MMA 2021 Year in Review: Submission of the Year

Anthony Hernandez UFC
Anthony Hernandez, UFC 258 weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

There were plenty of dazzling submission wins across the MMA landscape in 2021, which made picking a Submission of the Year that much harder. Andre Muniz came very, very close to taking the honor after breaking the arm of Brazilian legend and former Strikeforce champion Jacare Souza at UFC 262.

One other submission stood out just a little bit more, however. Let’s get to it.

Submission of the Year 2021

Jay Anderson: Last year’s winner, AJ McKee, had another good one this year when he choked out Patricio Pitbull. But Andre Muniz broke Jacare Souza’s arm at UFC 262. It’s hard to overlook that.

Farzin Vousoughian: Islam Makhachev’s kimura on Dan Hooker. Islam Makhachev was not messing around against a talented fighter in Dan Hooker. He hurt Hooker early and got the submission to put himself in title contention.

Eddie Law: Brandon Moreno’s RNC on Deivison Figueiredo at UFC 263. Their first bout was literally insane and ended up as a draw where many believed Moreno deserved the nod. Nevertheless they ran it back and Moreno made Figueiredo look lost and confused in the cage as he showed incredible growth in both the striking department and the ground. He took the champion’s neck and took his belt in front of thousands in the Phoenix, Arizona area many who are of Mexican decent and showed up to support one of their own.

Alex Behunin: Anthony Hernandez submitting Rodolfo Vieira who is a gold medalist at the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, the Pan American Championship, the Brazilian World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and the Abu Dhabi World Cup. Yeah, wild. Absolutely no one saw it coming.

Gabriel Gonzalez: Anthony Hernandez vs Rodolfo Vieira – Arm-In Guillotine. While usually I go with a not often seen submission taking place in a major promotion, the degree of difficulty on this move comes not from the actual finish but rather on who it was done to.  Even a quick glance at Rodolfo Vieira’s resume would tell you just how good he is on the mat.  So to have the more unheralded Anthony Hernandez swoop in and get the tap on the multiple time champion is enough to take the honors here.

Justin Gibbons: Glover Teixeira’s submission win over Jan Błachowicz is my Submission of the Year. To watch a veteran of the sport like Glover Teixeira lock in one of his patented submissions to finally capture UFC gold at his age was truly inspirational.

Michael Lynch: Submission of the year is Khamzat Chimaev vs. Li Jingliang, because of Khamzat talking to UFC President Dana White, who was sitting cageside, while doing it.

Josh Evanoff: Glover Teixeira’s RNC of Jan Blachowicz. Not an insane choke on any level, but seeing a fan favorite reach the top of the mountain after decades of working is one of the best highlights of the year.

Bryson Hester: My pick for submission of the year, just beating out Glover vs Jan, Pena vs Nunes and Moreno vs Figueiredo would have to be Anthony Hernandez vs Rodolfo Vieira. Though all of the fights previously mentioned were more important title fights Hernandez vs Vieira was arguably more surprising. Out of all the ways that I saw that fight going, none of them included a 5 time BJJ World Champion with a gold medal at ADCC in Rodolfo Vieira, who entered the bout at an undefeated 8-0 pro MMA record, tapping out to a purple belt in BJJ in Anthony Hernandez.

Shawn Bitter: There weren’t a lot of submissions that stood out this year. With that said Andre Muniz submitting Jacare Souza was quite memorable. Souza was taking a big step up in competition taking on MMA legend Souza. It was the first time Souza lost by submission and his arm was broken from an inverted armbar. Both a shocking and nasty finish.

Daniel Vreeland: Andre Muniz armbars Jacare. For me, this one isn’t really close at all. We have one of the great jiu jitsu practitioners of MMA getting caught with an armbar. We can’t blame it on cardio – it happened early. We can’t say it’s a fluke – Muniz then followed up with that same finish next time out. It was simply Muniz establishing his place at middleweight and in grappling lore with his slick skills.

Dan Doherty: Anthony Hernandez vs. Rodolfo Vieira. After his impressive UFC debut, I was excited to see Rodolfo Vieira continue to rip guys apart. Anthony Hernandez had other plans. He survived the black belt’s attacks and then submitted the BJJ world champ in the second round, beating the expert at his own game. Stunning.

End result: It’s hard not to be impressed with Anthony Hernandez, who defeated a world champion grappler in Rodolfo Vieira via submission back in February — beating one of the most decorated submission artists in the UFC at his own game. And earning our Submission of the Year award, just narrowly beating out Andre Muniz.