The 411 MMA Top 10 10.14.13: Top 10 Submission Artists
Posted by Alex Rella on 10.14.2013
From Matt Hughes, Josh Barnett and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira to Royce Gracie and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 submission artists of all time!
Top Ten Submission Artists
Hey there gentle readers, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten submission artists of all time. This was one of the harder lists I've had to do as this list is filled with legends and former champions. The top eight fighters were easy to think of, but filling those last two spots were tricky. While doing the rankings this week I tried to balance the number of submission wins a fighter had and the quality of opponents they were against. So while guys like Dan Severn and Travis Fulton had dozens of submission victories, they don't make the cut because none of them were against top competition. Cooler or tougher submissions and my personal opinion also rounded out the ranking criteria. The honorable mentions are a little longer this week as it was such a stacked topic and I didn't want to leave people out. Anyway, here's the list. Let me know what you think.
Honorable Mentions and Number of Submission Victories:
Rickson Gracie: 11- Rickson won all of his fights by submission, but he retired in 2000 before MMA really picked up.
Joe Lauzon: 18- I didn't realize Lauzon had so many submission victories. A six time Submission of the Night winner has defeated Mike Brown, Melvin Guilard, and Jamie Varner.
Chris Lytle: 19- Three time Submission of the Night winner, Chris "Lights Out" Lytle, submitted Dan Hardy, Matt Brown 2x, and Brian Foster. The ones over Brown and Foster were especially cool.
Pat Miletich: 18- UFC 16 Tournament winner and inaugural welterweight champion. Was one of the first true mixed martial artists and his shoulder choke victory over Chris Brennan was always one of my favorites.
Megumi Fujii: 19- One of the best female fighters of all time recently retired with a 26-3.
Shinya Aoki: 22- This may annoy some people, but I just don't think Aoki is that good. His twenty two submission victories are good, but he rarely competes against top competition as he chooses to stay in Asia.
Ronaldo Souza: 11- Former Strikeforce middleweight champion and one of the best submission artists in the world today. I went back and forth on where to place Jacare, but I decided to give the slight edge to the guy in the tenth spot.
10: Demian Maia
Demian Maia starts this week's list off coming in at number ten. He lost to Jake Shields this week and appeared to put any UFC title hopes to rest, but he is still one of the best today when it comes to submissions. The 2007 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion made his MMA debut in 2001, but didn't compete regularly until 2005. Maia was in the UFC by 2007 and he won his first five fights in Octagon by submission. Ryan Jensen, Ed Herman, Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry, and Chael Sonnen all lost to Maia. That's a fairly impressive list of names and four of which won him Submission of the Night. His victory over Sonnen at UFC 95 would be his last for three years until UFC 153 when he made Rick Story tap to a brutal and bloody neck crank. Who knows if he'll ever get a crack at GSP, but he'll likely add on a few more submissions before he's done fighting.
9: Jeremy Horn
Newer fans may not know Jeremy Horn too well, but the guy was good when it came to grappling and submissions in particular. One of the original Miletich Fighting Systems' guys, Horn fought one hundred and fifteen times in his career in almost every top organization. Horn competed in the UFC, Pride, Pancrase, WEC, and Bellator. He had a very impressive 89-21-5 record with sixty one of his victories coming via submission and he was never a collegiate wrestler or had an official jiu-jitsu belt/ranking. The two time UFC light heavyweight number one contender submitted Josh Burkman, David Loiseau, and Chael Sonnen twice, but the biggest win of his career was when he became the only person to submit Chuck Liddell at UFC 19 when the Iceman was choked unconscious at the end of the first round. One of the forgotten pioneers from MMA's early days deserves his spot on this week's list.
8: Frank Mir
Frank Mir is now only one loss away from being cut from the UFC and/or retiring, but he is best submission artist in the history of the UFC's heavyweight division. While I'm not a big fan of Mir, he has had some impressive submission victories over the years. At UFC 41, he became the only person to win by toe hold when he defeated Tank Abbott. He broke Tim Sylvia's arm at UFC 48 to win the heavyweight title and at UFC 140 he became the first person to submit Big Nog when he broke his arm in a kimura. Throw in other submission victories over Cheick Kongo, Pete Williams, and Brock Lesnar and you have quite the career no matter how bad his facial hair is.
7: Royce Gracie
As usual when it comes to ranking Royce Gracie, some will say he's ranked too high and others will say too low. But I think this is a good spot for him all things considered. Gracie was pioneer in the early days of the UFC and one of the most dominant fighters ever. The first member of the UFC Hall of Fame won UFC tournaments 1, 2, and 4. During this stretch he submitted eleven fighters in a row including Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn. The eleven submission victories are still the UFC record. But he took five years off and the sport passed him by. He couldn't win without his gi or once other fights started to train in jiu-jitsu. His only submission victory post 1995 was against a sumo wrestler that never won in MMA.
6: Urijah Faber
A lot of people hate Urijah Faber and I guess I can see why, but he's always been one of my favorites to watch. Love him or hate him, Faber has some truly great submission victories on his resume. The former WEC featherweight champion is one of the best in the lower weight classes when it comes to grappling. So far, Faber has won by submission an impressive sixteen times. He's defeated top contenders like Scott Jorgensen, Jeff Curran, Raphael Assunção, Takeya Mizugaki, and Ivan Menjivar. The Menjivar submission was especially cool since Faber was in the air on his back. He's also submitted championship caliber fighters like Jens Pulver, Brian Bowles, and Dominick Cruz. It appears he's now one more win away from another title shot and his fight with Michael McDonald should be great as he goes for his fourth win of the year.
5: Fedor Emelianenko
I kind of forgot how good Fedor Emeilianenko was when it came to submissions. One of the top three fighters of all time, the Last Emperor dominated Pride's heavyweight division for years his using his striking and sambo background. A former Russian and world sambo champion, sixteen of his thirty five victories came by submission. Fedor submitted top fighters like Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman 2x, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kevin Randleman, and Mark Hunt.
4: Kazushi Sakuraba
The Gracie Hunter makes an appearance this week as he was one of the best when it came to submissions. Originally a professional wrestler, Kazushi Sakuraba received his catch wrestling training under Billy Robinson while working for pro wrestling company UWFi. Sakuraba's first submission was against Marcus Silveira to win the UFC Japan tournament, Silveira was a BJJ black belt that outweighed Sakuraba by sixty pounds. Sakuraba submitted seventeen other men in his legendary career including Carlos Newton, Royler Gracie, Renzo Gracie, Quinton Jackson, Kevin Randleman, Ikuhisa Minowa, and more. Sakuraba was only submitted twice in his career as well and both came when he was much older. Another impressive stat that showed how good he was. Sakuraba ended his career on a four fight losing streak and hasn't fought since 2011, but fans can still watch him wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
3: Josh Barnett
The Warmaster comes in at number three this week. Josh Barnett is now making another UFC title run at thirty five years old and a main reason for it is that very few heavyweights can hang with him on the ground. Barnett spent years learning catch wrestling under Billy Robinson and Erick Paulson and it paid off as Barnett has submitted twenty of his opponents. Former Pancrase champion, 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix runner-up, and Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix runner up has submitted some tough heavyweights like Sergei Kharitonov, Mark Hunt, Alexander Emelianenko, Yuki Kondo, Olympic gold medalist in Judo Hidehiko Yoshida, and UFC champion Dan Severn. He has a big fight coming up with Travis Brown at UFC 168, which could determine the next number one contender for the UFC heavyweight title.
2: Matt Hughes
I may be a little biased as Matt Hughes is my all time favorite fighter, but there's no denying his skill when it comes to grappling and submissions specifically. The two time UFC welterweight champion had twenty victories by submission during his thirteen year career. Hughes was a two time All American wrestler in college and although he never had an official belt or ranking in jiu-jitsu, one could see how amazing Hughes was when it came to BJJ after he spent years training with Jeremy Horn and other guys at Miletich Fighting Systems for most of his career. Most of his submission wins came before joining the UFC. The most notable of these early fights was against Joe Doerksen who has quite a few submissions on his record as well. In the UFC, Hughes submitted Joe Riggs, Frank Trigg 2x, was the only person to ever submit GSP, and his last one against Ricardo Almeida was especially awesome since he choked him out with a front headlock.
1: Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira gets the top spot this week as he is the greatest submission artist of all time. The second greatest heavyweight of all time is one of the few men to hold gold in Pride and the UFC. Twenty one of his thirty four victories have come by submission and he really has made some of the best heavyweights of all time tap out. Tim Sylvia, Heath Herring, Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Bob Sapp, Mark Coleman, Gary Goodridge, and so many more have all fallen to the BJJ expert. His career is winding down now, but Big Nog is still a .500 fighter and his submission victory over Dave Herman last October at UFC 153 was his first one since 2008. I personally think his wins over Cro Cop, Sapp, and Sylvia were his most impressive as he was able to come from behind from some good beatings and lock in a submission. I'll do a Big Nog top ten list eventually and while this list was one of the harder ones I've had to do, I'm completely confident putting Nogueira number one.
So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
Next week will be Jake Shields' top ten.