This post is part of a series of snapshots taken from the analyses of what is likely the only ever census of MMA fights (enuMMA17). Please see the table of contents for an up to date list of available instalments.

The Rear Naked Choke

That it's the Rear Naked Choke probably won't be a surprise. However that it accounts for 1/3 of all submission finishes was to us. In the classic hierarchy of positions Back Control is an anomaly. Typically each successively more dominant position is more difficult to acquire & maintain, as expected. Except for Back Control, arguably the most dominant position, but relatively accessible & easy to maintain as is evident in many a match.

fig 01: The Most Successful Submissions (1993 - 2017)

  • The top 5 subs account for 84% of all subs.
  • The top 10 subs account for 93.3% of all subs.
  • Chokes make up 66% of all subs.

The data preprocessing (always the toughest part) for this analysis was particularly challenging / interesting. How many ways do you think there are of misspelling Guillotine? In general we've stuck with the most commonly used version of the subs name.

After standardizing the names we ended up with 75 different subs. True some are variations of the major ones listed above like for e.g. Flying Armbar & Inverted Armbar. However these happen frequently enough to warrant their own category. Largely though they are subs in their own right & in the larger context roughly equally likely. You are just about as likely to see a Toe Hold, Smother, Leg Scissors Choke, Scarf Hold etc.

When Isn't a Sub a Sub?

4.5% of results officially listed as submissions are not for locks or chokes. Instead they are for retirement (didn't answer the bell), corner stoppages, injuries, fatigue & then my favourites:

  • 'No Apparent Reason' - 7x
  • 'Frustration' - only 4x
  • 'Terror' - thankfully only once...
  • These 'non-subs' where excluded from this analysis.

    Rare Submissions

    Amongst the rarest submissions we found some interesting ones:

    • Camel Clutch
    • Boston Crab
    • Half Crab
    • Soliev Stretch
    • Gogoplata from Mount
    • Gogoplata Armbar
    • Inverted Triangle Neck Crank
    • Mounted Crucifix
    • Standing Armbar

    In our next snapshot we'll delve deeper into submissions Looking at where submissions are targetted.

    - mec