(“It’s called an ‘illusion’, okay? A ‘trick’ is something a whore does for money.”)
Leading up to her Strikeforce title fight against Miesha Tate on Saturday, Ronda Rousey bristled at the suggestion that she was a “one-trick pony” simply because she had finished all four of her professional MMA fights — and her two amateur fights before that — by armbar. Then, Rousey finished Tate by armbar anyway.
But being a one-trick pony shouldn’t be a derogatory term in MMA. If you’re so good at your specialized technique that you can finish top-flight opponents with it, even though they know it’s coming, then you should be applauded, not criticized. So let’s pay tribute to the seven greatest one-trickers in mixed martial arts. If we’ve left out any good ones, please let us know in the comments section.
Trick: The armbar
Finishing percentage via that trick: 100% (5 armbar wins in 5 pro fights)
Does she have a nickname based on that trick?: No
How long can Ronda’s perfect armbar streak last? Unlike some of the other names on this list, “Rowdy” has proven that she can land her technique-of-choice against the elite of her division. Rousey faces former Strikeforce 135-pound champion Sarah Kaufman next, and it might be a good sign that Kaufman’s sole career loss — against Marloes Coenen in 2010 — came via armbar.
Trick: The armbar
Finishing percentage via that trick: 72.2% (13 armbar wins in 18 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: Yes, “The Arm Collector”
Carrying an overall record of 17-1, Givanildo Santana has torqued elbow-joints all over the world. Santana picked up his 13th armbar win during his Bellator debut in October, and is a dark horse to sweep the promotion’s upcoming middleweight tournament.
Trick: The guillotine choke
Finishing percentage via that trick: 71.4% (10 guillotine choke wins in 14 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: No, although his guillotine choke variation has been dubbed “The McKenzietine.”
McKenzie punched his ticket to a spot on TUF 12 by racking up nine first-round guillotine chokes in a row while competing for small promotions in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, his last two fights in the UFC have resulted in rear-naked choke losses. If Cody doesn’t rediscover the Power of the McKenzietine against Aaron Riley in May, he could be heading back to the minors.
Trick: The triangle choke
Finishing percentage via that trick: 58.3% (7 triangle choke wins in 12 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: Yes, “Sassangle.” Pretty awful, huh.
With three wins by heel-hook — including his first-round finish of Michael Johnson in October — Sass is technically a two-trick pony. But the British grappling phenom made his name with the triangle choke, and he’ll be looking to slap it on Jacob Volkmann when they meet up at UFC 146.
Trick: The triangle choke
Finishing percentage via that trick: 38.6% (22 triangle choke wins in 57 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: Yes, “The Triangular Strangler”
Pearson isn’t a household name, but he’s been knocking around the regional leagues for the better part of a decade, and is still catching opponents with that triangle. Unlike the other fighters on this list, Pearson has lost fights by his favorite submission hold, too, and has been triangular-strangled by Miguel Torres and Erik Koch, among others.
Trick: The heel-hook
Finishing percentage via that trick: 35.3% (6 heel-hook wins in 17 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: No. But he does have his own hilarious Internet meme.
Rousimar Palhares is the Ronda Rousey of ankles. In March 2010, the half-feral middleweight was hit with a 90-day suspension, simply for pursuing his passions. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Palhares will be scaring the shit out of Alan Belcher at UFC on FOX 3 in May.
Trick: Leg locks (various)
Finishing percentage via that trick: 25% (9 leg-lock wins in 36 pro fights)
Does he have a nickname based on that trick?: Yes, “Ashikan Judan,” or “Master of Leglocks”
Shinya Aoki’s sex-coach has also ended five fights by armbar, but he’ll always be regarded as one of MMA’s original leg-lock specialists due to the sheer aggression with which he goes for subs below the belt, scrambling and transitioning until he gets the tap. Mike Brown, Jorge Gurgel, and Yoshiro Maeda are just a few of the fighters who found out the hard way that Imanari is a die-hard leg-freak. The Ashikan Judan returns to action at ONE Fighting Championship 3 on March 31st, where he’ll face undefeated Filipino prospect Kevin Belingon.