There are only that many ways to claim victory inside the ONE Championship cage, but one of the most satisfying ways to assert technical superiority is to win by submission.
With so many of our heroes evolving their grappling techniques, a submission finish is always a distinct possibility, particularly in bouts that pitch athletes from different martial arts backgrounds against one another.
After an extensive look back through the year, we have compiled the very best submission finishes of 2017, and crowned the winner of our Submission of the Year.
WINNER: Alex Silva Against Hayato Suzuki
The strawweight battle between Alex Silva and Hayato Suzuki was widely expected to produce the next number one contender for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, with a decisive victory likely to propel the winner straight into a title shot.
During their clash at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, BJJ world champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva stepped up, and showed the world just why he is one of the most feared grapplers on the ONE Championship roster. He pulled off an incredible first-round armbar finish that left no doubt over the identity of the next challenger for the belt.
Suzuki went into the bout undefeated, and with a reputation as being one of the best grapplers in the division, but his first takedown attempt proved to be his last. He shot in on the Brazilian to take him to the mat, only for “Little Rock” to swiftly turn the tables and lock up a picture-perfect armbar, forcing the tap in just 82 seconds of the opening round.
Runner-Up: Angela Lee Against Istela Nunes
ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee was far from at her best when she stepped into the cage at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES in May. The Singapore star was suffering the effects of pneumonia and just one week before the main event was receiving treatment for her ailment.
Despite her issues, Lee passed her medicals and insisted she was fit enough to compete. She would eventually defeat two-time Muay Thai World Champion Istela Nunes with a slick anaconda choke to retain her world title.
Her performance earned plaudits from ONE Championship’s Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, who said: “Today, Angela Lee passed an impossible test on the journey of unleashing her greatness. Without a doubt, Angela is one of the greatest World Champions on Earth in any weight class – male or female. She is a true warrior who exemplifies the authentic spirit of martial arts.”
#3 Reece McLaren Against Anatpong Bunrad
Filipino-Australian Reece McLaren made the switch down to flyweight for his bout against Anatpong Bunrad, and impressed with an eye-catching display of grappling prowess, as he tapped out the Thai in the opening round of their tilt at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD.
The crucial bout-winning sequence began with a huge slam to the canvas, as McLaren thwarted Bunrad’s attempts to stand up and escape his clutches. Once he had his opponent back on the mat, “Lightning” got straight to work on a submission, initially pursuing an arm triangle choke. But with Bunrad looking to defend, the Australian quickly transitioned to a D’Arce choke, forcing the tap with just eight seconds remaining in the stanza.
It earned McLaren a hugely impressive win on his flyweight debut, and put the rest of the division on notice. After his statement victory over Bunrad, McLaren’s progress in his new weight class will be well worth following in 2018.
#4 Christian Lee Against Keanu Subba
Featherweight star Christian “The Warrior” Lee showcased his grappling skills to great acclaim at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS, as he scored a thrilling submission victory over fellow rising contender Keanu Subba in Malaysia.
The pair battled back and forth throughout the contest, with Lee coming close to submitting Subba in the dying seconds of the second round. But the local hero was able to hang on, and was saved by the bell.
Undeterred, Lee went back to his grappling in the third and final round, and went on an all-out attack. Eventually, he took Subba to the mat and locked up a triangle choke, only for Subba to show his determination by refusing to tap out.
When Lee switched targets and grabbed an armbar, the tap soon followed, as the Singaporean scored one of the most impressive finishes of his career — and one of the best submissions of 2017.
#5 Mei Yamaguchi Against Jenny Huang
Yamaguchi’s maiden ONE victory was completed via rear-naked choke, as she calmly worked her way to a bout-ending submission position. She landed some heavy ground and pound from the mount position before taking Huang’s back, where she locked up a the submission with a minute to go in the second round.
That victory kickstarted her run back towards a ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship rematch against Lee, and that highly-anticipated bout looks set to take place in 2018.