In a sport where the choke is the king of submissions, leg locks are a relatively rare occurrence. But an athlete with a mastery of these attacks can finish a rival in an instant.
This type of offense is fraught with danger as they are most often finished from underneath an opponent — and that is risky business in mixed martial arts.
However, with good control over an adversary’s legs and hips, the attacker can search for joint locks on the knee and ankle.
The heel hook is the clear favorite for ONE Championship’s top leg lock specialists, but there is a multitude of different ways to set up and execute them.
Here are the five best leg lock submission victories ever recorded on the global stage.
#1 Tonon Brings His Specialty To ONE
Garry Tonon moves to 5-0 in ONE Championship with a superb heel hook submission of Yoshiki Nakahara in the very first round!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, May 17, 2019
The heel hook was one of Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon’s calling cards in his run at the top of the submission grappling world, and he brought it to mixed martial arts when he met Yoshiki Nakahara at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in May 2019.
Tonon rushed in for a single-leg takedown on Nakahara, but quickly changed course to pull his rival into a leg entanglement. The Japanese athlete initially tried to rush away to escape, but he was impeded by the ropes, and by the time he turned into “The Lion Killer” to defend, it was as good as over.
The American isolated his opponent’s right leg and used his own right foot to stop Nakahara from getting in close to break his grips. He then wrenched on the outside heel hook to get the tap after just 55 seconds.
#2 Imanari’s 53-Second Win
Japanese legend Mazakazu Imanari rolls back the years with a sensational heel hook submission of Kwon Won Il at 0:53 of Round 1!Watch the full event on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, February 22, 2019
The Japanese legend used his patented “Imanari roll” to attach himself to the South Korean’s right leg, though he was not deep enough to attack for a finish initially.
However, the Tokyo native persisted and pulled Kwon’s lower limb further into his grasp. When his knee was far enough through, “Ashikan Judan” turned his attention to the foot, caught “Pretty Boy’s” heel, and torqued on the lightning-fast submission at the 53-second mark.
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#3 Silva’s Slick Kneebar
In the middle of a run that saw him submit three of the Catalan brothers in a row, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva tapped out Ruel Catalan with a slick kneebar at ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS in December 2015.
The Filipino escaped from Silva’s side control and found himself on top, but the Evolve representative quickly set to work from underneath. He latched on to his foe’s left leg from a deep half guard position, and then he took an underhook behind his knee.
As Catalan tried to punch his way to safety, Silva rolled, straightened out the leg, and applied a forceful straight kneebar to submit his Filipino adversary.
#4 Catalan Scores With The Heel Hook
Robin Catalan submits Adrian Mattheis with a heel hook at 2:10 of Round 2, kicking off ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS in style! Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, July 7, 2018
Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan used his powerful grappling game to subdue Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS in July 2018, before he eventually sealed a second-round finish via heel hook.
The Filipino dropped heavy ground and pound from inside Mattheis’ guard, and then took control of the Indonesian’s left leg and dropped back for his attack.
Catalan wrapped his right leg over the knee to secure his position and twisted on “Papua Badboy’s” heel to elicit the tap.
#5 Imanari Announces Himself To ONE
The Team Lakay product was well aware of “Ashikan Judan’s” reputation, but like many others, he was powerless to stop his frightening leg attacks. Imanari slipped off a kick attempt in the opening 30 seconds, but “The Silencer” made the fatal error of trying to follow him to the ground to strike.
The Japanese grappler immediately took control of his right leg, and then he shifted between outside heel hook and toe hold attacks. Belingon could not defend and hold his rival off forever, and “Ashikan Judan” finally got his bite on the heel with an inside heel hook to finish the match in 78 seconds.