Sunday, December 07, 2014

MMA Submission Hero of the Week: Herica Tiburcio

Herica Tiburcio (choke v. Michelle Waterson) - Invicta FC10

There will be some who wonder how submitting one of the top lightweights in the world - which is what UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis did last night in his victory by choke over Gilbert Melendez - does not earn you the title of MMA Submission Hero of the Week.

It's a fair point. For all the talk of guys like Eddie Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez was the great white whale of the UFC's lightweight division. For years, if there was one lightweight competing outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship who could claim to be better than the dudes in his division inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, that lightweight was Gilbert Melendez.

So for Anthony Pettis to return to the cage and make the first defense of his title a victory by submission over such an opponent, it is not hard at all to see Mr. Showtime as a Submission Hero of the Highest Order.

And he is.

But if there is one thing more dramatic than defending the belt by submission, it is taking the belt from the champ by submission (ask Benson Henderson, who lost his title to an Anthony Pettis armbar a little over a year ago). And I think we can also agree that it is even more impressive if that submission victory and belt-changing comes at the hand of a substantial underdog.

That's the spirit that has me giving the nod to Invicta's new Atomweight Champion, Herica Tiburcio. Tiburcio dominated former champ Michelle Waterson en route to a finish by choke in round three.

The fighter from Minas Gerais was a +600 underdog coming into the fight against a champion on a six fight win streak with five finishes. Tiburcio controlled much of the contest, putting Waterson on the defensive with strikes, including one that left a large, vision-impeding mouse under the champion's left eye.

The submission victory is Tiburcio's seventh out of eleven pro fights, and her third victory by guillotine.

To say that this shakes up the Atomweight division is an understatement. And while there will likely be many clamoring for a rematch between Tiburcio and the "Karate Hottie", there are other Atomweights, such as Jinh Yu Frey, who should be in the conversation, as well. Frey won her contest at Invicta FC 10, defeating winless Cassie Robb by choke.


Runner's Up
Anthony Pettis (choke v. Gilbert Melendez) - UFC 181
Racquel Pennington (choke v. Ashlee Evans-Smith) - UFC 181

Honorable Mentions
Bibiano Fernandes (choke v, Dae Hwan Kim) - One FC 23
Tony Ferguson (choke v. Abel Trujillo) - UFC 181
Borys Mankowski (choke v. David Zawada) - KSW 29
Jinh Yu Frey (choke v. Cassie Robb) - Invicta FC 10
Tonya Evinger (armbar v. Cindy Dandois) - Invicta FC 10
Urijah Faber (choke v. Francisco Rivera) - UFC 181


What is an MMA Submission Hero?
Death to the death of jiu-jitsu in mixed martial arts! There are guys and gals getting it done with chokes, armbars, leglocks and more every weekend in the cage! 

MMA Submission Hero of the Week recognizes the men and women who finish fights "the gentle way." Each week we'll highlight MMA's best stranglers, arm collectors, and leg snappers, be they well-known jiu-jitsu superstars or a small-show strikers with a knack for pulling off the occasional submission surprise.

Check the sidecontrol blog every Sunday after a weekend of MMA action and see just who is this week's MMA Submission Hero of the Week!