Watch: The most debilitating submissions of 2016

Richard Burmaster / Legacy Fighting Championship

As the year in cage fighting comes to a close, theScore's MMA staff takes a look back at what will be remembered as a time of change, controversy, and lots of people getting punched in the face.

Best of MMA 2016

The art of the submission is alive and well, and 2016 left plenty of bodies twisted into knots and gasping for air:

10. Demian Maia def. Carlos Condit (UFC on FOX 21, Aug. 27)

Nobody should make jiu-jitsu look this easy.

Carlos Condit is an accomplished grappler himself, but when he ran into the Brazilian buzzsaw that is Demian Maia, he may as well have been trying to backstroke through quicksand. It took Maia less than two minutes to take Condit to the mat and set up a rear-naked choke that had the welterweight contender tapping his submission. - Lee

9. Ben Rothwell def. Josh Barnett (UFC on FOX 18, Jan. 30)

Ben Rothwell had to break out a rarely seen submission to put Josh Barnett away.

After a scramble left Barnett's neck ripe for the taking, Rothwell seized control of it with - of all things - a gogo choke. The catch wrestling specialist's efforts to free himself of the submission soon took a backseat to his desire to remain conscious, prompting him to tap to a chokehold for the first time in over 40 career fights. - Alexis

8. Thiago Moises def. David Castillo (RFA 35, Feb. 19)

David Castillo experienced some major turbulence in his submission loss to Thiago Moises.

In a battle for the Resurrection Fighting Alliance lightweight belt, Moises picked up an amazing ambar victory by kicking Castillo up into the air, giving him a slight spin, and then trapping his limb on the way down before securing the bone-breaking hold. - Lee

7. Joe Soto def. Marco Beltran (UFC Fight Night 98, Nov. 5)

The fighter known as "One Bad Mofo" needed just 1:37 to prove he was exactly that.

Fighting on just five days' notice, the ever game Joe Soto promptly snatched Marco Beltran's right leg and didn't relinquish control until he'd contorted it with a heel hook, the Octagon equivalent of a unicorn sighting. - Alexis

6. Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm (UFC 196, March 5)

With one choke, Miesha Tate completed a nine-year journey to the top.

Going into the fifth round of her challenge for Holly Holm's women's bantamweight championship at UFC 196, it appeared that Tate was headed to a decision loss or a draw, either of which would have kept the belt around Holm's waist.

With less than two minutes to go, Tate wrestled Holm to the ground and used every last ounce of her strength to take Tate's back and wrap her up in a rear-naked choke. Holm didn't tap, but she went to sleep, making Tate a UFC champion for the first time in her career. - Lee

5. Tony Ferguson def. Lando Vannata (UFC Fight Night 91, July 13)

Unheralded short-notice fill-in Lando Vannata wasn't going to snap Tony Ferguson's seven-fight win streak, right?


After Vannata nearly sent him back to square one with a first-round flurry, "El Cucuy" gave the youngster his UFC comeuppance in the second. Ferguson beat the gas out of a bloody Vannata before trapping him in a viselike D'Arce choke to extend his streak to eight. - Alexis

4. Gilbert Burns def. Lukasz Sajewski (UFC Fight Night 90, July 7)

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again until you break your opponent's arm.

Once Gilbert Burns got Lukasz Sajewski to the ground, the only question was how Burns would finish the fight. After landing elbows to the head and teasing a choke attempt, "Durinho" made a gorgeous transition into an armbar that had Sajewski tapping and crying out in fear that Burns might take his limb and never give it back. - Lee

3. Nate Diaz def. Conor McGregor (UFC 196, March 5)

Who better than Nate Diaz to debunk Conor McGregor's air of invincibility?

The Stockton scrapper made "The Notorious" pay for prematurely ending Diaz's trip to Cabo San Lucas, stepping into the first of their pair of welterweight meetings on short notice. In a quintessential Diaz performance, the career lightweight rode his funky brand of boxing to sap the Irishman's gas tank before snatching his back to secure the year's most resounding upset with a rear-naked choke in the second round. - Alexis

2. Chas Skelly def. Maximo Blanco (UFC Fight Night 94, Sept. 17)

Admittedly, it's the whole sequence of moves by Chas Skelly that make this submission special, but what a sequence it is.

In the span of 19 seconds, Skelly closes the distance between himself and Maximo Blanco, delivers a flying kick that surely involved wire work, pounces on Blanco, and then wraps up the fight with an airtight anaconda choke that puts Blanco to sleep.

Of Skelly's eight career wins by choke, this one has to rank right at the top. - Lee

1. Mackenzie Dern def. Montana Stewart (Legacy FC 61, Oct. 14)

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is all about taking what the opponent gives, and take Mackenzie Dern did when she faced Montana Stewart.

Over a minute-long sequence, the already decorated prodigy patiently transitioned from guard to an omoplata, then gradually angled for control of Stewart's neck to complete the intricate submission known as an Imanari choke, a scarcely seen creation of legendary grappler Masakazu Imanari that had Stewart tapping in no time.

The shoulder-lock-choke combo - as well as the expert transitions that led to its completion - would make Imanari himself hang up his gi in admiration. - Alexis

Watch: The most debilitating submissions of 2016
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