Submissions in MMA are getting scarcer as more and more people learn grappling early on. However, due to this fact, even though the number of submission finishes might be going down, the percentage of weir and unusual submission holds is going up. The best 5 MMA submissions of 2022 are the perfect example of that.
If you take a look at the 10 best MMA submissions of 2012 you’ll notice that they were all rear naked chokes, heel hooks (involving Palhares) armbars, guillotines, Darces, and the like. The only exception is Charles Oliveira’s (yeah, he was fighting in the UFC 10 years ago too) calf slicer finish of Eric Wisely.
IN contrast to 2022, apart from the ever-present rear-naked choke, the best 2022 submissions feature an inverted triangle-buggy choke hybrid, a body triangle compression finish, standing chokes, and something called the Kadowaki Special which most MMA and grappling fans from the last decade will find to be completely unfamiliar.
5 MMA Submissions That Marked 2022
the fact that people are more aware of grappling threats, especially in the context of MMA fights, means that weird, one-off type submission attacks, reminiscent of catch wrestling holds are much more likely to work as opposed to the traditional submission options most BJJ, Judo and even Sambo practitioners might e looking for.
Just like the period in the early 2010s when flying kicks and spinning back fists were just about the only things that could knock people out standing, the time has arrived now for weird MMA submissions to be the only means of tapping out an opponent inside the cage. And they are a joy to watch!
Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Texeira (Rear-Naked Choke, UFC 275)
WHi;e the submission itself is one of the two most used MMA submissions ever (along with the armbar) Jiri Prochazka’s world championship-winning application of the rear-naked choke against the legendary Glover Texeira was nothing short of astounding.
In the main event of UFC 275, Prochazka became the UFC light heavyweight champion of the world in just his third fight with the promotion, when he managed to force Texeira to tap to his rear-naked choke with mere seconds left on the clock. An impressive performance, to say the least.
OOOOOHHHHH!!!!!! @jiri_bjp somete a Glover Teixeira en el quinto round 🤯 #UFC275 pic.twitter.com/shdq4yVcX0
— UFC Español (@UFCEspanol) June 12, 2022
Jessica Andrade vs. Amanda Lemos (Standing Arm-Triangle, UFN 205)
After Jone Jones set the standard for putting people to sleep with standing chokes, with finished THAT standing guillotine against Lyoto Machida, we’ve seen a fair share of standing choke finishes in MMA.
Jessica Andarade’s iteration of an arm-triangle, while standing against the cage versus the young and extremely dangerous Amanda Lemos was as perfect as MMA submissions can get. The strawweight contender kept calm in the fight with a very aggressive Lemos, and timed her arm-triangle perfectly to get the first choke of this kind in UFC history.
Zhang Weili vs. Carla Esparza (Crucifix Kadowaki Special, UFC 281)
You’ve got to hand it to Carla Esparza she’s been toughing it out with the who is who of women’s MMA in the strawweight division since its inception. In her championship defense against Zhan Wili, though, she encountered what is possibly the most unorthodox submission she was caught in her whole career.
Older MMA fans probably remember Hideki Kadowaki, the Japanese fighter who was finishing people left and right in PRIDE and Shooto from the crucifix. In a 2022 edition of a move dubbed the Kadowaki Special, Weili captured the strawweight UFC belt in the most impressive fashion possible against one of the most renowned opponents in the entire promotion.
The finish is a one-arm rear-naked choke from a crucifix position, making it difficult for the person on the receiving end to tap out, let alone defend or escape.
GIVE HER THE BELT BACK 🏆@MMAWeili recaptures gold at #UFC281!! pic.twitter.com/su4ioC7DIP
— UFC (@ufc) November 13, 2022
Oliver Enkamp vs. Mark Lemminger (Inverted Triangle Choke, Bellator 281)
What was initially dubbed a Buggy Choke finish by commentators at Bellator 281 was in fact an inverted triangle choke from bottom side control, pulled off to perfection by Oliver Enkamp in his bout against Mark Lemminger.
The Swedish welterweight did not have an easy time dealing with Lemminger on the feet, but made the most out of their exchanges on the bottom, catching one of the craziest MMA submissions in 2022 from a very inferior position after suffering a takedown stemming from a failed spinning back kick.
@OliverEnkamp sinks in the buggy choke 💪 to add an 1️⃣1️⃣th win to his pro record at #Bellator281.
The #BellatorLondon @MonsterEnergy Prelims, fueled by @NorthgateGlzMrk, are LIVE NOW on our YouTube channel.👇
👀 https://t.co/XPLtI479Gm pic.twitter.com/zNrjgfWkcn
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 13, 2022
Stevie Ray vs. Anthony Pettis (Body Triangle Compression, PFL 5)
Wrapping up the top 5 list of the best and craziest MMA submissions of 2022 is a submission that is difficult to pull off in the training room, let alone in a professional MMA fight against none other than former UFC champion Anthony Pettis.
Ray did exactly that, catching Pettis in a body triangle from the back, but at a different angle to the usual rear-naked-choke hunting body triangle. In fact, instead of going for a choke he deliberately squeezed the body of Pettis with his legs until he forced the 35-year-old to tap in agony.
STEVIE RAY GETS THE TAP!!!!
RAY IS GOING TO THE #PFLPLAYOFFS!!#2022PFL5 LIVE on ESPN & ESPN+
🌎 https://t.co/jPNvomkWj8 pic.twitter.com/AIwfNlWFtS
— PFL (@PFLMMA) June 25, 2022