Unique submissions highlighted 2017, but which was most impressive?

Although submissions happened at a slightly lessened rate statistically at the top of the sport, there were plenty of awesome finishes in 2017 that stemmed from memorable bits of grappling.

There were a number of first to take place in the UFC specifically over the past 12 months, and some marquee bouts ended in submissions, as well.

With 2017 about to come to a close, everyone is debating which finish most deserves “Submission of the Year” honors. MMAjunkie has been tracking the best through monthly awards, and below are the winners voted on by our staff as well as readers.

(Of course, we know there still is time to add to this list with year-end events around the corner, including UFC 219 this week. But before that, vote in our poll at the bottom of the story for your favorite submission so far.)

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Aleksei Oleinik def. Viktor Pesta at UFC Fight Night 103 in January

Aleksei Oleinik became the first fighter in UFC history to finish a bout with a rare Ezekiel choke when he tapped a visibly stunned Viktor Pesta in the first round.

James Vick def. Abel Trujillo at UFC Fight Night 104 in February

James Vick wanted a bounce-back fight after the first official loss of his pro career. He got one in a big way at the expense of Abel Trujillo, scoring a slick D’Arce choke.

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Iuri Alcantara def. Luke Sanders at UFC 209 in March

Iuri Alcantara staged one of the greatest statistical comebacks in UFC history when he rallied from multiple near-stoppages and a 107 strike differential to submit the previously unbeaten Luke Sanders with a kneebar.

Ovince Saint Preux def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima at UFC Fight Night 108 in April

Former interim UFC light heavyweight title challenger Ovince Saint Preux found a trademark finisher in the form of a submission rarely seen executed in MMA. For the second time in his UFC career, Saint Preux won with a Von Flue choke when he tapped Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

Alexis Dufresne def. Marloes Coenen at Bellator 155 in May

In what was unquestionably the biggest win of her career, grappling specialist Alexis Dufresne picked up a shocking first-round triangle choke finish of 7-1 favorite Marloes Coenen in her Bellator debut.

Zach Freeman def. Aaron Pico at Bellator NYC in June

The long-awaited debut of MMA super-prospect Aaron Pico went horribly awry when he was hurt with a huge punch and then submitted by Zach Freeman’s D’Arce choke all within the span of 24 stunning seconds.

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Marlon Vera def. Brian Kelleher at UFC on FOX 25 in July

After picking up a surprising and quick submission win in his UFC debut earlier this year, Brian Kelleher experienced the other side of the coin when he tapped out to an armbar early in the first frame of his fight with Marlon Vera.

Fernando Gonzalez def. Brennan Ward at Bellator 182 in August

Fernando Gonzalez continued to rebound from his lone Bellator loss, which occurred in 2016, when he rallied to submit Brennan Ward with a slick guillotine choke in the third round of their catchweight bout.

Ovince Saint Preux def. Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 117 in September

Saint Preux once again pulled off his signature submission when he defeated short-notice opponent Yushin Okami with his specialty Von Flue choke for the third time in his octagon career.

Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg at UFC 216 in October

Demetrious Johnson’s long journey toward UFC championship history reached its conclusion with his most memorable octagon moment to date when he scored a spectacular fifth-round armbar submission of Ray Borg.

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Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in November

Georges St-Pierre promised to make history against Michael Bisping, and he delivered when a third-round rear-naked choke made him just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win belts in two weight classes.

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Brett Johns def. Joe Soto at TUF 26 Finale in December

Welsh bantamweight Brett Johns kept his perfect record intact, using just 30 seconds to tap out Joe Soto with just the second calf slicer submission finish in UFC history.

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Brian Ortega def. Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 123 in December

The book on Brian Ortega is if he gets your neck, the fight is pretty much game over. Cub Swanson found that out the hard way, succumbing to a second-round guillotine choke against the unbeaten featherweight prospect.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 189 weigh-ins: Budd-Blecowe title fight set, but Dufresne again misses weight

The headlining title fight is set, but Friday’s Bellator 189 card has lost a fight.

Women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd (10-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) and challenger Arlene Blencowe (10-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) both successfully made weight for the main event.

Budd weighed 143.9 pounds, and Blencowe was 144.6.

Bellator 189 takes place at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla., and airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

Although the headliners were on the mark, a preliminary-card bout between Alexis Dufresne (6-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) and Amber Leibrock (2-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) was scrapped. Dufresne missed weight for the featherweight bout, and officials canceled the bout.

It’s Dufresne’s fifth straight time missing weight. Her previous failure cost her a shot at the Bellator belt.

The full Bellator 189 weigh-in results included:

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Julia Budd (143.9) vs. Arlene Blencowe (144.6) – for women’s featherweight title
  • Chris Honeycutt (185.4) vs. Rafael Lovato (185.7)
  • Hisaki Kato (185.2) vs. Chidi Njokuani (185.3)
  • Adam Piccolotti (160.6) vs. David Rickels (160.7) – 160-pound catchweight


  • Ky Bennett (130.9) vs. Stephanie Geltmacher (130.9) – 130-pound catchweight
  • Kemmyelle Haley (169.5) vs. Brian Grinnell (169.9)
  • Thomas Lopez (145.7) vs. Cris Williams (145.6)
  • Marcos Galvao (145.8) vs. Sam Sicilia (146)
  • Na Ling (125) vs. Juliana Velasquez (126)
  • Jordan Howard (134.7) vs. Brandon Phillips (135)
  • Mandel Nallo (155.4) vs. Alec Williams (155.4)
  • Gaston Bolanos (151) vs. Rick Gutierrez (148.4) – 150-pound catchweight
  • Franklin Patterson (185.4) vs. Andrew Parker (184.7)

For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Sam Sicilia vs. Marcos Galvao, Alexis Dufresne vs. Amber Leibrock set for Bellator 189

Longtime UFC fighter Sam Sicilia now has a date and an opponent for his Bellator debut.

Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will take on former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao (18-8-1 MMA, 8-5 BMMA) in a featherweight bout at Bellator 189 in December. A Bellator official told MMAjunkie of the booking today.

In addition, Alexis Dufresne (6-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) will take on Amber Leibrock (2-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a women’s featherweight bout.

Bellator 189 takes place Dec. 1 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The card airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

Sicilia came to Bellator earlier this year as a free agent after a 12-fight run in the UFC, where he went 5-7. He got his start with the promotion on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the only live season of the show.

The veteran fighter will be trying to snap a three-fight skid to get his first win since July 2015. His UFC tenure closed out with a knockout loss to Doo Ho Choi in November 2015, a submission loss to Gabriel Benitez 13 months ago and a decision loss to Gavin Tucker in February.

Marcos Galvao

Galvao will be trying to get back on track, as well. The longtime Bellator fighter won the bantamweight title in March 2015 with a submission of Joe Warren. But in his first defense, which came 15 months later, he lost the title to Eduardo Dantas. He rebounded with a split call over L.C. Davis this past December, but headed back to the loss column at Bellator 175 in March against Emmanuel Sanchez.

Dufresne submitted Marloes Coenen in her promotional debut at Bellator 155 in May 2016, but in March headed back to the loss column when she was stopped with a second-round TKO by Gabrielle Holloway at Bellator 174. Including a pair of decision losses in her two fights in the UFC, Dufresne has dropped three of her past four fights.

Liebrock will be making her Bellator debut after fighting her first three pro bouts under the Invicta FC banner. There, she had first-round knockout wins over Marina Shafir and Amy Coleman sandwiched around a TKO loss to current featherweight champion Megan Anderson in January 2016.

The latest Bellator 189 card now includes:

  • Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blancowe – for women’s featherweight title
  • Chris Honeycutt vs. Rafael Lovato
  • Hisaki Kato vs. Chidi Njokuani
  • Marcos Galvao vs. Sam Sicilia
  • Alexis Dufresne vs. Amber Leibrock

For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 181 sees Brittney Elkin step in to face Amanda Bell, Katy Collins vs. Bruna Vargas added

Featherweight prospect Brittney Elkin is set to make her Bellator debut on Friday night at “Bellator 181: Campos vs. Girtz 3” in Thackerville, Okla.

Elkin (3-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) steps in on short notice to face Amanda Bell (4-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a rematch from April 2014. Bell’s original opponent for Friday’s card, Alexis Dufresne, withdrew from the event due to undisclosed reasons, leaving an opportunity for Elkin to sign on for her most high-profile fight to date.

Also confirmed for the Bellator 181 preliminary card is a flyweight matchup between proven finisher Katy Collins (6-2 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) and highly-touted Brazilian Bruna Vargas (2-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who seeks redemption after dropping her Bellator debut this past year.

MMAjunkie recently confirmed the updated fight bookings with Bellator officials.

Elkin has won two of her past three fights, including a decision victory over Bellator contender Gabrielle Holloway. The Colorado native makes a quick return to action after scoring a first-round TKO win two weeks ago under the Sparta Combat League banner.

Bell halted a two-fight losing skid by defeating Holloway in a February bout for King of the Cage, which earned her a Bellator contract and a spot on Friday’s card. She will look to make it two-for-two against Elkin, whom she submitted with a second-round rear-naked choke in the pair’s first meeting three years ago.

Collins racked up a stellar five-fight winning streak – including four first-round stoppages – leading into her bout with top Bellator flyweight contender Emily Ducote at Bellator 174 in March, but she succumbed to a Ducote rear-naked choke very late in the opening round.

Like her opponent, Vargas also looks to get back in the win column after suffering a loss to Ducote at Bellator 159. She has not fought in almost a full year, but plans to get back into contention in Bellator’s ever-expanding 125-pound women’s division with a win on Friday.

In addition to the Elkins-Bell and Collins-Vargas preliminary-card bouts, Bellator 181 includes a main-card flyweight showdown between the aforementioned Ducote (5-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) and promotional mainstay Jessica Middleton (2-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA).

The Bellator 181 lineup now includes:

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Derek Campos vs. Brandon Girtz
  • Kendall Grove vs. John Salter
  • Emily Ducote vs. Jessica Middleton
  • Steve Garcia vs. Joe Warren


  • Romero Cotton vs. Aaron Rodriguez
  • Rafael Lovato vs. Mike Rhodes
  • Justin Lawrence vs. Treston Thomison
  • Valentin Moldavsky vs. Carl Seumanutafa
  • Jordan Howard vs. Johnny Marigo
  • Andre Fialho vs. A.J. Matthews
  • Amanda Bell vs. Brittney Elkin
  • Kemmyelle Haley vs. Logan Storley
  • William Florentino vs. Jonathan Gary
  • E.J. Brooks vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos
  • Katy Collins vs. Bruna Vargas
  • Guillermo Gonzalez vs. Fernando Trevino

For more on Bellator 181, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie