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Watch: A Reflection On Frank Mir & The Greatest Submission In UFC History

Ahead of his Bellator 198 meeting with the legendary Fedor Emelianenko tonight, relive Frank Mir’s brutal kimura of Minotauro Nogueira, a sub that could well be considered the greatest in the history of the sport.

Context is everything when you consider a particularly memorable finish in combat sports and when picking out the truly legendary wins in any given era of mixed martial arts, the technical prowess balances with all other measurements of context to allow you place a certain knockout or submission within that upper-tier.

Edson Barboza’s stunning wheel-kick KO of Terry Etim is a solid example. Technically, it may well be the most amazing instance of kicking brilliance we have ever seen inside the octagon but when you factor in that Etim wasn’t exactly setting the lightweight division on fire and that the fight was a three-round main-card opener, it does lower the stakes somewhat – which, depending on who you ask – affects its placement in an argument looking to single out the greatest KO of all-time.

On the other side of things, look to Miesha Tate’s UFC 196 submission of Holly Holm as a win where the context was just as important – if not more important than the technical proficiency on display.

Holly Holm was on top of the world, fresh off of her unbelievable head-kick victory over the seemingly unstoppable Ronda Rousey and all things considered, looking well on her own way to at least a taste of superstardom.

And for four-rounds, things were going relatively smoothly for the Preacher’s Daughter. Ahead on the scorecards coming into round-five, she was able to keep Tate at bay with her polished kickboxing pretty successfully until the unthinkable happened. Down on the cards, nullified in the fight and outmatched on the feet, Miesha caught a hold of Holly’s neck and in a display of complete and utter determination, choked her unconscious in the dying embers of the fight.

She won her first UFC title in the most stunning of fashions and while the submission itself was pretty impressive, the context was everything.

Frank Mir returns this weekend to face off against the former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko in the latest offering from the Bellator heavyweight grand-prix and while both men are definitely past their prime, the contest is still an intriguing bout.

Mir, who has been one of the game’s finest submission threats, in my opinion found the perfect balance between technique and context in his 2011 submission of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and as a result, is the proud owner of the finest sub in MMA history.

It really shouldn’t have happened. You don’t just submit Minotauro Nogueira. In fact, before he had met Frank Mir, he hadn’t even been finished – something that changed after the Americn was able to KO and then submit him.

Highly-respected as a BJJ black-belt, Nogueira was given the grappling advantage over Mir when the fight was booked in the eyes of most but it was on the feet that he first made his dominance clear, tagging his opponent clean on the chin – something that wobbled him enough that Minotauro could pick up a dominant position on the ground.

He could have finished the fight with strikes but as the popular coach Rener Gracie pointed out in his breakdown of the sub, the Brazilian could not contain himself and attempted to set up the gullotine.

It was a fair move. He was one of the all-time greats on the mat so why not?

Mir, out of nowhere, cleared the cobwebs, rolled with the submission attempt and somehow managed to end up on top and lock in a kimura. It was a show of ridiculous recoverability and determination and if he had reclaimed position and left it at that, it would have been pretty astounding in its own right.

But no. He cranked that arm to the extent that would have forced any man to tap and yet Minotauro would not. Pride came into play and while he was already beat, Frank Mir snapped the arm of Nogueira and the greatest submission in UFC history was witnessed.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at