The “twister” is mentioned sometimes in MMA but almost never seen in the UFC.
There are lots of exclusive clubs in MMA, and many of them require reaching the top of a division. Few can say they became a pound-for-pound fighter, or a two-division champion, or even just a titleholder in a major promotion. But one of the sport’s most exclusive clubs takes just a few slick moments on the ground to join – and Saturday saw one more fighter join the ranks.
Bantamweight Da’Mon Blackshear scored the rare twister submission as part of this weekend’s prelims from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. He picked up his second consecutive win in the promotion with his performance, tapping out Jose Johnson in the fourth minute of their matchup.
Twister ended dominant performance
It was clear early on that Blackshear wanted to showcase his grappling skills against Johnson. Less than a minute into the fight, Blackshear took Johnson down. Blackshear got Johnson down again in the third minute, taking his back that time. It was there that he opted for the twister, instead of trying to secure the sixth rear naked choke win in his career.
After working for the right position for around 30 seconds, Blackshear received a tap from Johnson, causing the fight to end. The fight was a straightforward performance for Blackshear with a flashy finishing note.
Blackshear joins exclusive group
Blackshear’s victory on Saturday night puts him in a very exclusive class in the sport. In the UFC, he’s just the third fighter to win a contest with a twister submission.
The first person to secure the submission in the promotion was Chan Sung Jung, also known as The Korean Zombie. Back in 2011, he put away Leonard Garcia late in the second round of a featherweight contest, making a splash in what has his promotional debut at the time.
After Zombie made history in 2011, we went quite some time before seeing the submission executed to perfection in the top promotion once again. It re-emerged in 2019, when then-undefeated featherweight Bryce Mitchell put away Matt Sayles in the first round of their contest.
A year later, Mitchell tried to become the only fighter in the promotion’s history to win two fights via twister, but was unsuccessful. When facing Charles Rosa in 2020, Mitchell looked for the submission but was not able to end the bout with it. He sounded amazed by Rosa’s toughness afterward, explaining that “I don’t know why in the hell his neck didn’t break.”
The twister: it sticks out from the rest
A large number of MMA submission finishes come from just a few common moves. At the 2023 Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports Annual Conference, a doctor presented a talk about different chokes seen in MMA. As part of their presentation, in a photo captured by Erik Magraken, a chart of every choke in UFC history was provided.
While this image shows just chokes – not all submissions – it illustrates how most submission outcomes are from just a few different types of attempts. Nearly 50 percent of chokes were rear naked chokes. Guillotines were 12 percent, arm-in guillotine and arm triangle were nine percent each, and triangle choke was seven percent. After that, every choke was seen 39 or less times in UFC history – which equals about 3.5 percent or less of the choke outcomes ever seen in the promotion.
Despite the twister now having happened three times in the UFC, it is still more rare than other submissions that are not seen often, according to the chart cited above. The bulldog choke, Von Flue Choke, North South Choke, Ezekiel Choke, inverted triangle choke, and scarfhold have all happened more times each in the UFC.
So, pretty rare.
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