Top Submission Artists in Each Division: Letting The Stats Decide

Top Submission Artists in Each Division: Letting The Stats Decide


As most of us are aware, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu plays a major role in the sport of MMA. Many BJJ practitioners try their hand at MMA, and where many have succeeded many have failed. The reason being is part of BJJ is perfect and easily translatable to MMA, part is not. Some BJJ practitioners bring over the right parts and some don’t. Being a blackbelt in BJJ and even owning world championships doesn’t necessarily mean that the skills you have will translate over well into MMA. Take Roger Gracie for example, The most decorated BJJ fighter to ever compete in MMA yet he was handily controlled on the ground by Tim Kennedy. My point being, excelling at BJJ and BJJ tournaments doesn’t mean you will pick up the submissions in MMA, as a matter of fact many wrestlers and pure MMA fighters have become quite comfortable locking up a submission. So in this article we will take a look at the fighters who have been able to make BJJ work for them in the cage and gain submission victories in the UFC. Here is the criteria we are going to use…..

  • Only submission wins attained in the UFC will be counted
  • Only current UFC fighters are eligible
  • Must have had at least 5 UFC fights
 
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Honourable Mentions
Unfortunately not all fighters could make it on to the list as some didn’t meet criteria and some where just unlucky having slightly less than the leading fighters, but they still deserve a mention so here goes. Ronda Rousey, the face of WMMA and current UFC 135lb Champion, Rousey loves an armbar finish and in her UFC career she has picked up 2 victories this way. Gunnar Nelson, after having only 4 fights with the UFC, has picked up 3 submission victories. Donald Cerrone and Gleison Tibau are unfortunate they are in such a deep division as they have both picked up 4 submission wins in their time with the company.
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Heavyweight
 
  1. Frank Mir: 8 submission victories out of 14 total UFC wins
  2. Stefan Struve: 4 submission victories out of 9 total UFC wins
  3. Gabriel Gonzaga: 4 submission victories out of 11 total UFC wins
  1. Frank Mir: 57.1% of total UFC wins were by submission
  2. Stefan Struve: 44.4% of total UFC wins were by submission
  3. Gabriel Gonzaga: 36.3% of total UFC wins were by submission

No surprise here then that Frank Mir takes the top spot. The other two I wasn’t expecting. both Gonzaga and Struve have picked up soild submission wins and have earned themselves a spot. The omissions of Big Nog and Werdum are ones I wasn’t expecting as they are on the tip of peoples tongues when it comes to naming the best submission artist at Heavyweight. I can see Werdum breaking into the top three after he gets a few more UFC wins under his belt.

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Flyweight
 
  1. John Moraga: 2 submission victories out of 4 total UFC wins
  1. John Moraga: 50% of total UFC wins were by submission
This came as a massive surprise to me, I really wasn’t expecting John Moraga to appear on this list but he is here nonetheless. In Moraga’s Four UFC victories he has picked up Two submission victories, which isn’t too bad if you ask me. I was expecting Jussier Formiga to be on the list as he is renowned to be the best submission guy in the whole Flyweight division but at the minute Formiga has only picked up One submission win against veteran Scott Jorgensen. I anticipate that Formiga will be on the list by this time next year.
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Light Heavyweight
 
  1. Jon Jones: 5 submission victories out of 14 total UFC wins
  2. Phil Davis: 3 submission victories out of 8 total UFC wins
  3. Anthony Persosh: 2 submission victories out of 4 total UFC wins
  1. Anthony Perosh: 50% of total UFC wins by submission
  2. Phil Davis: 37.5% of total UFC wins by submission
  3. Jon Jones: 35.7% of total UFC wins by submission

It had to be Jon Jones leading the way with total submissions, after all he does have the most wins in Light Heavyweight history. Phil Davis sneaks in with his 3 submission victories, mainly his very nice anaconda choke as well as thatwonderfully weird hammerlock/Kimura hybrid on Tim Boetsch. Perosh brings up the rear gaining 2 submission wins in his 4 UFC victories. Both Glover Teixeira and Alexander Gustafsson just missed out on the top 3, both had 2 submission wins each but both had taken more fights than Persosh to gain the subs.

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Bantamweight
  1. Urijah Faber: 5 submission victories out of 7 total UFC wins
  2. Bryan Caraway: 4 submission victories out of 4 total UFC wins
  3. Tie between Alex Caceres and Rani Yahya: 2 submissions out of a total of 5 UFC wins
  1. Bryan Caraway: 100% of total UFC wins by submission
  2. Urijah Faber: 71.4% of total UFCwins by submission
  3. Alex Caceres and Rani Yahya: 40% of total UFC wins by submission

Urijah Faber comes out on top in the total submission victories and in my eyes I think he is one of the most underrated sub guys in MMA. Bryan Caraway places second but he has managed to pick up 4 sub wins in his 4 UFC wins, thats a pretty awesome record. Bruce Leeroy and Rani Yahya are tied for third with both fighters picking up 2 sub victories in 5 UFC wins. Renan Barao just missed out on the third spot racking up 2 submission victories in 7 UFC wins. Another guy who could also throw his name into the hat over the next year or so is Mitch Gagnon who looks pretty solid on the ground. I’m also interested in how Pedro Munhoz and Ian Entwhistle do over the next year as both guys enjoy a good submission victory.

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Middleweight
 
  1. Ed Herman: 4 submission victories out of a 9 total UFC wins
  2. Alan Belcher: 4 submission victories out of 9 total UFC wins *(1 was due to strikes)
  3. Thales Leites: 3 submission victories in 9 total UFC wins
  1. Ed Herman: 44.4% of total UFC wins by submission
  2. Alan Belcher: 44.4% of total UFC wins by submission
  3. Thales Leites: 33.3% of total UFC wins by submission
The Middleweight division is pretty crazy to be quite honest. Barring Thales Leites who I thoiught may be involved somewhere, I wouldn’t have even thought of Ed Herman or Alan Belcher to be in the top Three. Their record speak for themselves though and 4 submission wins is a very good number for both of these fighters. Anderson Silva just missed out along with Nate Marquardt, both guys have earned 3 submission victories but took more fights than Leites. Jacare Souza is the obvious omission here , already gaining 2 subs in his first 4 UFC wins. I fully expect him to be the leader some time in the near future. Another fighter who could earn a place too is Antonio Braga Neto, as long as he keeps fighting regularly he should get his name up there along side Jacare.
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Featherweight

  1. Cole Miller: 7 submission victories in 10 total UFC wins
  2. Charles Oliveira: 6 submission victories in 6 total UFC wins
  3. Thiago Tavares: 4 submission victories in 9 total UFC wins
  1. Charles Oliveira: 100% of total UFC wins by submission
  2. Cole Miller: 70% of total UFC wins by submission
  3. Thiago Tavares: 44.4% of total UFC wins by submission

The Featherweight division has given us some high numbers in terms of total submissions, Cole Miller leading the way with a very impressive 7 submission victories. Charles Oliveira has done exceptional picking up all of his 6 UFC wins via submission. The underrated Thiago Tavares comes in third with 4, I can see him making a push up the Featherweight rankings this coming year. Poirier just missed out with 3 submission victories. Other fighters have shown glimpses of their BJJ, namely The Korean Zombie and Jimmy Hettes and I like how active Chas Skelly is on the ground, the guy will definitely grab a few more submissions if he keeps fighting that way.

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Welterweight
  1. Demian Maia: 6 submission victories in 13 total UFC wins
  2. Dan Miller: 4 submission victories in 6 total UFC wins
  3. TJ Waldburger: 3 submission victories in 4 total UFC wins
  1. TJ Waldburger: 75% of total UFC wins by submission
  2. Dan Miller: 66.6% of total UFC wins by submission
  3. Demian Maia: 46.1% of total UFC wins by submission

As most of you probably guessed Demian Maia is top of the heap, leading the way with 6. Funny thing is Maia has only managed 1 submission win in his last 14 Octagon appearances. Suprisingly Dan Miller gets his name on the list, renowned as a scrappy guy I wasn’t expecting to see him placed in second. Finally in the third spot we have TJ Waldburger, who has picked up 3 of his 4 UFC victories by submission, earning himself a spot at the top of the percentage leaderboard. Gunnar Nelson looks to be putting himself in position to take the top spot picking up 3 subs in his 4 UFC wins. Fighters such as Sergio Moraes will also be looking to knock Maia off that top spot.

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Lightweight
  1. Nate Diaz: 8 submission victories in 12 total UFC wins
  2. Joe Lauzon: 7 submission victories in 11 total UFC wins
  3. Jim Miller: 6 submission victories in 13 total UFC wins
  1. Nate Diaz: 66.6% of total wins by submission
  2. Joe Lauzon: 63.6% of total wins by submission
  3. Jim Miller: 46.1% of total victories by submission
The Lightweight division has been the most fruitful out of all the divisions. Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller have put up some pretty amazing numbers in their time with the UFC. Diaz earning the most submission victories in the whole company and Lauzon and Miller are both right up there. With Diaz on hiatus from the sport Lauzon and Miller will be looking to capitalise and overtake the man from Stockon. As previously mentioned Cowboy Cerrone and Gleison Tibau were unlucky to just fall behind these Three with 4 submissions each. There is some fresh blood in the division who will be looking to make an impact the most notable of which are Carlos Diego Ferreira and Gilbert Burns. Both incredible BJJ artists who will be looking to translate that to their MMA. Michael Chiesa is another guy worth a mention having picked up 3 of his 4 UFC wins via submission.
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Total Submissions Rankings
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All of the above is statistically accurate, no subjectivity has come into play in this article. Those are the most productive fighters in their respective division in regards to submission victories. Hope you enjoyed the read. Until next time…..

Written by Ryan Thomas MMA enthusiast/predictor/gambler and writer

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