The highly unofficial half-year awards season continues with the best submissions of the first half of 2023 and how we saw them on fight night…
5 - Davey Grant Submits Raphael Assuncao
UFC Fight Night: Yan vs Dvalishvili
Davey Grant snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday night, choking out Raphael Assunção in the final seconds of the third round.
Assuncao fought a smart, technical fight through the first two rounds, but Grant came out attacking and looking to finish in the second. He had Assuncao hurt multiple times, but the fight shifted following a stoppage and point deduction late in the round.
Referee Keith Peterson took a point from Grant for repeated fence grabs, but rather than restarting them on the ground, they resumed on the feet, and Grant made the most of it, hurting Assuncao before locking up a reverse triangle choke to secure the finish.
This was a wild comeback for the ever-dangerous Brit, who made the most of this short-notice opportunity to pick up a second straight win. Assuncao took off his gloves and left them in the center of the cage following the contest, signaling the end of his career, with the Brazilian walking away with a 29-9 record overall.
4 - Erin Blanchfield Submits Jessica Andrade
UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs Blanchfield
Erin Blanchfield is officially in the title mix in the flyweight division after submitting Jessica Andrade early in the second round of Saturday’s main event.
The surging prospect caught the former strawweight champion and perennial contender by trading with her early, happily staying in the pocket with Andrade for much of the opening frame. Both women landed big shots over the first five minutes, while Andrade did well to defend Blanchfield’s takedown attempts.
In the second, the New Jersey native hit a lovely trip, jumped into side control, and quickly climbed onto Andrade’s back, sinking in the rear-naked choke with crazy precision, securing the tap almost immediately.
Just an absolutely outstanding effort from the 23-year-old standout, who is now 5-0 in the UFC and called for a meeting with the winner of the UFC 285 title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso.
3 - Yair Rodriguez Submits Josh Emmett
UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski
Yair Rodriguez is your interim UFC featherweight champion!
Nine years after making his promotional debut and after years of being forecasted to wear championship gold, “El Pantera” put together his most impressive performance to date in the biggest moment of his career.
The 30-year-old Mexican standout took the fight to Josh Emmett in the opening stanza, battering the Team Alpha Male representative with punishing body kicks and clean, varied strikes. While Emmett dropped Rodriguez with a power shot towards the end of the first, Rodriguez defended well and worked back to his feet.
He hurt Emmett early in the second, picking his spots and bashing home powerful blows before connecting with a flying knee that sent Vaseline flying off Emmett’s head. Though the American contender used it to put Rodriguez on the canvas, the dynamic athlete from Chihuahua used it to set up and lock up a triangle choke, forcing Emmett to tap.
This was an incredible performance from Rodriguez — a stylish, punishing, impressive effort from a fighter that was long expected to be in this position. It’s an outstanding victory, and now Rodriguez will wait to see what transpires in the main event in order to see what comes next.
2 - Jon Jones Submits Ciryl Gane
UFC 285: Jones vs Gane
Jon Jones is the new undisputed UFC heavyweight champion of the world, and it didn’t take long for him to get there.
“Bones” took Ciryl Gane down just over a minute into the contest, and the French heavyweight was never able to get back to his feet. Jones climbed into a mounted position and started fishing for a guillotine choke, and after “Bon Gamin” fended off the first attack, he locked in the second attempt, drawing out a quick tap from Gane.
After three years away, Jones needed less than a round to claim the heavyweight throne. In the process, he pushes his record to 27-1 with one No Contest, extending his winning streak to five. This was an absolutely dominant effort from the 35-year-old, who continues to be one of the most incredible talents to ever step into the Octagon.
1 - Alexa Grasso Submits Valentina Shevchenko
UFC 285: Jones vs Gane
Alexa Grasso is the new UFC flyweight champion!
The Mexican challenger took full advantage of a tactical mistake by Valentina Shevchenko in the fourth round to secure the rear-naked choke finish.
This was an ultra-competitive fight the whole way through, with Grasso surprising Shevchenko in the first by fighting from a southpaw stance. While the champion turned to her grappling to build a lead heading into the championship rounds, Grasso remained focused and continued to make the most of her opportunities.
When Shevchenko missed a spinning back kick, Grasso instantly climbed onto her back and attacked the choke, getting her hooks in, flattening her out, and eventually drawing out the tap.
This was an incredible performance from Grasso, who became the third fighter from Mexico to claim championship gold this year, joining Brandon Moreno and Yair Rodriguez. Just an amazing effort from the new champion!