Makwan Amirkhani, UFC 251

The Submissions of UFC 251

UFC 251 featured only two submission finishes. The first was Makwan Amirkhani’s first-round anaconda choke victory over Danny Henry. The second, Amanda Ribas’ armbar submission in round one over Paige VanZant. Let’s look at them, in the order they happened. 

Amirkhani started working that choke when Henry was turtled up. He first attempted an arm-in guillotine choke, which if you rewatch you will see both Henry’s head and arm are being compressed together. The thing about guillotine chokes is that while to folks at home it seems like the fighter attacking with the choke is just yanking on limbs, there’s more going on with the guillotine choke. Closing in all the space to make a choke like that successful has the choker almost needing to do a crunch while trying to squeeze and twist the head and arm to get the submission. It’s harder than it looks, which is why Amirkhani switched his palm-to-palm grip to the arm triangle, rear-naked choke type of grip changing his attack to the anaconda choke.

The anaconda choke is pretty much an arm triangle but from a more head-on position versus being side-to-side. What makes it more constricting is the way the person doing the choke wraps themselves around their opponent as Amirkhani did. Not only is he squeezing Henry’s head and arm for the choke, but his body is folding Henry’s head into his own chest, making it harder to breathe.

The thing about a clean choke is the person getting choke usually does not think they have been caught until they have passed out. We saw that with Henry and during the broadcast, Michael Bisping had said Henry told him his team had drilled escaping the position. Henry did not tap, because it seemed like his drilling was paying off until it didn’t. Take a look at Amirkhani’s work here:

The second submission from UFC 251 was Ribas’ win over VanZandt. Before getting into it, I have to say putting VanZandt against a grappler like Ribas was a bit of a mean matchmaking move for someone that openly said that was their last fight. VanZant has three losses by submission and Ribas has a black belt in both judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Still, when the clinch came VanZant seemed to know an arm was in jeopardy because when she was taken down she gripped her hands together for dear life, which was smart on her part. 

However, with the experience Ribas has in that area it only took one scramble attempt to improve her position from VanZant for Ribas to adjust her hips and trap VanZant’s arm for the finish. It was a tight armbar too that VanZant tried to roll out of but Ribas wasn’t having it. Check out the finish here:

There are levels to all parts of fighting. So, when it comes to the grappling aspect of mixed martial arts being able to impose the grappling part takes a special skill. Amirkhani and Ribas certainly showcased those skills at UFC 251, and submissions like knockouts are a work of art when pulled off successfully.

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Edward Carbajal
Edward holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Bachelor's degree in Communications. Along with over 30 years of martial arts experience, he co-hosts The Coast-2-Coast Combat Hour podcast, and also writes for Spectation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel