What was the best submission in '10?

Originally Published: December 21, 2010
ESPN.com

WerdumJon Kopaloff/Getty Images'Dum and gloom: Fabricio Werdum needed only 69 seconds to submit Fedor Emelianenko.

There's a school of thought that dismisses grappling and submissions as being less entertaining than striking. Yet the ground game is the aspect of MMA that most distinguishes itself from other combat sports and, it could be argued, is it's most intriguing.

Several of the biggest fights of the year were concluded with some manner of joint lock or choke. The triangle is a tried-and-true weapon in MMA -- not flashy but ceaselessly effective -- and it put Anderson Silva, Fabricio Werdum and Chris Leben on the list.

The Brazilians uncoiled their locks with drama -- Silva pulling it out late against Chael Sonnen, and Werdum hanging a defeat on Fedor Emelianenko for the first time in nearly a decade.

Others weren't as significant, yet their application was unique. Cole Miller used a variation of a triangle to hyperextend Dan Lauzon's left shoulder. And Phil Davis nearly tore Tim Boetsch's arm off with what is basically a police move.

There were many great submission this year, but these stand out.

Jon Anik: Fabricio Werdum triangle choke with armbar on Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce, June 26, 2010) -- It probably doesn't need an explanation. Fedor Emelianenko is universally regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Werdum became the first man to hand him a legitimate loss. That's gotta be worthy of submission of the year.

Josh Gross: Anderson Silva's triangle choke with armbar on Chael Sonnen (UFC 117, Aug. 7, 2010) -- Down big on the cards heading into the fifth round, Silva showed his greatness by pulling a triangle choke on Sonnen -- something he promised his teammates he would do in the weeks leading up to the UFC middleweight championship fight.

Franklin McNeil: Werdum's submission of Emelianenko -- Werdum submitted Fedor in the first round. It was Fedor's first loss in nine years. End of discussion.

Chuck Mindenhall: Silva's submission of Sonnen -- What happens if Sonnen plays it safe in the fifth? Eh, regrets hang on in this business for a long time. Forget that it happened in 2010 -- that triangle armbar will play out in super-slow motion well into Sonnen's rocking chair days.

Darius Ortiz: Silva's submission of Sonnen -- If the layman's idea of a bad dream is delivering a speech without his trousers, then Silva-Sonnen is what a fighter's nightmare looks like -- four-and-a-half rounds of capsizing work, all for naught in the end. Not the most creative submission, but with Silva's legacy on the line, definitely the most significant.

Brett Okamoto: Silva's submission of Sonnen -- To get beat up the way Silva did for as long as he did and still have the composure and awareness to tap a guy like Sonnen was absolutely amazing to watch.

Jake Rossen: Werdum's submission of Emelianenko -- Werdum's submission forced the world's consensus-best fighter to submit in 69 seconds.

Jon Anik is the host of "MMA Live." Follow him on Twitter at Jon_Anik.

Josh Gross covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at JoshGrossESPN.

Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at Franklin_McNeil.

Chuck Mindenhall is a features writer at FIGHT! magazine and can be followed on Twitter at ChuckMindenhall.

Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.

Darius Ortiz is the boxing and MMA editor for ESPN.com.

Jake Rossen covers MMA for Sherdog.com.