When picking the best fight, knockout, and submission of January 2017, the submission category was for sure the toughest to narrow down a winner. Was it Diego Brandão’s beautiful helicopter-armbar finish over 20-1 grappler Murad Machaev? Or was it Valentina Shevchenko’s unexpected (and brutal) armbar finish of Julianna Peña?
Those two seemed to be the most discussed, but it seems as though people have already forgotten some of the fights in 2017. UFC Fight Night 103 took place on January 15 in Phoenix, Arizona. The undercard featured an intriguing heavyweight fight between veteran Alexey Oleynik and prospect Viktor Pešta.
What we saw take place in this fight made UFC history. After being mounted by Pešta, Oleynik managed to pull off one of the most rare submissions in MMA; an ezekiel choke. Even the commentators, one of which was Daniel Cormier, a great grappler in his own right, were stunned when Pešta tapped. The arena went crazy, and no one seemed to know what had just happened.
The choke is primarily used in grappling where the opponent is wearing a gi or kimono, and is normally only used in that setting because the choke is one where the fighter doing the choke is using his own sleeve for leverage, something that you obviously cannot do in an MMA fight. The easiest way to describe the choke is; it’s pretty similar to a rear naked choke, but backwards, with the opponents facing each other. Pulling it off while being mounted makes the already difficult submission to pull off even more insane.
Oleynik is one of the trickiest, most consistent grapplers in the heavyweight division. In this fight he intentionally gave Pešta the mount position to pull off this choke. That is the kind of confidence this man has in his submission abilities. And with 42 of his 51 victories coming by way of submission, why wouldn’t he?
This was the first ever ezekiel choke submission in UFC history. What’s even crazier? This was the tenth ezekiel choke finish of Oleynik’s career!
The first month of 2017 featured some amazing submissions, so here are a few honorable mentions!
- UFC Denver | Valentina Shevchenko def. Julianna Peña via Armbar
- UFC Denver | Jason Knight def. Alex Caceres via Rear Naked Choke
- EFN 58 | Diego Brandão def. Murad Machaev via Helicopter Armbar
- Bellator 170 | Tito Ortiz def. Chael Sonnen via Rear Naked Choke
- LFA 2 | Bobby Lee def. Matt Marsh via Kimura
- Invicta FC 21 | Raquel Pa’aluhi def. Pannie Kianzad via Rear Naked Choke
- TKO 37 | Charles Jourdain def. Michael Cyr via Rear Naked Choke