And the Nominees are:
And the Winner Is: Not so fast.
This was a difficult category to choose. You have three great submissions. At first glance, the weaker of the three appears to be the Lesnar submission as Carwin was pretty gassed out. Then again, if you take that into account, you have to think about how often Chael Sonnen suffers from poor submission defense. Then you think about how reckless Fedor was in Werdum's guard as that was the ONLY way anyone had Werdum winning. I can come up for reasons why each sub deserves to win. I wanted to remove the Fedor sub as I had no sentimental ties to it (besides ultimately proving a point that when you consistent face good fighters, you lose), but it was the most significant submission out of the three. Some would say the Lesnar submission only delayed the inevitable and the Silva submission just affirmed what we already knew. And there's a chance they're correct. But since these are my awards, I'm going to go with the sentiments.
That has us down to Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar. Of course, many assume that Brock Lesnar is my favorite fighter, so this is an easy win. You're incorrect. Anderson Silva is, Brock isn't even top 5. And no this isn't because he lost. Anyway, these submissions to me come down to context. The Lesnar submission was the icing on a cake that had been baking all night. It was possibly the greatest card in UFC history. It took place after a one-sided drubbing in the first round that saw the champion beaten and battered, but somehow able to survive. Ultimately he was able to submit a tired Carwin in the 2nd round. It was a great submission...but it wasn't the BEST.
The triangle armbar of Chael Sonnen was a thing of beauty precisely because of context, precisely because of who the participants were and when it took place. It was built up for months. Chael Sonnen had been throwing barbs at Anderson Silva even before he officially became the number one contender to his title. The months leading up to the title fight, Sonnen went on a campaign of insults even focusing on Silva's homeland of Brazil and the Nogueira brothers who trained Anderson to be the fighter he is today. He even tried to underplay the legitimacy of Silva's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt likening it to a "Happy Meal toy". Silva was soft-spoken (to the dismay of the media) in response to Sonnen's taunts and preferred to let his talking take place in the cage.
Silva came out to the fight not in his normal garb of a T-shirt, but in a traditional BJJ gi, almost a harbinger of the upcoming finish. As they clashed, Sonnen's wrestling acumen was shown early and he even surprised Silva on the feet catching him off-balance as Silva kept his hands low. Round after round, Sonnen took Silva down and peppered him with little shots. Silva cut him with an elbow from the bottom in the 4th round, but it was a glimmer of hope for Silva fans. Going into the 5th round, it seemed as if Sonnen was bound to do the impossible. Even the greatest of Anderson Silva fans began to lose their muster. Sonnen fans began to smile wider and wider and the internet prepared to explode. But a funny thing happened then.
Sonnen was less than a couple of minutes away from winning the title he says he promised his father he would win when Silva threw up his legs and hooked in a triangle. He then transitioned that into an armbar and Sonnen tapped. Rosenthal ran in to break it up and Sonnen tried to claim he didn't tap. It was a moment of controversy. Subsequent replays showed that Sonnen had indeed tapped. Victory for Silva snatched from the jaws of defeat. I'll be honest, if this had happened against anyone else, it probably wouldn't have won the Submission of the Year, but Sonnen had disrespected Anderson to the point where it made the win just sweeter. It wasn't enough that Anderson beat him, he actually gave Sonnen a lot of hope before snatching it away. If Silva had subbed him in the 1st or even the 3rd round, it wouldn't have been as great.
It's akin to a skit I remember from my childhood. WWF heel Ted Dibiase said he would pay a young Black boy $500 if he could dribble a basketball 15 times. Seems easy. But you knew that since Ted was a heel, he wouldn't allow the kid to win. But the kid dribbled it 1 time, 2 time and made it up to 5 dribbles and you waited. Then it was 8, 9, 10 dribbles and you waited. But when it got to 12 dribbles, you gave pause. Maybe the Million Dollar Man would have to pay up. 13 dribbles. Hold on, this isn't supposed to happen like this. 14 dribbles. Is this kid gonna win $500? And then on the 15th dribble, Ted Dibiase kicks the ball away and the kid gets nothing. And that's what Anderson Silva did to Chael Sonnen and the Sonnenites. He kicked the ball away and that's why this was the Submission of the Year.