A new year is here, and that means it’s time for Combat Press to take a look back at the best of MMA in 2023. In the coming days, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
As with most years, 2023 did not disappoint with some fantastic MMA submission finishes. While there were some title-winning chokes, such as Jon Jones’ guillotine of Ciryl Gane for the vacant UFC heavyweight title, or Alexa Grasso’s rear-naked choke of Valentina Shevchenko for the long-held flyweight title, both of which happened on the same night, one submission stood out above the rest.
At Invicta FC 53 on May 3, Olga Rubin entered the cage as a slight underdog against Claire Guthrie, a former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 30. The showdown served as the co-main event at Reelworks in Denver, Colo., which is Guthrie’s home turf. Guthrie was on a four-fight fighting winning streak, which straddled her stint on TUF, and Rubin was back in the win column after dropping an Invicta bantamweight title bid the prior year to Taneisha Tennant.
In the first round, a lot of time was spent with Guthrie holding Rubin against the cage. After that round, two judges gave it to Guthrie, and one gave it to Rubin. Round 2 was much of the same, and with one minute left, Rubin attempted an unsuccessful trip, landing on her back with Guthrie on top. However, Rubin immediately started to set up a buggy choke, and Guthrie did not appear to realize what was happening. Once Guthrie realized what was going on, she tried to escape, but it was too late, and she was forced to tap.
Not only was Rubin’s buggy choke the first in Invicta history, but it was one of very few seen in the history of MMA, as it is an awkward position that requires a tremendous amount of leg flexibility. For this reason, Rubin wins the Combat Press 2023 MMA Award for Submission of the Year.
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