The 2020 Heavies Awards - Best Submission of the Year - Winner AJ McKee

Discussion in 'Forum Awards Archive' started by Zebra Cheeks, Dec 30, 2020.

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What was the best submission of 2020?

Poll closed Jan 10, 2021.
  1. Thiago Moises Vs Michael Johnson

    2.3%
  2. Mackenzie Dern Vs Hannah Cifers

    7.5%
  3. Kay Hansen Vs Jin Yu Frey

    2.3%
  4. Jimmy Flick Vs Cody Durden

    30.6%
  5. AJ McKee Vs Darion Caldwell

    49.1%
  6. Vanessa Demopoulos Vs Sam Hughes

    8.3%
  1. TheMMAnalyst Purple Belt

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    I still think it's Khabib over those and will make my argument below:

    First - this is nothing like Conor KO'ing Cowboy getting KO of the year:

    Conor was fed Cowboy for highlight reel (slow-starter on the decline in twilight of his career against lightning fast blitz striker). It wasn't a championship level fight against elite competition that most people claim has the style to break you and just beat down your toughest opponent ever.

    For me Submission of the Year should be determined by 3 things:

    1. Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission (10 points)

    The more complex the move + the rarity of it should factor in to things. Yes, a kneebar is cool, but if the set-up is your opponent sticks there leg in between yours and has poor sub defense it's more of a testament to your opponents crappy defense then your god-like submission skills.

    2. Level of Competition (10 points)

    How good was your opponent? Submitting Big Nog should mean more than submitting Hannah Ciffers.

    3. Gravity of the Situation (10 points)

    What's the stakes - Title fight? Main Event? Tournament Semi-Final? Main Prelim? UFC Debut? On a 3-Fight Losing Streak? There's a reason BJ Penn subbing Matt Hughes with an RNC or Matt Hughes hitting an RNC on Frank Trigger are considered to be some of the greatest submissions of all-time (level of competition + gravity of the situation).

    Let's do a full breakdown with all the nominees + my pick (Khabib). To be fair I think McKee vs. Caldwell is worthy to win as well, I don't think the others come close except for Vanessa:

    Thiago Moises Vs Michael Johnson

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 7

    We never see straight ankle-locks so this was cool to see and a nice transition to go belly-down and force the tap with no escape

    Level of Competition = 5

    Michael Johnson is great action fighter but is notorious for winning the first round and then getting caught in ridiculous submissions (could go through the list but there are a lot of them).

    Gravity of the Situation = 5

    Moises making his debut, so definitely didn't want to get styled on but it wasn't like his career was on the line or this was a PPV fight.

    TOTAL SCORE = 17

    Mackenzie Dern Vs Hannah Cifers

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 7

    We rarely see kneebars by women, so it was cool to see - that being said the set-up was non-existent, opponent stuck leg in between her leg from standing guard and left it there. She's a world class BJJ fighter, it would be insulting if she didn't go for a leg attack there.

    Level of Competition (10 points) = 3

    Hannah Ciffers is not a high-level fight and should be easily subbed by Dean...it is what it is.

    Gravity of the Situation (10 points) = 3

    Low-level WMMA fight? Seemed like a showcase for Dern, they knew she'd highlight sub Ciffers and she did...cool story bro.

    TOTAL SCORE = 16

    Kay Hansen Vs Jin Yu Frey

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 7

    Super-cool armbar transition, but you rarely see someone get tapped with no leg over the face.

    Level of Competition = 5

    Based on the how Frey understood the position and seemed to pause for multiple seconds before tapping I can't call her an elite ground fighter, seemed like she was caught in a position she was unfamiliar with (which is insane, as this position happens in standard BJJ rolling all the time).

    Gravity of the Situation = 6


    UFC Debut for both, with some hype behind Frey - definitely not an easy fight for either fighter and a chance to make a good impression, but not paramount to career-determining/ending or showcase level.

    TOTAL SCORE = 18

    Jimmy Flick Vs Cody Durden

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 10

    I'll go ahead and give Jimmy a 10 here - I can hate on the fact that it wasn't a true flying triangle, he actually threw a head-kick that his opponent ate + caught, and he used his opponents idiocy (pinning his leg against his head, thereby triangling himself) to set-up the submission.

    No matter how you look at it though it's super-legit, the execution and understanding of what to do were exceptional and flawlessly executed....I wanted to give a 9 but really that's hating to take a point here.

    Level of Competition (10 points) = 5


    Can't see any high-level grappler ever getting caught in this, it just shows inexperience mostly (maybe bad luck since he ate a head-kick prior and might've been stunned).

    Gravity of the Situation (10 points) = 5

    UFC debut for FLICK and Durden coming off a disappointing draw; Flick had some heat from his LFA + Contender fights so there was definitely a little heat on this one.

    Total Score = 20

    AJ McKee Vs Darion Caldwell

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 9

    It's more unique then difficult, but his ability to understand the position, force Caldwell to collapse space by throwing elbows from guard, and then seamlessly making adjustments throughout (gable-grip to figure-four switching from body-triangle to full-guard) were flawless. Never seen this before in an MMA fight!

    Level of Competition (10 points) = 8

    Caldwell is a super-legit grappler; he's more of a wrestler than grappler, so has occasionally been subbed before from doing stupid shit with his head (Joe Taimonglo + the Gooch), so can't be shocked entirely....still a tough guy to submit without a doubt.

    Gravity of the Situation (10 points) = 8

    Tournament Semi-Final for Bellator FW tourney - HUGE showcase main event on CBS Sports, chance to get that title fight against Pitbull and become a real star for Bellator. For this division the stakes rarely get higher, but it could've been the final or a title fight so will go with 8.

    TOTAL SCORE = 25

    Vanessa Demopoulos Vs Sam Hughes

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission = 10

    Super rare and difficult to pull off, there is no doubt that finishing your opponent by putting them asleep with an inverted triangle deserves a 10 for this part of the ranking.

    Level of Competition = 5

    Getting inverted triangle is like getting flying triangled - it just really shouldn't happen unless you are badly hurt or don't know what's going on. Sam Hughes is a decent fighter but this is WMMA so it's tough to know how good she is. From what I've seen she is competent but not exceptional as a fighter.

    Gravity of the Situation = 8

    I don't want to give this a 10 because it's not a UFC title fight or main event; that being said it was still a main event + title fight for Invicta that would give the winner a great chance to go to the UFC, so a lot was on the line here.

    TOTAL SCORE = 23

    Khabib vs. Gaethje

    Uniqueness+Difficulty of Submission (10 points) = 8

    Sure it was a triangle, but it was a mounted triangle-armbar; on-top of that he didn't just catch it from guard, it went: reactive takedown off leg-kick, back take with both hooks, full mount, fake arm-triangle, mounted triangle-armbar pull-back while hooking the leg. All in under 20 seconds, leaving opponent snoring.

    Not the most unique for the finish, but the transition+set-ups made it exceptional.

    Level of Competition (10 points) = 8

    I don't want to be a jock-sniffer; JG is a hell of a fighter and I love watching him fight, but from watching his WSOF fights a lot of people (myself included) knew he had a weakness if he could get taken down he was at risk of giving up positions (as Brian Cobb I believe hit mount + full back control for 4+ minutes in one of their fights).

    JG is an amazing fighter + wrestler, but he's not an elite grappler - his game has always been anti-grappling (use wrestling to stay standing and beat you to death). Never been subbed prior and is rarely taken down so we can't say he's a terrible grappler and we know he's a legit wrestler - he's an elite fighter with great wrestling and a weakness in submission grappling (positional understanding + leaving openings to attack).

    You could go a little lower here but I feel his track record warrants a higher-score; unless we see him get submitted by someone that isn't elite (don't see that ever happening) he deserves an elite score.

    Gravity of the Situation = 10

    No bigger fight stakes - UFC Title Fight against Interim Title-Holder that everyone claims is worst match-up (powerful striker with crippling leg-kicks and incredible scrambling abilities), coming off death of father, mumps, broken toe, etc. 28-0 on the line, legacy on the line, EVERYTHING on the line.

    TOTAL SCORE = 26

    *********************

    FINAL RANKINGS
    1. Khabib vs. Gaethje (26)
    2. AJ McKee Vs Darion Caldwell (25)
    3. Vanessa Demopoulos Vs Sam Hughes (23)
    4. Jimmy Flick Vs Cody Durden (20)
    5. Kay Hansen Vs Jin Yu Frey (18)
    6. Thiago Moises Vs Michael Johnson (17)
    7. Mackenzie Dern Vs Hannah Cifers (16)
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
  2. Zebra Cheeks Sweet Cheeks Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    See, I would say the complexity and technique of the sub is worth 20 pts, and the other categories are worth 10. I’d also say that you’re underrating the McKee technique and over rating the khabib technique.

    I also think in multiple fights you likely didn’t watch the fight or you would understand the gravity of the situation more
     
  3. TheMMAnalyst Purple Belt

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    I can't say you are wrong to say the complexity + technique is worth more - this is all opinion, and you are entitled to yours, mine isn't valid in and of itself.

    That being said, I think I made a fairly well-articulated argument supporting my position - I could down-grade Khabib's sub to only a 7 and make McKee's a 10....I gave McKee a 9, which you think is underrating (ok I didn't give him a 10, just a 9 and higher than Khabib lol). As I said in the beginning I thought either Khabib or McKee were worthy winners.

    I also did watch every single fight, some on that list multiple times. Don't understand what you mean by "the gravity of the situation" as I explained in each fight EXACTLY what the gravity of the situation is.

    Not even saying you are wrong, just your counter-arguments are pretty shallow (mistakenly assuming I haven't watched these fights after the long-ass post I made + your main bone to pick is I didn't give McKee a 10 for complexity/technique and only gave a 9).

    FYI - If I used your scoring system then McKee would be the winner, so we don't even really disagree. I could be convinced that complexity/uniqueness of submission should be worth double, but you don't even make an argument, just a statement...
     
  4. Zebra Cheeks Sweet Cheeks Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    My comment about the gravity of the situation was that you gave the Moises sub a 5 for “gravity of the situation”. He was out struck 30 something to just a couple of sig strikes in the first round. You seem to only be scoring “gravity of the situation” on outside of the ring factors and not inside. I’d argue while there’s pressure in khabib, he was in a dominant position and controlling his fight beginning to end, making the sub in itself less impress and less necessary for him to win the fight. When we talk about the greatest subs and submission specialists in mma we talk about situations where fighters are up against impossible odds and snatch victory away with a creative and decisive technique. That’s not what khabib did. The second he got mounted the fight was already over.

    Yeah I get it man. I do think we mostly agree. I think you breaking it down like that articulated in a very clear way why some people have had different opinions. I listened to a podcast where they talked about this very argument with a panel of journalists. The consensus was more in line with what I listed for my own criteria. “Sub of the year” is usually a technique thats innovative, different, special.

    But again, it’s up to you who you vote for, except that Khabibs not on the poll. And I admit in hindsight I probably should have included him. At this point it won’t really fairly reflect it, so it is what it is I guess.


    The bright side in all of this is we’ve had some excellent conversations on how to evaluate these “of the year” awards. And you almost never see this level of conversation or engagement about sub of the year, so that is very valuable as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
  5. H41ph_84k3d Blue Belt

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    Had to go with Moises vs Johnson based on quality of opponent. Otherwise it should be Khabib. The flying triangle was hella cool as well. :cool:
     
  6. TheMMAnalyst Purple Belt

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    Thank you for explaining what you meant by "Gravity of the Situation" - you are correct, I did not take into account what was happening during the fight.

    The reason I did this was it's almost a separate way to look at things - should Moises get a 10 for "gravity" because he was getting his ass-kicked by a non-elite fighter but hit a comeback sub? And that's somehow more impressive than submitting someone whose never been submitted before in a legendary title fight with all the chips on the table (a prelim fight vs. a title fight unification)?

    I totally get what you are saying in regards to comeback-subs being inherently more dramatic, but I don't think that itself lends to the "gravity" of the situation - a fights a fight and before it starts no one knows how it's going to go. I personally think it's far more impressive to dominate and submit someone then it is to get beatdown and submit them (in one instance you without a doubt proved you were the better fighter, in the other you theoretically just made a mistake in a fight you were dominating and got caught).

    It's odd because I think you would agree with me (where if I ignore the Khabib sub) that the McKee-uilltoine was the Submission of the Year - it was a submission hit one minute into a fight where McKee looked like he was in complete control on his back. In the UFC the Moises sub is the only nominee that was a comeback, the Vanessa one in Invicta being the other. I personally think comeback submissions are over-rated for value (they add incredible drama but it doesn't make the submission better that you were losing before you hit it; that just adds to the "gravity" of the situation in the context you put it in, which is almost impossible to rank or determine in any metric).;

    I mean Leonard Garcia got Twistered by Korean Zombie = Submission of the Year & Zombie was absolutely OWNING Garcia in that fight and on the mat prior to the sub, but it didn't really make it any less impressive to anyone it would seem.

    I appreciate the detailed response in explaining your position though and I don't think you are wrong - uniqueness/difficulty of technique could in theory be the most valuable thing to assess. I chose to equally weight them with difficulty of opponent and "gravity" because to me the technique is only as impressive as who you hit it on and in what situation (but obviously that's my own personal bias seeping over).

    Def a lot of great stuff to discuss in this thread - good looking out Sherbro

    <RomeroSalute>
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
  7. Redfish Brown Belt

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    surprised no love for Khabib's triangle choke on Gaethje. That whole sequence was sublime, and the switch from armbar to triangle for the stated reasons was just gravy.
     
  8. RoyalTS Green Belt

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    Sherdog never change! Submission of the year is a neck crank and Conor tapping to one is getting laughed at the same time constantly ...
     

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