MMA Junkie’s ‘Submission of the Month’ for June: The ‘Human Backpack’ strikes again

    With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best submissions from June 2020: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Submission of the Month” award for June.

    At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.

    * * * *

    The Nominees

    Aljamain Sterling def. Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250

    Aljamain Sterling (19-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) put himself in the top echelon of bantamweight title contenders when he defeated Cory Sandhagen (12-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in the best performance of his career.

    Sterling added another signature win to his now five-fight winning streak when he ended Sandhagen’s unbeaten octagon run by quickly taking their title eliminator matchup to the ground. He secured back position in short order then worked away at a rear-naked choke that eventually elicited a tap from Sandhagen less than 90 seconds in.

    Gillian Robertson def. Cortney Casey at UFC on ESPN 11

    Gillian Robertson (8-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) made all sorts of history in her women’s flyweight matchup with Cortney Casey (9-8 MMA, 4-7 UFC), becoming the first in divisional history to reach five stoppage victories.

    Robertson put her strong ground game to use against Casey. She finally found her way into a rear-naked choke in the third round and then closed the show by becoming the first person to earn a submission victory out of “Cast Iron.”

    Jim Miller def. Roosevelt Roberts at UFC on ESPN 11

    36-year-old Jim Miller (32-14 MMA, 21-13 UFC) showed he can still fend off the next generation when he beat Roosevelt Roberts (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who was 14 when Miller made his UFC debut in 2008 in the first round.

    Miller’s grappling advantage and submission prowess was merely a level above Roberts in the lightweight bout, and it didn’t take long to show. The veteran, who made his record-tying 35th UFC appearance at the event, snatched up an armbar on Roberts from bottom position. All told, the fight took less than half a round and moved Miller into third place on the UFC’s all-time wins list.

    Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson at UFC on ESPN 12

    Third stints don’t come around the UFC often, but Julian Erosa (24-8 MMA, 2-4 UFC) was of the few to get that opportunity. He made the most of it when pulled off the upset against a previously unbeaten opponent in Sean Woodson (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC).

    To make things more impressive, “Juicy J,” who initially got into the UFC via “The Ultimate Fighter 22.” took the fight against Woodson on less than a weeks’ notice. After walking through every shot that came away, Erosa finally grabbed ahold of Woodson’s neck. He locked in the D’Arce choke and got his first UFC win in years.

    Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante at UFC on ESPN 12

    Gian Villante (17-12 MMA, 7-9 UFC) dropped Maurice Greene (9-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) with a left hook during the third round of their heavyweight bout, and it sure seemed like the fight’s end was near.

    That turned out to be the case, but not in a way most were expecting. With Villante in top position and seemingly well positioned to finish things off, Greene pulled an arm-triangle choke out of nowhere and got the submission victory with less than 90 seconds in the round. Greene insisted afterward the finish was achieved purely through technique, but Villante’s exhaustion seems to contribute, too.

    * * * *

    The Winner: Aljamain Sterling


    On a night in which bantamweight contenders jockeyed for position to make their case in the race for a bantamweight title shot, Sterling wasted little time stating his own.

    Fighting in a UFC 250 main-card bout that UFC president Dana White hinted would be a title eliminator, Sterling made short work of Sandhagen.

    The Long Island-based competitor blitzed Sandhagen, dominating from the jump before winning by rear-naked choke. The time of the stoppage was 1:28 of the opening round, as Sterling won his fourth consecutive fight.

    “I got no words for this right now,” Sterling said. “The world is in shambles right now, there is a lot going on, especially in this country. … This is for everyone fighting the good fight back home, protesting.”

    Sterling wasted little time in taking a standing Sandhagen’s back. He brought Sandhagen to the ground and nearly finished things with his first rear-naked choke attempt, but Sandhagen escaped. Twice more Sterling applied the choke, and Sandhagen did his best to escape, but a tight body lock limited his options. The third time around, Sandhagen tapped just as he was going out.

    This was originally published on

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