Check it, guys. Not sure when "Fights of the Year" will go up, but I'd imagine it'd be within the next week or so.
Tapouts have always fascinated me. They come in so many different forms. There are the outright goofy (Tim Elliott tapping to Joe Benavidez with both feet; Alexander Emelianenko tapping Josh Barnett’s ass; Joe Riggs doing Joe Riggs things), the understatedly dramatic (Fedor Emelianenko’s one tap special to Fabricio Werdum), the slow burners (Where guys initially defend the submission effectively but eventually succumb), and anything Rousimar Palhares has ever done (0 KO’s, 14 subs, 9 heel hooks, at least 5 guys screaming in agony, at least 8 total weeks of MMA media scrutiny).
But which one’s were the best this calendar year? Let’s sift through and see what my muddled brain comes up with. Here … we … GO!
I’m getting this one out of the way early, only to point out that it was absolutely ridiculous. Anundson took McGeary down, and proceeded to get his ass kicked on top (in side control!). McGeary flopped his legs around for the better part of an entire round, hoping to secure a preposterous low percentage submission that he eventually secured because Anundson gave up right away. Then one of the Bellator announcers proclaimed "Wow, that’s the 3rd inverted triangle we’ve had in Bellator!", inadvertently insulting Bellator’s talent pool. Absurd.
Adam Fritz vs. Jeff Mack @ Hardcore MMA 60
Finally, an omoplata inside the octagon. Cross that one off of your UFC Bucket List. To be fair, this matchup was the perfect storm for a potential omoplata finish. You had a veteran fighter with super long legs and an active guard taking on a subpar opponent that had the full deer-in-the-headlights look going right from the opening bell. This wasn’t a shocking, high level tapout like … well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Still, pretty cool stuff.
Halsey put Shlemenko to sleep in under a minute, hurt his feelings, and took his belt, leaving him nothing but his gold chain and trademark Russian stoicism. Most people had Halsey favored here, but to see a longtime champion (and a good one, at that) in a high level promotion get taken to the woodshed in just 35 seconds was absolutely bananas. Can we get Shlemenko in the UFC? I want to see him take the heads of C+ level fighters and rack up performance bonuses.
Lots of Bellator subs on this list. That wasn’t my predetermined intention, trust me. I guess when I think of 2014′s UFC submissions, mercy killings like Cormier-Hendo come to mind. What a somber bummer of a fight that was. Dan pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with that Shogun KO. He’s been done as a high level mixed martial artist for about 5 fights now.
Anyway, this one gets drama points out the wazoo, having occured 24 minutes and 46 seconds into the fight. It was a close contest up to that point, but I still had Curran down 3-1. He needed a finish to win, and if there’s one flaw Pat Curran has, it’s fighting from behind. He fights with the exact same level of intensity and urgency every second of every round, whether he’s losing soundly or picking someone apart. So when he got the back and went for the RNC with about a minute to go, my thought was "Oh wow, good start, Pat, but come on, you ain’t finishing Daniel here. You’re losing a 48-47 decision." And for most of the sub attempt, it looked like I’d be right. Then, he started grimacing and squeezing, and the "Holy shit, he might get this thing!" thought occured just as Straus was tapping. Unbelievable. Pat Curran actually won a race against time.
The Moonwalk RNC! Dantas basically defended a single leg attempt by doing a trust fall right onto Leone’s back. In order to come close to a sub of the year candidate, it’s good to leave people saying ""I’ve never seen anything quite like that before!" (Check), and the stakes need to be relatively high (Even though Leone was kind of a lame challenger, I think the Bellator’s bantamweight belt being on the line qualifies). This one isn’t quite the sub of the year to me, but Eduardo Dantas gets serious style points for subbing Leone in about zero seconds flat. Very cool.
Ding ding ding! I love high level, aggressive grappling, and the second round of the Oliveira-Hioki fight was legitimately thrilling. Takedowns, reversals, guys diving onto submissions, guys going for broke … just a ton of fun. It looked like it was going to be a three round grapplefest, with the winner being tough to decide because I don’t peg Sal D’Amato and those like him as dudes who would be particularly astute at judging that kind of fight correctly (or any fight correctly, for that matter).
So when Oliveira dove onto Hioki’s neck and actually had the sub so tight that he was able to CLUTCH HIS BICEP … I mean, you don’t just … trap Hatsu Hioki like that.Hioki’s losses normally come because he undermines himself with poor strategy. Not this time. Great fight, and a giant feather in Charles’s cap. It’s my call for the 2014 MMA Submission Of The Year.