As the year draws to a close, it's time to look back at some of the most unforgettable UFC moments to happen within the last 12 months, including the five best submissions for the year 2020.
While the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the landscape of professional sports in 2020, UFC overcame numerous obstacles and managed to provide fight fans all over the world with a weekly fix of mixed martial arts action.
In 2020, UFC was able to put on 41 fight cards featuring a total of 456 fights. Of those fights, 82 ended via submission.
Here are 5 of the best submission victories in the UFC for the year 2020:
Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen (UFC 250 - June 6, 2020)
Heading into UFC 250 back in June, Aljamain Sterling was already considered by man as the top contender in the UFC's bantamweight division. He had gone undefeated in his last four fights, recording wins over Brett Johns, Cody Stamman, Jimmie Rivera, and Pedro Munhoz. Still, the man known as 'Funkmaster' had to prove that he deserved a shot at the 135-pound title by winning one more fight. UFC put Sterling in a title eliminator bout against Cory Sandhagen, who had won four straight bantamweight bouts at that point.
Sterling needed just a minute and 28 seconds to submit Sandhagen by rear-naked choke, cementing his spot as the rightful number one contender to the UFC bantamweight championship.
Sterling was scheduled to challenge reigning UFC bantamweight titleholder Petr Yan at UFC 256 last December 12th. The fight ended up being postponed, however, after Yan pulled out due to personal reasons. The two are expected to face off in 2021.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers (UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns - May 30, 2020)
Multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern is one of the most lethal submission specialists in UFC today. At UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns back in May, Dern showed just how dangerous she is on the ground against Hannah Cifers.
Following a botched trip attempt, Dern found herself on her back, trying to avoid ground-and-pound from Cifers. Dern grabbed hold of Cifers' left leg and began to lock in a deep kneebar submission attempt.
Moments later, Dern had her whole body wrapped around Cifers' leg and continued to apply pressure, eventually forcing the tap:
The win against Cifers was Dern's first win of 2020. She has since gone on to win two more times, defeating Randa Markos also by kneebar submission and Virna Jandiroba by unanimous decision.
Dern is currently the 11th-ranked contender in the UFC women's strawweight division. Look for her to make a push for a top-10 ranking in 2021.
Ariane Lipski vs. Luana Carolina (UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 - July 19, 2020)
Women's flyweight contender Ariane Lipski lived up to her 'Queen of Violence' moniker when she pulled off one of the most excruciating submission holds of 2020.
Defending a kneebar attempt from Carolina, Lipski dropped back and began working on her opponent's left leg.
In a display of brilliant technique and sheer strength, Lipski pulled Carolina's leg back and applied devastating pressure on the knee to force the tap.
It was Lipski's second straight win inside the UFC Octagon. Unfortunately for Lipski, she would not be able to end 2020 on a high note, as she absorbed a TKO loss to Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 255 back in November.
Jimmy Flick vs. Cody Durden (UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal - December 19, 2020)
The final UFC event for 2020 marked quite the Octagon debut for Jimmy Flick.
'The Brick' not only earned himself a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus but also turned in a Submission of the Year contender for his flying-triangle choke against Cody Durden.
In the second round of their flyweight contest, Flick launched a head kick that was caught by Durden. It turned out to be the perfect opening for a submission attempt, as Flick jumped up and trapped Durden with a triangle choke.
Flick tightened the hold, leaving Durden with no other choice but to tap.
Flick picked up his 14th win by submission and announced his arrival to the UFC's flyweight division in style.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje (UFC 254 - October 24, 2020)
As masterful as the submission was, it was the events that transpired after the victory that will make this entry all the more unforgettable.
Heading into UFC 254, Nurmagomedov had already gone through a devastating personal tragedy with the passing of his father and head coach Abdulmanap due to COVID-19.
Nurmagomedov battled illness and injury in the lead-up to the Gaethje bout, which was described by AKA coach Javier Mendez as 'their worst-ever training camp' with Khabib. When the Octagon door closed, however, Nurmagomedov showed just why he was an undefeated champion.
Nurmagomedov bucked a slow opening round and dominated in the second round, getting Gaethje down and immediately taking the back. Nurmagomedov then transitioned into full mount before trapping Gaethje in a triangle choke from the top.
Khabib dropped to his back and tightened his squeeze on Gaethje's neck, forcing the challenger to pass out.
During the post-fight interview, Nurmagomedov shocked the world by announcing his retirement.
He ends his impeccable MMA career retiring as a champion and undefeated in 29 professional bouts. Khabib's final performance earned him the top spot in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings.Published 27 Dec 2020, 10:54 IST