As mixed martial arts continues to evolve, submission victories have become increasingly uncommon.
Out of 474 total UFC fights in 2015, only 89 ended in via submission — that’s a rate of just 18.7 per cent. Even though there were far fewer submissions compared to knockouts and decisions, it doesn’t mean there weren’t some memorable ones.
With that in mind here are 15 of the best UFC submissions from 2015.
Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano
Rousey set a pair of records in her UFC 184 main event bout as Zingano wrote the blueprint for how not to fight Rousey. The 14-second armbar win is the fastest submission finish in modern UFC history and at the time was the quickest finish in a UFC title fight (Conor McGregor would break this record later in the year).
Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
After 24-plus minutes of domination, Johnson tapped Horiguchi with a brilliant armbar with one second remaining in the final round of their flyweight tile scrap. This was the latest stoppage in UFC history and a record that by definition will never be broken. With seven seconds remaining, he went from a mounted crucifix position to side control to full mount to a far-side armbar to force the tap. It was remarkable.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez
It had been nearly two years since Velasquez had fought and he didn’t look like the same fighter. He uncharacteristically gassed out and was outstruck by Werdum. Early in the third round, Velasquez shot for an undisciplined, sloppy takedown attempt and Werdum locked up an arm-in guillotine.
Godofredo Pepey vs. Andre Fili
As Fili pressed Pepey against the cage, Pepey jumped to lock in a flying triangle. Fili defended valiantly for nearly two full minutes before finally tapping.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Josh Koscheck
Most chokes don’t look as violent as this one did, but when Ellenberger locked onto Koscheck’s neck like a pitbull it was frightening. You don’t see too many north-south choke attempts but this one worked.
Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch
These veteran middleweights put on a show in a Fight of the Night performance at UFC 183 and when the action hit the canvas in the second round, Leites locked in a fight-finishing arm-traingle that left Boetsch unconscious.
Benson Henderson vs. Brandon Thatch
This was a standard rear-naked choke but the circumstances around it were impressive. The former lightweight champion took this fight against Thatch, one of the best strikers and physically intimidating fighters in the welterweight division, on short notice and made a huge statement. He also did it with a toothpick in his mouth.
Keita Nakamura vs. Li Jingliang
Nakamura went 0-3 in the UFC from 2006-2008 before going on a hot streak in his native Japan and returning to the UFC in September. He turned a failed takedown attempt against Li Jingliang into one of the best submissions of the year.
Patrick Williams def. Alejandro Pérez
Williams made quick work of Pérez in June, landing several punches and securing a standing guillotine choke that put his opponent to sleep.
Joseph Duffy def. Ivan Jorge
This won Duffy a Performance of the Night bonus. Jorge attempted to toss Duffy to the ground but the Irishman niftily set up a triangle in the process. He’s known primarily for his striking, but this move showed off his well-rounded skill set.
Rony Jason vs. Damon Jackson
The Brazilian star showed off his ground game against Jackson. Unfortunately, he failed his drug test, so the UFC took back his $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
Ben Rothwell vs. Matt Mitrione
There were only two submissions in the heavyweight division in 2015 and one of them was a ninja choke. Mitrione was doing fine on the feet and this ill-advised takedown attempt cost him the fight.
Beneil Dariush vs. Daron Cruickshank
Dariush is one of the top rising contenders in the lightweight division and the way he took Cruickshank’s back at UFC 185 was something to behold.
Gilbert Burns vs. Alex Oliveira
Brazilian versus Brazilian in Rio de Janeiro and it was Burns who came out on top. The finishing maneuver began with burns attempting a mounted triangle before switching to the armbar. Pulling off a move like the one Burns did late in the final round is far more difficult than doing it early in a fight as well.
Tony Ferguson def. Gleison Tibau
Few fighters had a more impressive year than Ferguson. He fought three times and ended up with four post-fight bonuses. Yep. You read that correctly. He became just the second man to submit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Tibau when they met at UFC 184.
Honourable mention: Thiago Tavares def. Clay Guida (guillotine choke), Roan Carneiro def. Mark Munoz (rear-naked choke), Alexis Davis def. Sarah Kaufman (armbar), Marion Reneau def. Jessica Andrade (triangle), Ray Borg def. Chris Kelades (kimura), Maryna Moroz vs. Joanne Calderwood (armbar), Max Holloway def. Cub Swanson (guillotine choke)