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BJJ Fanatics Instructionals

UFC’s Submission Game by the Numbers 2018

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One of the most fun exercises BJJ Heroes likes to engage in at the end of every year is that of analyzing the available data and deciphering how grappling is evolving in modern day combat sports, be it in submission grappling, BJJ or mixed martial arts (MMA). For MMA in particular, 2018 was a tremendous year, giving us the crowning of lightweight star Khabib Nurmagomedov and double champ Daniel Cormier, two outstanding grapplers who have raised the wrestling + sambo flag high.

Once ruled by jiu-jitsu practitioners, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) octagon now has a much wider variety of martial artists on its roster, with a full spectrum of combat styles displayed during the 474 bouts fought this year under the famous fighting promotion.

Although with a slight increase in numbers of matches from the previous 3 years, statistically, the winning trends remain “virtually identical” throughout the aforementioned 3 year period, proving that grappling – although still an integral part of MMA, no longer rules the sport.

UFC 2018 Match Ending Methods
– DQ 1 (0.2%)
– Draw 2 (0.4%)
– KO 57 (12%)
– Subs 89 (18%)
– TKO 92 (19%)
– Decision 233 (49%)

As jiu-jitsu and submission grappling is the focus of BJJ Heroes, we have dug a little deeper into the numbers of the UFC’s submission holds. Within this area of expertise, the lighter weights seem to certainly have the upper-hand over the heavier weight classes, with the bulk of submission wins (46) coming from the bantam-welterweight divisions. This means that nearly 52% of octagon submissions came from 4 weight classes out of the 13 currently running with the UFC.

UFC Submission Wins by Division Chart
The fact that 52% of submissions came from 30% of the divisions available has likely come down to the high level of grappling available in these weight classes. Unsurprisingly, the top submission finishers of 2018 in the UFC all came from one of those divisions.

Best Submission Finishers of 2018 (UFC)
– Charles Oliveira: 3 subs
– Davi Ramos: 2 subs
– Manny Bermudez: 2 subs
– Rani Yahya: 2 subs
– Renato Moicano: 2 subs


Observing our sports biggest events over the past 8 years has given BJJ Heroes very definitive insight on how BJJ is evolving. In MMA, through the UFC we have also observed very consistent numbers over the years, with grappling in MMA trends being, somewhat surprisingly, even more, consistent in data than that taken from our standard BJJ tournaments.

Unequivocally, choking from a back control is very much the king of submissions, be it in IBJJF, ADCC, UAEJJF… Or the UFC. The report here shown could prove that Jiu Jitsu’s old dogma of “Position over Submission” still holds very true in mixed martial arts, where the majority of taps were accomplished from superior carefully advanced positioning maneuvers. This same trend has been verified by our previous studies of octagon finishes.

UFC Wins by Submission Type
Currently jiu-jitsu’s biggest fad, the heel-hook was one of the lowest percentage submissions of 2018, with only two successful finishes. These 2 match ending HH’s do show an increase when compared to previous years as there had only been 2 finishes accomplished with this maneuver since 2014. A total of 4 heel hooks in 4 years and over 1600 official UFC matches.


How important is it to get ahead first and how much does sweat/slipperiness affect a grapplers chances of submitting an opponent? According to 2018 data, these factors do matter a lot with the overwhelming majority of successful submission finishes coming from the first 2 rounds (1st round in particular).

– Round 1, 47 submissions
– Round 2, 30 submissions
– Round 3, 11 submissions
– Round 4, 1 submissions
– Round 5, 0 submissions

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations

One Comment

  • Saif says:


    The UFC-Secrets website is publishing 91 finishes for 2018 whereas your site is reporting 89 when Google searching “Total submissions UFC”

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