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The Question: What Is the Greatest Submission in MMA History?


No one knew what to expect when eight men entered the UFC Octagon for the first time on November 12, 1993. That, of course, was the beauty of the experiment. 

Everyone had heard of sumo, watched boxing and seen karate dojos pop up in strip malls all across America. We had an idea, we thought, about what fighting might look like, based mainly on movie fight scenes.

We had no idea what we were in for. 

Royce Gracie and Brazilian jiu-jitsu revolutionized martial arts. But it was his rival, Ken Shamrock, who first opened fans' eyes to what was possible.

Gracie had earned the first televised submission from poor Art Jimmerson, a boxer who tapped out at the mere idea of a dangerous hold. Shamrock provided a crystal clear realization that the threat was not just real, but potentially crippling.

The first victim of a submission lock in modern MMA history was Pat Smith. A kickboxer with an absurd record of 250-0, Smith bragged to the camera before his fight that he had "a resistance of feeling pain." 

Shamrock would soon prove that a lie.

He clinched at the first opportunity, took Smith to the ground and patiently waited for his opportunity. Shamrock, already a veteran of the submission fighting scene in Japan, was a master of leglocks. Smith didn't think they hurt. He was wrong.

As Shamrock looked to secure an ankle lock, Smith fought back viciously, with elbows to the shin and axe kicks. But as Shamrock shifted to a heel hook, all semblance of fight disappeared. Smith collapsed back on the mat, furiously tapping the mat and screaming in pain.

Live in the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, no one was sure what exactly had happened. It was the first shot in the war for the future of martial arts. Padded records and dojo glory wasn't going to be nearly enough in the UFC era. 

—Jonathan Snowden 

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