Are you wondering what the most common submissions in MMA and the UFC are?
In this article, we’ll look at the complete list of the most common submissions in UFC history and take a closer look at the 7 most common submissions in MMA/UFC by going over why they’re successful and some of the UFC fighters with the most submissions in each.
- Complete List of the Most Common Submissions in MMA/UFC History
- 7 Most Common Submissions in UFC/MMA History
- The Bottom Line
Complete List of the Most Common Submissions in MMA/UFC History
Here’s the complete list of the most common submissions in MMA based on data compiled by Reddit user: sjstell. The data is to the end of 2022 and covers 631 UFC events over 29 years and looks at chokes only.
Chokes are much more common than joint lock submissions, but we decided to add all armbar submissions in UFC history to this list as they’re by far the most common joint lock submission in MMA.
By the end of 2022, there have been 158 armbar submissions in UFC history, making it the third most common submission in the UFC.
The UFC submission data is the best to represent the most common submissions in MMA. This is because it’s the elite level and the UFC has hosted the most events compared to the other top MMA promotions.
7 Most Common Submissions in UFC/MMA History
Of the complete list, let’s take a closer look at the 7 most common submissions in MMA/UFC, such as why they’re so effective, how they’re executed, and the UFC fighters with the most submissions in each.
1. Rear-Naked Choke – 523 Submissions
The rear-naked choke (RNC) is by far the most superior and common submission in MMA/UFC, with the total UFC submissions coming via RNC just shy of 50%.
The RNC is a blood choke that stops blood flow to the brain by squeezing the carotid arteries in the neck. It takes roughly 9 seconds for a fighter to go unconscious and most fighters tap around 5 if they haven’t managed to fight the hands.
The rear-naked choke is the most common submission in MMA because:
- It’s the only submission that can be attempted repeatedly without giving up an advantageous position since it’s initiated from the back of an opponent.
- Fighters tend to have their opponent trapped in a body triangle they can’t escape because they’re continually defending the RNC. Eventually, they get tired as the body triangle squeezes their stomach and they take strikes to the head – before the RNC is locked in.
- There’s no way to muscle out of a rear-naked choke like other submissions. A fighter has to peel the hands from their neck by using both of their hands to fight one of their opponents. This ensures both of their opponent’s hands can’t be used to lock the choke in.
- It’s a very easy choke to execute.
A rear-naked choke is executed by:
- Take the back of an opponent.
- Put one arm under the opponent’s chin and grab the bicep on the other arm.
- Slide the non-choking arm behind the opponent’s head.
- Squeeze the arms together.
The rear-naked choke is the go-to submission after a fighter has hurt their opponent with strikes and knocked them down, or they’ve tired them out with strikes and grappling to the point they don’t have the energy to defend a rear-naked choke.
Some masters of the rear-naked choke in the UFC are:
- Demian Maia – 8 rear-naked choke submissions in UFC
- Kenny Florian – 7 rear-naked choke submissions in UFC
- Charles Oliveira – 6 rear-naked choke submissions in UFC
- Michael Chiesa – 5 rear-naked choke submissions in UFC
2. Guillotine – 251 Submissions
The guillotine choke, or the Mae Hadaka Jime in judo, is the second most common submission in MMA/UFC history.
A guillotine can either be a blood or air choke depending on the variation used. It’s a blood choke when the forearm is pressed against the carotid artery on either side of the neck, and an air choke when the forearm pressures the windpipe.
The guillotine is the second most common submission in MMA because:
- Guillotines can be attempted from many positions, both advantageous and disadvantageous. Guillotines are great defense when being taken down via single/double leg takedowns, when mounted, in the clinch, and offensively when an opponent is hurt and/or in a poor position.
- Guillotines are easy to attempt and can be secured with one arm only if a fighter is strong enough.
- The arm-in guillotine gives a fighter control once they’ve been taken down, making it very effective against wrestlers (normal guillotine too).
- Can be an effective way to get an opponent to the ground via the guillotine or how it opens the opponent to being swept.
Guillotines were a lot more common in the first 15 years of the UFC, but have become less so in the second. This is because fighters have become much better at defending them, and failed guillotines can leave a fighter in a disadvantageous position or with loss of strength/fatigue in their arms.
Also, with the development of MMA, fights are going the distance a lot more often, and as fights last longer, fighters are sweating a lot which makes the guillotine choke a lot harder to secure because fighters can more easily slide their head out.
Because of this, guillotine chokes are often attempted after an opponent is hurt, but mostly they’re used defensively against an opponent shooting for a takedown or on top – and surprisingly they often finish the fight this way.
Some masters of the guillotine in the UFC are:
- Charles Oliveira – 5 guillotines in UFC
- Jon Jones – 4 guillotines in UFC
- Jim Miller – 3 guillotines in UFC
3. Armbar – 158 Submissions
The third most common submission in MMA/UFC history is the armbar, which originates from judo as the jūji-gatame. It’s much less frequently attempted and successful today, with most of the arm bar submissions coming in the first 15 years of the UFC.
However, armbars are the third most common submission in MMA because:
- They’re extremely hard to escape once they’re locked in as fighters are using their entire body against one isolated arm, so most fighters have to tap quickly or have their tendons, ligaments, and possible bones broken in the elbow joint.
- Easy to set up from the top position.
- The arm bar can be used both offensively and defensively. Offensively on top, they can finish the fight, and defensively from the bottom position they can win the fight but mostly they help to initiate a scramble to get back to the feet or get better positioning.
- Easy transition from a triangle choke.
Arm bars are executed by:
- From the mount position, grab the opponent’s arm and slide off to the side.
- With their arm in the middle, put one leg across the opponent’s chest and the other across the head/face to keep them in place and use their body as leverage.
- Push down with the legs, raise the hips, and pull down on the opponent’s arm.
Some masters of the armbar submission in the UFC are:
- Demetrious Johnson – 4 armbars in UFC
- Ronda Rousey – 3 armbars in UFC, 4 in Strikeforce (9 in career)
- Gerald Meerschaert – 3 armbars in UFC
- Royce Gracie – 3 armbars in UFC
- Gilbert Burns – 3 armbars in UFC
4. Arm Triangle Choke – 92 Submissions
Only number 4 on the list, the arm triangle choke is becoming more common in modern MMA because of its effectiveness, but it’s always been the go-to move for wrestlers because it’s best applied from mount and side control, positions they frequently find themself in.
The arm triangle choke is a blood choke squashing the opponent’s carotid arteries by forming a triangle with the submitter’s own arm and the opponent’s shoulder/arm.
The arm triangle choke is effective because:
- It can be applied on the ground in either side control or mount and also from the standing position.
- It’s one of the fastest submissions to make an opponent lose consciousness at around 7 seconds because of how it pressures the carotid arteries on both sides of the neck.
- The opportunity for the arm triangle choke is often presented when in top mount position as the opponent has to focus on defending ground-and-pound.
- It’s a sneaky submission which many fighters don’t know they’re in until it’s too late. Many fighters don’t expect an arm-triangle submission because the opponent often has to give up the mount position to finish it.
- It’s a high percentage and low-risk submission as it most often leaves the submitter in an advantageous position if it fails.
Some masters of the arm triangle choke in the UFC are:
- Islam Makhachev – 2 arm triangle chokes in UFC
- Cezar Ferreira – 2 arm triangle chokes in UFC
- Misha Cirkunov – 2 arm triangle chokes in UFC
- Maurice Green – 2 arm triangle chokes in UFC
5. Triangle Choke – 84 Submissions
The triangle choke, or sankaku-jime in judo, is a blood choke that uses the legs to trap the neck with one arm in and one arm out.
Triangle Chokes are very effective submissions in MMA because:
- The legs are extremely powerful so fighters can find it very hard to escape.
- The triangle choke is versatile as it can be used to win a fight from both the top and bottom positions. They’re commonly applied from an open or closed guard (bottom) position, but they can also be executed from back, mount, and side mount positions.
- Fighters can get too comfortable from the top position and leave themselves exposed while using ground-and-pound.
The triangle choke is mostly used by a fighter losing the fight and in a disadvantageous position on their back. The most famous triangle choke submission was secured by Anderson Silva in the 5th round of his middleweight title fight, where he’d lost the previous 4 rounds against Chael Sonnen.
Some masters of the triangle choke in the UFC are:
- Paul Craig – 4 triangle chokes in UFC (8 in career)
- Donald Cerrone – 3 triangle chokes in UFC (8 in career)
- Demien Maia – 2 triangle chokes in UFC
- Nate Diaz – 2 triangle chokes in UFC and 1 in TUF
6. D’Arce Choke – 37 Submissions
The D’Arce choke, or brabo choke, is a variation of the arm-triangle choke, different enough to go down as its own submission. It was named after Joe D’Arce, who continued successfully using the submission in Bjj competition.
The D’Arce is a blood choke as it pressures the side of the neck, and it’s executed by threading one arm under the opponent’s near arm, running across the front of their neck, and securing onto the bicep of the far arm which goes on top of the opponent’s other arm.
The D’Arce is best used by MMA fighters with long arms as they can more easily reach the bicep of their free arm to cinch up the choke.
The D’Arce choke is a common submission in MMA because:
- It’s less commonly attempted than other submissions which makes it sneaky, unexpected, and extremely hard to escape.
- The D’Arce can be attempted from many positions: standing clinch, on the ground, and as a counter to an underhook. It’s most commonly applied from the top half guard.
- The fighter who fails with a D’Arce submission attempt mostly ends up in the top position.
Some Masters of the D’Arce choke in the UFC are:
- Vicente Luque – 4 D’Arce chokes in UFC
- Tony Ferguson – 3 D’Arce chokes in UFC
7. Anaconda Choke – 26 Submissions
The anaconda choke is a variation of the arm triangle choke. It’s a blood choke executed by threading the arm under the opponent’s neck and armpit and grabbing the bicep on the free arm. Next, roll the opponent over (gator roll) so their trapped arm/shoulder is on the ground for more pressure.
Milton Vieira is credited with creating the anaconda choke which he used throughout his Bjj career and for three wins in his MMA career.
Of the 7 most common submissions, the anaconda choke is the hardest to execute, but it’s still the seventh most common submission in MMA because:
- It’s less commonly attempted than other submissions which makes it sneaky and unexpected.
- Can be locked in both standing and grounded.
- Extremely hard to escape because fighters are rolled onto their trapped arm and further tangled by the legs.
- Can be locked in defensively when sprawling to prevent a takedown and offensively when an opponent is in the turtle position.
Some masters of the anaconda choke in the UFC are:
- Makwan Amirkhani – 3 anaconda chokes in UFC (5 in career)
- Charles Oliveira – 2 anaconda chokes in UFC (3 in career)
- Phil Davis – 2 anaconda chokes in UFC
- Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira – back to back anaconda chokes in PRIDE
The Bottom Line
This has been a complete list of submissions in the UFC, and a closer look at the 7 most common submissions in MMA/UFC history.
The most common submissions in MMA are mostly blood chokes, which are fast at leaving opponents unconscious, can be attempted both offensively and defensively, don’t leave a fighter too vulnerable if the submission fails, or helps a fighter exit a disadvantageous position.