Technically, we're about a month over the half-year mark, but with live MMA on TV every other minute, it's hard to fit something like this in when you have to cover the non-stop facepunching. Tim Burke used to run the Bloody Elbow half-year and year-end MMA awards, but he stepped down from the site to focus on his career as an Olympic winter biathlete.
The Bloody Elbow staff compiled a massive list of some of the top MMA moments thus far in 2014, which you'll be able to vote on through our polls, which are open for 6 days starting from publish of each article. Today, we're focusing on the best submission, but in the coming days we'll also have best fighter, best event, best fight, biggest upset, and best comeback.
As to keep up with the format that Tim had used, I've selected 8 entries per category, but since this year's "half-year" awards is in August, I've moved the cutoff date to July 26th, which stands as the most recent UFC event (UFC on Fox 12). All of our choices are based on major MMA promotions only (UFC, Bellator, WSOF, etc.) , so that doesn't include kickboxing, boxing, Metamoris, or anything else of the sort. This was fairly difficult to sift through, so don't be angry if there's any of your favorites that have been left out.
Enough talking. Let's look at the list, which is in no particular order:
Charles Oliveira chokes out Hatsu Hioki, UFC Fight Night Auckland. Prior to June 28th, no man had ever submitted Japan's Hioki, who was once good enough to be considered a potential threat to Jose Aldo's title. Charles Oliveira's UFC career could best be described as "inconsistent", but he notched his best win to date with this modified guillotine choke. (GIF)
Ovince St. Preux pulls off the Von Flue choke on Nikita Krylov, UFC 171. This may be a bit of an iffy choice to some, because at the highest levels of the sport you probably shouldn't be losing via Von Flue choke, but this is a thing that happened in March. Nikita Krylov was content to hang onto OSP's neck for a guillotine choke, even as his guard had been passed. OSP gained side control, locked in his own choke, and Krylov went to sleep. (GIF)
Eduardo Dantas RNCs Anthony Leone, Bellator 111. An unbelievably fast taking of the back by Dantas, which leads to a rear-naked choke and a successful bantamweight title defense for the Brazilian. You really have to see the GIF (which I've linked) because my words don't do it justice. (GIF)
Joseph Benavidez guillotines a squirming Tim Elliott, UFC 172. Team Alpha Male fighters are known for their lethal choke submissions, and Joseph Benavidez latched on a guillotine vs. Tim Elliott that was so tight, that with both of Elliott's arms trapped he was forced to tap out with his feet, which I don't think I've ever seen in an MMA fight. (GIF)
Niklas Backstrom bulldog chokes Tom Niinimaki, UFC Fight Night Berlin. Who needs hooks? Backstrom drilled Tom Niinimaki with a big knee, then hooked his right arm around his neck (before using his left to secure the hold) and began squeezing the life out of Niinimaki until he tapped out. (GIF)
Luke Rockhold gets inverted triangle and kimura on Tim Boetsch, UFC 172. Poor Tim Boetsch. Phil Davis practically re-enacted an episode of Cops on him, and when he fought Luke Rockhold, the former Strikeforce MW champion had an inverted triangle locked in, but for good measure he forced Boetsch to tap once he cranked on a kimura. Sensational stuff from Rockhold. (GIF)
Nate Marquardt armbars James Te Huna, UFC Fight Night Auckland. The main event of the UFC's New Zealand debut was expected to take place primarily at striking distance, with a likely KO ending. Nate Marquardt, desperate for a win to keep his job, attacked Te Huna's left arm in a scramble and didn't let go until Te Huna was forced to submit. It's Marquardt's first submission win since 2006. (GIF)
Mitch Clarke gets d'arce choke vs. Al Iaquinta, UFC 173. Iaquinta had dominated Clarke in the 1st round, but Clarke pulled off a stunning comeback by locking in a tremendously tight d'arce choke on the TUF 15 runner-up. Iaquinta tried to escape, but he wound up unconscious. (GIF)
Tomorrow's category: Best fight
You can still vote for: Best knockout (until Sunday, August 10th)