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5 best kneebar submissions in the UFC

UFC 100: Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar
UFC 100: Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar

The kneebar may not be a frequently used move but is incredibly painful when done to submit an opponent. A move that'll have even the most flexible of fighters wincing in pain, kneebars hyperextend the knee joint, forcing the victim to tap out or suffer serious injury.

A flying triangle and historic kneebar were among some of the best UFC submissions of 2020 ๐Ÿ’ช https://t.co/qVR6AbwyXJ

While the UFC has seen its fair share of nasty submissions, this move in particular is one of the most painful. Fighters who are savvy in the grappling department are able to use this submission from positions that almost seem completely defensive. Furthermore, the kneebar is one of many leg lock submissions, so it's disguised with the threat of heel hooks, ankle locks, toe holds, etc.

Kneebar's are especially fun to watch because they aren't expected. It's hard to pull off, but when done, the effectiveness is shown via grimaces and frantic taps. To take a better look at this move, we'll delve into the top five kneebar submissions ever performed in the UFC.


#5. Frank Mir submits Brock Lesnar via kneebar

Frank Mir at a Press Conference
Frank Mir at a Press Conference

This may be the most popular kneebar of all time. Not only does Brock Lesnar's name hold weight, but the man himself is rather monsterous. Standing at 6'3" and weighing 265lbs, Lesnar is as physically imposing a fighter as the UFC has seen. His very successful wrestling career in college translated perfectly for a spot in the WWE. Lesnar is huge, intimidating, and athletic. He's the quintessential professional wrestler.

While he was succeeding as a professional wrestler, Frank Mir was competing as an MMA fighter. When Lesnar wanted to try his hand at the sport, he dominated in his professional debut and earned a shot in the UFC against the submission specialist.

As the bout began, Lesnar's large presence was the initial takeaway. While the power was expected, his speed caught many off guard. Within ten seconds, the collegiate wrestler scored a takedown on his experienced opponent. Subsequent strikes were doing damage and the going wasn't looking great for Mir. Nevertheless, he believed in his jiu-jitsu and kept his composure.

Frank Mir vs Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 in Las Vegas, NV on February 2, 2008. #DWCOTD https://t.co/pdHLZHntP8

A stray hammerfirst found the back of Mir's head and warranted a point deduction against Lesnar. Subsequent to the foul, the fighters were made to stand up. This striking battle didn't last long as Mir's leg kick was countered with a right hand and he was once again on the mat. Lesnar pursued the finish, but he left his leg out in the open and Mir made him pay dearly. He locked onto the isolated leg and used his body as a pendulum to put his very large opponent off-balance. The kneebar was locked in shortly after Lesnar hit the ground and though he was hesitant, he had no choice but to tapout in his UFC debut.


#4. Jim Miller defeats Charles Oliveira

Jim Miller submits Charles Oliveira
Jim Miller submits Charles Oliveira

One of the most successful fighters in the UFC is Jim Miller. 'A-10' entered the UFC in 2008 and is sure to have a spot in the promotion's Hall of Fame for his longevity and overall incredible career.

Jim Miller still packs a punch ๐Ÿ’ฅ #UFCVegas48 https://t.co/ibYYHTyNL7

Of all the achievements, one that has aged particularly well is that he gave the current UFC lightweight champion his first loss. The two first met in 2010 when Charles Oliveira was a 14-0 fighter who finished all but one victory. Miller, ever the game athlete, took this fight regardless of how dangerous it was.

Relentless pressure from the New Jersey fighter had 'Do Bronx' shooting takedowns off of his back foot which were easy for Miller to defend. While it was 'A-10' who scored the takedown, his Brazilian adversary was happy to engage in a grappling battle. During one of the scrambles, Oliveira tried to attack one of Miller's legs, and in response, Miller countered by attacking a leg right back. The kneebar was locked in, forcing Oliveira to tap and giving the Brazilian his first loss.


#3. Aljamain Sterling vs. Cody Stamann

UFC 214 Aljamain Sterling vs. Renan Barao
UFC 214 Aljamain Sterling vs. Renan Barao

After all the controversy, Aljamain Sterling is now the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion. En route to the title, Sterling picked up some very important wins in his career. One of the best being his electrifying finish of Cody Stamann.

Aljamain Sterling's Suloev Stretch, or a rear naked kneebar. Whatever you fancy. https://t.co/e6teURVS02

If his fights tell you one thing, it's that 'Funk Master' is a problem when he's on an opponent's back. He's very good at getting to that position, too. Though 'The Spartan' was hip to it, Sterling did what he does best and there aren't many fighters who can stop that.

'Funk Master' took Stamann's back and began dominating him from all sides. As strikes rained down, Stamann attempted to utilize gravity and toss his opponent forward by raising his hips into the air. Sterling fell forward, but Stamann fell for the trap. This defensive move gave the Serra-Longo fighter a position to grab a leg and hyperextended it. This submission is both a stretch and a kneebar, so it's painful in multiple ways, earning it a spot amongst the best kneebars in UFC history.


#2. Claudio Puelles defeats Clay Guida

Claudio Puelles (Photo credit @claudio_puelles via Instagram)
Claudio Puelles (Photo credit @claudio_puelles via Instagram)

Claudio Puelles, the man with the kneebar niche, did it again. He recently earned the biggest win of his life with some style points as he scored his third UFC victory by way of kneebar.

Clay Guida may be in his forties, but his past performances show that he's still improving. This was no easy match for 'The Prince of Peru' by any stretch of his imagination. Though 'The Carpenter' is very adept in the grappling department, submission specialists seem to have his number.

The match started off as usual with both fighters on their feet trying to feel each other out. Within the first few minutes of round one, Guida shot for a takedown but Puelles secured his half guard and made the most out it. At first, he had Guida's right arm trapped between his legs and the lock for was very tight around the shoulder. While 'The Carpenter' tried to get out of this position to get his arm free, Puelles switched his hips lightning-quick and secured the leg of his opponent. The pain is so instant that the urge to tap outweighs any thought of defense. Guida tapped out within mere seconds, earning 'The Prince of Peru' his third win by kneebar.


#1. Ariane Lipski defeats Launa Carolina

UFC Fight Night: Lipski (right) vs. Bohm
UFC Fight Night: Lipski (right) vs. Bohm

The 'Queen of Violence' moniker rang true when Ariane Lipski defeated Launa Carolina on Fight Island. Leg entanglements look a bit awkward and can be hard to follow as a viewer, especially when limbs are everywhere and viewers can't tell which part belongs to whom. However, as a submission nears, things quickly become clear.

"The Queen of Violence" @Ariane_lipski lives up to the name with this kneebar ๐Ÿ˜ณ #UFCFightIsland2 https://t.co/sxrZLDDsul

That was the case in Lipski's victory over Carolina. The entanglement was rather intense. 'Dread' attempted a heel hook submission and that's what initiated the position that led to her defeat. Even the commentary booth was surprised when the 28-year-old exposed her back and also put herself in danger of a calf-slicer submission.

She knew what she was doing though. Patient but precise, Lipski eventually peeled the leg she wanted and applied the kneebar from an almost standing position, giving her all the room in the world to increase the torque on the joint. The tap came quickly, but not before a piercing shriek as Carolina vocalized the severe pain she was in.

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Edited by Allan Mathew
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