On March 4th, 2023, at UFC 285 the MMA world was shocked to witness the swiftest title fight in Heavyweight history and the return of the legendary, Jon “Bones” Jones.
After three years away from the sport, the former two-time Light Heavyweight champion’s first fight back in the octagon had many fans sceptical if the layoff would hinder his capabilities in his Heavyweight debut.
Yet, the 35 year-old effortlessly countered Ciryl Gane’s offence, wrestled him against the cage and executed the perfect guillotine choke in two minutes, winning the Heavyweight title and cementing his status as the G.O.A.T.
The guillotine choke, or Mae Hadaka Jime originates from the Japanese battle art of Jujitsu, which was then adopted into Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The way the technique works is by wrapping the arm around the trachea, the applied pressure restricts the blood flow to the head, eventually leading to unconsciousness and, applied for a prolonged period, can cause death for the receiver.
The first notable example of the guillotine choke finish in the UFC was witnessed on its second PPV with Patrick Smith using the guillotine to win two of his three fights in the sixteen-man tournament, which lead him to the finals.
Historically, the guillotine choke was the finisher that won the UFC’s first title when Ken Shamrock defeated Dan Severn at UFC 6 for the now defunct Superfight Championship.
Since then, this deadly choke has served as a valuable weapon, utilised by both grappling specialists and dedicated champions.
With this intro all tied up let’s lock up for the Top 5 Guillotine Choke Finishes in UFC History! (in descending order)
5. Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson – UFC 279 (Sep. 10, 2022)
Throughout his illustrious career in the UFC, Nate Diaz had earned eight memorable submission victories in his two-decade run, four of those victories coming by way of guillotine chokes.
Former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson, went through the new decade suffering a four-fight losing streak, but was looking to change his luck by returning to welterweight. A dream match was set for two of the most enigmatic personalities in the UFC to finally collide.
From rounds 1 through 4, Diaz held the edge in landing the more significant strikes and showcasing sharp combos. Ferguson, received a cut on the leg earlier in round 1, and above the eye. Yet, despite the punishment, “El Cucuy” showed the heart of a warrior, remained persistent in the stand up, and ultimately found his rhythm with solid leg kicks battering Diaz’s leg.
This enthralling back-and-fourth eventually made its climax, as soon as Ferguson scored the takedown, Diaz wrapped his head into a guillotine choke.
The fight was over at 2:52 into round 4, earning Diaz a Performance of the Night bonus and his fifth guillotine choke finish in the UFC.
4. Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira – UFC FN: 170 (Mar. 14, 2020)
From 2018 to 2019, Charles Oliveira ended the last two years of the decade with a six-fight win streak, all ending with show-stopping submissions and knockouts.
His first fight in the 2020s was against a 27 year-old, Kevin Lee, who was coming off a Performance of the Night victory, knocking out unbeaten lightweight, Gregor Gillespie with a devastating kick to the head.
Despite the risk of Kevin’s knockout power, Oliveira remained fearless, pressuring his opponent against the cage, pulling off flying kicks, and out striking the American, beating him at his own game.
Lee managed to land a couple of solid punches on Oliveira, yet the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt absorbed them like they were nothing. The American, however, was successful in taking Oliveira to the ground in the second round, and aimed at taking him down again. However, Oliveira anticipated the attempted double-leg, and wrapped his head into a guillotine choke.
Lee surrendered at 28 seconds into round 3, and Oliveira stood victorious in front of his home country of Brazil.
3. Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum – UFC 188 (Jun. 13, 2015)
Before returning to the UFC in 2012, Werdum made a name for himself after becoming the first fighter to submit the former Pride Heavyweight champion, Fedor Emilianenko.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s triangle choke on “The Last Emperor” sent shock waves around the MMA community as Werdum made history breaking the Russian heavyweight’s nine-year winning streak at Strikeforce on June 26, 2010.
From 2012 to 2014, the Brazilian was riding on a career resurgence at the UFC with a five-fight win streak, which led him to a title opportunity against the heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez. The title fight was scheduled to take place in Mexico City.
Despite facing the pressure of the champion’s striking prowess and multiple takedowns in the first round, Werdum held his ground, survived the first round and adjusted his game plan. The challenger outstruck Velasquez, and opened a cut above his eye.
In a desperate move, an exhausted Velasquez went straight for the takedown. It would prove to be the champion’s undoing as Werdum caught him straight into a guillotine choke.
It didn’t take long for Velasquez to submit at 2:13 in round 3. At the age of 37, Werdum fulfilled his dream in becoming the UFC champion, taking the belt back to Brazil.
2. Brian Ortega vs. Cub Swanson – UFC FN: 123 (Dec. 9, 2017)
With an unbeaten record of 12-0 (1), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Brian “T-City” Ortega was a walking nightmare in the featherweight division, with his last four fights ending in first-round knockouts and submissions.
In his continuing rise to the top of the division, Ortega went into the main event of Fight Night and took on the no.4-ranked Featherweight, Cub “Killer” Swanson.
Aware of Swanson’s killer striking abilities, “T-City” had to keep his distance and deal with his power punches until he could close the gap between them and execute his expertise in submission holds.
Although he failed to get the guillotine choke secured in round 1, Ortega would get another chance after pressuring Swanson against the cage, pulling off a standing guillotine with his opponent still on his feet. Swanson surrendered at 3:22 into round 2, winning Ortega a Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night bonus.
1. Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida – UFC 140 (Dec. 10, 2011)
In his second title defence, Jon “Bones” Jones was to face former Light Heavyweight champion, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Ever since he lost the title to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the karate black belt prided himself on reclaiming the crown, even if “The Dragon” had to devour the bones of the youngest champion in UFC history.
Both warriors remained cautious, yet it would be “The Dragon” to launch the strike that startled Jones, making Machida the first fighter to bring peril to the young champion. But, as impressive as that counter strike was, it would only serve Jon Jones the blueprint for victory.
As Jones feints a leg kick, Lyoto moved in for the kill, but led himself into a thunderous left hand, dropping him onto the floor. Once Jones brought the challenger back up against the cage, he secured a deadly guillotine choke while on his feet, and twisted the head of “The Dragon”.
With no signs of resistance, referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy called the contest at 4:26 of round 2. The champion released the choke, leaving Machida’s unconscious body to drop on the mat. Thus the reign of the light-heavyweight king would continue, “The Dragon” was slayed.