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7/5/16: Five Best Submissions of 2016 (Thus Far)
5. Michael Chiesa’s standing rear naked choke over Beneil Dariush (UFC on Fox 19): The first quarter of 2016 featured so many crazy, noteworthy, or incredible looking finishes that only Chiesa’s April upset over Dariush broke into my list from the second quarter of the year. Chiesa got to Dariush’s back in a scramble, held onto the position when Dariush worked to his feet, and finished the submission by crushing Dariush’s jaw. It was brutal, beautiful to watch, and one of the best finishes of the year.
4. Michael McDonald’s sub-escape-to-sub-win over Masanori Kanehara (UFC 195): This was quite simply one of the craziest sequences of the year. McDonald, back in action after two years out of the cage, was very close to going out from a tight arm triangle choke from Kanehara; instead, he got a little bit of space to keep the blood moving, then quickly escaped, scrambled out, took Kanehara’s back, locked on the choke, and got the tap. It was a great win and got him back into the conversation at bantamweight for the first time in a long time.
3. Ben Rothwell’s gogo choke over Josh Barnett (UFC on Fox 18): In a shocking and historic finish in January, Ben Rothwell became the first to make heavyweight grappling artist Josh Barnett legitimately tap out to a choke. The front “gogo choke,” as Rothwell dubbed it, caught Barnett seemingly out of nowhere, and Rothwell wouldn’t let him escape. It was a great win for Rothwell, though he’d go on to squander his momentum in April.
2. Miesha Tate’s rear naked choke over Holly Holm (UFC 196): The significance of the final two on this list trump the fact that, technically, they’re just two of numerous instances of rear naked choke wins in 2016. Still, they can’t be topped because of the shake ups they’ve brought to the UFC. Tate choking Holly Holm out cold gave her a win in a fight she was minutes away from losing by decision, and completely changed plans for UFC 200. It was an excellent scramble on her part to get Holm’s back in that fifth round, but completing the choke and putting Holm to sleep made it an even bigger moment for her.
1. Nate Diaz’s rear naked choke over Conor McGregor (UFC 196): Speaking of shake-ups. The plan for Conor McGregor into 2016 was clear after UFC 194 – beat Rafael dos Anjos, become two-division champion, then switch between defending two belts. At least, that was the plan in the Irishman’s mind. Then Rafael dos Anjos got hurt, he picked Nate Diaz on short notice and decided to say “screw it, let’s run it at 170 lbs.” The Featherweight Champ got too confident in his hands, his power wasn’t as effective as he thought it was going to be, and he got tagged in the second round. That was enough to get him to bring the fight to the ground, where Diaz quickly showed him why that was a bad idea. Diaz beating McGregor up on the ground and forcing him to tap with a rear naked choke blew things up, but now has both poised for another massive payday in August.
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
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