UFC 2016 Awards: Cage Pages Submission of the Year

We went through our favorite knockouts yesterday, so now let’s give grapplers some love with our picks for UFC Submission of the Year.

There were 89 submissions in the UFC in 2016, with most being rear-naked chokes. Whether winner rose to the occasion in a clutch moment, or showcased phenomenal technique, there were a few standout choices from the year.

The choice for the majority of outlets last year was Ronda Rousey’s incredible inverted armbar against Cat Zingano that took just 14 seconds. This year, the race is much tighter.

Below are the favorite submissions from 2016 of 19 of our writers here at Cage Pages, followed by their explanations. A few writers went with submissions from outside the Octagon. Click the links to check out a clip of the submission.

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Griffin Youngs: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Holly Holm had the world on her shoulders, coming off of her knockout of Ronda Rousey. People never gave Meisha a chance, and after four rounds, Holm looks on her way to secure her first title defense and send Tate back to the drawing board. Mid-way through the final round, Tate took the back and threw up a Hail Mary RNC and pulled it off, winning her the title and ending the hype of Holly Holm. If there was a category for Comeback of the Year, this would be the winner of that as well.

Eddie Law: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Who could possibly stop “The Notorious” Conor McGregor? Stockton’s own Nate Diaz did. Even with the short notice, McGregor did a great job of talking using his metaphors involving wild animals, trying to embarrass and humiliate Diaz, and having all of the hype in the world…..only to fall to a Diaz who was coming off a vacation, having no camp, but one of the realest fighters to ever fight in the Octagon. Diaz’s “Kill or be killed” mentality is one of a real fighter. All the McGregor fans came out with every excuse possible including talking about Nate like he’s a heavyweight. Get outta here with that stuff. Conor ran into a real badass and that’s it. He could do fookin nuttin!

Adrian Rufo: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

It wasn’t the sexiest submission, but it was a shocking result. As a huge Conor fan, I had thought he was invincible and this incredible moment was devastating and shocking.

Heath Harshman: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Down in the fight, Tate needed her fifth-round rear-naked choke to secure the women’s bantamweight title. Although the year didn’t end up going completely Tate’s way, her submission of Holm was unforgettable.

Gabriel Gonzalez: Mackenzie Dern vs. Montana Stewart at Legacy FC 61 (Imanari Choke)

Similar to Rousey’s inverted armbar in 2015, Dern’s rear-naked choke/omoplata was the perfect combination of creativity and difficulty that has fans excited to see Dern compete in 2017.

Paarth Pande: Mackenzie Dern vs. Montana Stewart at Legacy FC 61 (Imanari Choke)

No words can define that submission, it was a hybrid supercool lock.

Jack Kopanski: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Not only was 2016 the year of titles changing hands, it seemed to be the year of the rear-naked choke. This women’s bantamweight title fight at UFC 196 satisfied both of those occurrences, as Miesha Tate took then-champion Holly Holm into the fifth-round, and locked in an RNC that put Holm to sleep, securing her the title.

Lucas Grandsire: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

McGregor was a clear favorite in this fight, but with a shock takedown attempt from McGregor, Diaz reminded fans that his BJJ is world class with a slick RNC.

Sean Bio: Ben Rothwell vs. Josh Barnett at UFC on FOX 18 (Gogo Choke)

For the second consecutive time, Rothwell used the gogo choke for the win. This time, he submitted one of the best grapplers in the heavyweight division, Josh Barnett, in the second round at UFC on FOX 18 in Newark. It was the first time Barnett was submitted by an actual submission.

Ryan Wagner: Michael Page vs. Jeremie Holloway at Bellator 153 (Toe Hold)

MVP’s toe hold estima lock thingy against Jeremie Holloway because I’ve never seen that before in MMA.

Tony Fagnano: Mackenzie Dern vs. Montana Stewart at Legacy FC 61 (Imanari Choke)

When you invent a submission in the cage it’s a good chance you’re going to win this award. Twisting Stewart’s body into a pretzel, she pulled off something similar to an Imanari choke but it had never been done from the opponent’s back before.

Harry Davies: Mackenzie Dern vs. Montana Stewart at Legacy FC 61 (Imanari Choke)

Forget Miesha Tate and Nate Diaz’s career changing rear naked chokes, because female BJJ phenom Mackenzie Dern made those look simplistic at best when she pulled off an omoplata into a rear-naked choke finish against Montana Stewart in October. How fans are forgetting this submission I will never know.

Jason Payne: Ben Rothwell vs. Josh Barnett at UFC on FOX 18 (Gogo Choke)

Just because it was on Barnett who is known as a catch-wrestling wizard.

Farzin Vousoughian: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Conor was dominating the entire match a minute before tapping. Diaz defended a weak takedown attempt and tried multiple submissions. He stayed on the ground to make him tap and pull off a big upset.

Jesse Gillette: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

This was the choke heard ’round the world. “I’m not surprised motherf***ers.”

Anthony Mazziotti: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Tate’s RNC to dethrone Holly Holm was huge. She needed a finish to win the belt and she pulled it out.

Jake Krier: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Miesha Tate’s come-from-behind victory in the final round of her title fight with Holly Holm was amazing. Her gutsy execution in that fifth round gave hope to any fighter down in a fight, showing that if you give it your all for the entirety of the bout, good things can happen. Her rear-naked choke may not have been the most technical sub of the year, but for her to hang on to it despite a valiant, flipping effort from Holm, it deserves our recognition. To put the next big thing (at the time) in women’s MMA unconscious, that was incredible.

Jay Anderson: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm at UFC 196 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Holly Holm went and shocked the world by beating Ronda Rousey. Most of us expected she’d hold on to that belt for a while, and for most of her first title defense against Miesha Tate at UFC 196, it appeared we were right. Then Tate locked in a late rear-naked choke, and took Holm out. Tate became the second fighter to hold both the Strikeforce and UFC women’s bantamweight titles – though it wouldn’t last long. Still, as a trailblazer, it was a huge moment.

Danny Doherty: Mackenzie Dern vs. Montana Stewart at Legacy FC 61 (Imanari Choke)

Just when you think you’ve seen everything MMA has to offer, Mackenzie Dern pulls off an omoplata then turns it into a rear-naked choke while keeping the omoplata in place. The sheer flexibility and skill-level required to pull that off is just unfathomable.

This was the closest race yet, with one vote separating three submissions. With a total of six votes out of 19, Miesha Tate’s come-from-behind submission over Holly Holm is the Cage Pages Submission of the Year. Nate Diaz and Mackenzie Dern followed with five votes apiece.

Other submissions worth mentioning are:

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