A crafty veteran and a hail Mary, last second finish topped the list of 2018’s best submissions in MMA.
The submission of the year race in 2018 was neck and neck, no pun intended. Two names stood out. Aleksei Olenik, with yet another Ezekiel choke, a submission that might as well be renamed to the Olenik choke at this point. And Paul Craig, whose last-second triangle choke submission at UFC London last March shocked the MMA world.
Who crossed the finish line first? Our writers give their answers below!
Submission of the Year 2018
Heath Harshman: We saw Ovince Saint-Preux get slept by Ilir Latifi via standing guillotine. We also saw (another) ezekiel choke from Aleksei Oleinik. But for me, Paul Craig’s last-second triangle choke of Magomed Ankalaev was the Submission of the Year. It was an upset win for Craig, who had lost back-to-back fights going into the matchup. He was undeniably down on the scorecards as the fight neared its end, but managed to catch Ankalaev and get him to tap before the final bell rang.
Mike Straus: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Paul Craig – Fight Night 127 Are you kidding me!? With one second left in the fight Paul Craig locks in a triangle choke and his opponent panics and taps. This is one of the greatest comebacks in MMA not just submission of the year.
Jay Anderson: So, everyone’s going to go with Paul Craig, because of the last-second nature of the finish. While impressive, I’m not sure the timing of a submission makes it the best submission of the year. Instead, I’m going to go with Aljamain Sterling and Zabit Magomedsharipov. They can share the Submission of the Year, after both pulled off modified kneebars on the same card at UFC 228 — Sterling against Cody Stamann, Magomedsharipov against Brandon Davis.
Josh Evanoff: Imagine being down two rounds and you’re being beat up badly on the ground. You then keep getting beat up in the third round and hear the ten second bell, that’s the position Paul Craig was in against Magomed Ankalaev. Paul Craig then threw up a Hail Mary submission against the undefeated Russian prospect in the final seconds and submitted him with one second remaining. Comeback of the year, and the best submission of the year.
Jesse Gillette: Anthony Pettis submits Michael Chiesa via Triangle Armbar.
Eddie Law: Zabit and Aljo pulled off the nastiest knee bars, in fact something that had been pulled off only once before in UFC history, on the same card. Sub of the year for the pair of “Suloev Stretch” finishes. Nasty stuff.
Paarth Pande: Oleinik’s submission over Albini. That was super cool!
Farzin Vousoughian: Paul Craig at UFC London in March. Very unexpected, coming through right before the end of the match.
Mike McClory: As long as Alexey Oleinik Keeps giving us ridiculous Ezekiel chokes I’ll keep picking him every year. This year I’m going with Oleinik’s submission of Junior Albini. He pulls guard and BAM! Ezekiel choke from the bottom, beautiful!
Dan Doherty: Alexey Oleinik’s Ezekiel Choke against Junior Albini. He did it again. Maybe a little less impressive this time since he wasn’t mounted, but outstanding nonetheless. What was fascinating about this one was his set up from the clinch. Oleinik gave up underhooks and wrapped up the neck while standing, then pulled Albini on top of him, not truly caring where the Brazilian landed because he knew it was locked in. Albini was out of options and had to tap while in top position in half guard. Amazing.
Gabriel Gonzalez: Vinny Magalhaes on Rakim Cleveland. On a technical level just impressive and showed why Magalhaes is the favorite to win it all for PFL. Going from a triangle to a kimura and making it look easy. For me, it showed the kind of creativity that you expect from someone of his caliber.
Honorable mention, Alexey Olynik with another Ezekiel choke is just hard to comprehend.
The end result: Paul Craig earns the tap, err, Submission of the Year 2018, with his last second triangle choke of Magomed Ankalaev at UFC London.