The Most Incredible Guillotine of All Time
Event: IFL Semi-Finals 2007
Participants: Dan Miller vs. Dave Phillips
The Set-Up: Miller and Phillips were both relative unknowns on the national stage, filling in for a pair of injured fighters. With similar records, the two seemed an even match to anyone without any special inside information on either fighter, and the fight seemed destined to go to an even decision. Miller had other plans. After quickly taking Phillips down, Miller got overzealous in his bashing, and Phillips threw up an armbar. Not panicking, Miller calmly stood up and spiked Phillips on his head, leading to a scramble as Phillips attempted to stand.
Miller was handpicked to fill in by Renzo Gracie. Phillips was handpicked by a body builder. Turns out Renzo knew MMA a little better. Miller locked in a standing guillotine as Phillips clambered to his feet, then pressed him against the ropes, bending his head down at the worst angle MMA fans had ever seen. Until he rocked back and pressed again, teaching Phillips that you don’t always need a stethoscope to hear your own heartbeat.
The Most Incredible Leg Lock of All Time
Event: Pride Shockwave 2004
Participants: Ryo Chonan vs. Anderson Silva
The Set-Up: Anderson Silva may not have been Anderson Silva quite yet, but he wasn’t Ryo Chonan either. With just one loss in his previous thirteen bouts, he was on quite the hot streak, and continued it into the early portions of the fight. While just who was winning the fight to that point is hotly debated by MMA fans, what is not debated is that the way the fight ended was fucking brilliant
Chonan launched himself at Silva’s legs with all the ill-will of a Brazilian slide tackle, and swept Silva to the ground. In one fluid motion, he latched onto Silva’s leg and solicited a quick tap from Silva, and pretty much condemned Silva to MMA obscurity. Oh no wait, his only loss since still ended with him knocking the other guy out.
The Most Incredible Rear Naked Choke of All Time
Event: UFC 46: Supernatural
Participants: BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes
The Set-Up: Hughes was squarely in the middle of a run at welterweight which would see him crowned the most dominant welterweight of all time (at least so long as GSP makes good on vows to go to 185 with a few more wins.) Penn was a hot prospect who had twice failed to capture the UFC Lightweight belt, and whose bid for the next belt up, from its dominant champion, seemed silly.
HOLY FUCK!: Odds-be-damned, Penn showed off his top-notch grappling by taking Hughes’ back and slapping on a rear naked choke, completing one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Penn summarily left the UFC, then spent the next several years trying his damnedest to prove he really could be a dominant force at welterweight. He was less successful in those endeavors, prompting him to move back to lightweight, where he has seen fit to utterly decimate the best the division has had to throw it him on multiple occasions.
The Most Incredible Triangle of All Time
Event: Bellator Fighting Championships 4
Participants: Toby Imada vs. Jorge Masvidal
The Set-Up: The Bellator Fighting Championships was a small organization with a big television deal, getting play on ESPN Deportes across the nation. While the organization had a handful of blue chip prospects, most notably lightweight Eddie Alverez, the early rounds of the lightweight tournament were looked at as merely formalities which would lead to a Alverez-Masvidal final. For most of Masvidal and Imada’s semi-final bout, the assumptions were correct. Then Masvidal decided to shoot on the battered Imada.
It was not a great decision. With Masvidal driving his head through Imada’s legs, Imada calmly secured the familiar figure-four grip by tucking his ankle beneath his other knee. From guard, Masvidal knew he would be in a triangle choke. From his current position, he appeared to know fuck all about what position he was in. By the time Masvidal knew he was in trouble, it was nap time. The video blew up on YouTube, which became a bit of a trend for Bellator fight highlights.
The Most Incredible Armbar of All Time
Event: The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale
Participants: Dustin Hazelett vs. Josh Burkman
The Set-Up: Both fighters entered the match off the back of a loss to an Ultimate Fighter 1 competitor, and both had seen UFC careers full of wins over mid-to-lower level competition, and losses in their steps into the big time. Each needed a big time win to propel them into the public consciousness, unfortunately they each found themselves paired with another guy still looking for a big win, and so there was little hope of that happening without a spectacular finish. Hazelett really seemed to get this last point.
HOLY FUCK!: Rumina Sato had this category on what appeared to be permanent lockdown until Hazelett grabbed hold of Burkman’s arm and used a whizzer to toss Burkman down. Hazelett quickly swung his leg over Burkman’s head with agility of a ninja cat, and locked in an armbar so beautiful you can actually hear the moment Joe Rogan needs to change his pants in his voice.
The Most Incredible Kimura of All Time
Event: Pride Critical Countdown 2004
Participants: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Kevin Randleman
The Set-Up: Randleman and Fedor were who we thought they were. Fedor was an unstoppable beating machine, with only a not-so-real loss on his record. Randleman was the former UFC Champion with the freakish physique and kind of stupid haircut. Everything seemed to be going pretty awesome for Randleman early on, as he grabbed Fedor from behind and launched him over his head in a suplex. The Russian’s body arced through the air, before coming down squarely on the top of his head, marking the second time on this list an entire stadium was sure they just saw a man’s head and spine go their separate ways.
Only, Fedor isn’t what we refer to as, in layman’s terms, human. After sustaining the stadium-rocking blow entirely on his head, Fedor calmly betters his position, sweeps Randleman and locks in a kimura. Also, for some reason, this is all happens to the sound of the song from a movie whose franchise is most famous for an American beating the Christ out of a Russian.
The Most Incredible Gogoplata of All Time
Event: Dream 4 – Middleweight Grand Prix 2008 Quarterfinals
Participants: Shinya Aoki vs. Katsuhiko Nagata
The Set-Up: It says a lot about how mind-blowingly entertaining MMA has become in the past few years that the gogoplata submission has been pulled off enough times in the sport for it to warrant its own category on this list. Aoki himself first pulled off the move on Joachim Hansen, and Nick Diaz made it really famous (which is to say Americans cared about it) when he slapped it on Takanori Gomi, the world’s greatest lightweight from now until forever in many fans’ eyes, results be damned. Hell, even Brad Imes pulled it off. Twice. Consecutively.
Perhaps sensing that the move he had introduced to the sport was becoming passé, Aoki decided it was time to crank up the ridiculous factor ten fold. Securing mount against an outmatched Nagata, Aoki channeled the power of his Magical Submission Pants of Ultimate Victorious Destiny (Victorious destiny not assured at welterweight)TM grabbed his foot in his hands, and slowly dragged it across Nagata’s throat for the mounted gogoplata victory.
The Most Incredible Nothing at All That We Can See of All Time
Event: The Ultimate Fighting Championships
Participants: Royce Grace vs. Art Jimmerson
The Set-Up: This was the first ever match for early-UFC force of domination Royce Gracie, and paired up against a larger boxer, many at home no-doubt were sure they were about to see a small Brazilian man punched into oblivion. Then Jimmerson came out with one glove, and even those who didn’t really get this Ultimate Cage Fighting thing quite yet were pretty sure that was a bad decision. Gracie quickly took Jimmerson down and went about passing guard and taking the full mount, ready to continue the assault and eventually free up an arm or a chance to take the back and sink in a choke.
HOLY FUCK!: Or, he could have just sat there and thought about kittens, and it would have had the same effect. With Gracie in mount, Jimmerson flashed back to a conversation he had prior to the event with future referee super star Big John McCarthy, wherein McCarthy told him if he was ever in pain on the ground and didn’t want a limb snapped in half, he should tap. Realizing his chances of getting out from beneath Gracie without ending up in such a hold, Jimmerson cut out the middle man of getting caught and just went ahead and tapped to Royce being in a better position than he was. The crowd lost their collective mind, and booed over the decision to tap when not being punched, just as they had to Ken Shamrock’s leg lock victory in the previous bout. Admittedly, they were slightly less right to do so that time.