UFC Ultimate Submissions highlights what makes ground fighting so devastating and exciting. Fighters get into an advantageous position, bend a limb, and exert unimaginable pain upon their opponents. Victims of a submission face two choices: tap and live to fight another day or endure the agony of having your opponent snap your limb in half. The latter seldom occurs, but some of those rare non-taps are captured in this set--and they are gruesome. UFC Ultimate Submissions is a Las Vegas, all-you-can-eat buffet of Triangle Chokes, Rear-Naked Chokes, Arm Bars, Knee Bars, Omoplata's and Americana's. There's even a ridiculous double submission/choke move that has to be seen to be believed.
UFC play-by-play announcer, Mike Goldberg, hosts the main feature. There are tap-out clips from about 30 different fights. Goldberg quickly introduces each fight, giving a little background information on each fighter. Then, the feature jumps to the section of the fight where the submission occurred. The clips contain a minute or two of fight action leading up to the actual submission and are shown in no particular order.
The feature focuses entirely on tap-outs by choke or submission. Unquestionably some of the best submission endings in UFC history made it onto this DVD. There are no glaring omissions except perhaps the earlier, pre-Zuffa, UFC classics featuring Royce Gracie. Ultimate Submissions' most impressive tap-outs include Chris Lytle's vicious knee bar on Brian Foster, Nate Diaz flipping off no one in particular while ensnaring Kurt Pellegrino in a triangle, and George St. Pierre manhandling Matt Hughes. Frank Mir receives the honor of finishing out the main feature with his stunning victory over Brock Lesnar. In this fight, Mir survives Lesnar's onslaught and then submits him with a simple knee bar.
There is a surprising mix of both UFC superstars and relative unknowns. Casual fans of mixed martial arts are undoubtedly familiar with names such as Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn, Matt Hughes, and Anderson Silva. Lesser known, but highly talented submission artists such as Dustin Hazelett, CB Dolloway, and Cole Miller receive great exposure and are mixed into the feature right alongside the main eventers. This is a well rounded set that could have focused only on the most popular fighters with few complaints. Admittedly, I forgot about some of the fighters included on the DVD and it served as something of a refresher course on up-and-coming submission fighters, who I am excited to see fight again soon.
In many cases, showing just a brief clip of the ending hold was enough footage. However, the Jason MacDonald vs. Demian Maia fight would have benefitted from a more extensive clip. This fight was one of the most impressive displays of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I ever saw in the UFC. The two ground-fighting masters were locked in a three-round, chess match filled with rolls, submissions, and reversals. The brilliant finale of that bout is, of course, included in this set, but more clips from the earlier rounds should have been included in the feature just to outline the greatness of this fight. At least the producers of this DVD could have put the full fight in the Bonus section.
An inclusion that I am forced to question is the heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir and Tim Sylvia. In this battle, Frank Mir snaps Tim Sylvia's arm leading to a referee stoppage. Yeah, it's nasty--only Tim Sylvia did not submit at all. He even argued with the referee that he could keep fighting. Every other clip shows the loser of the bout tapping out. There's even a featurette in the extras entitled Just Won't Tap, where this clip would have been at home. Perhaps I am just biased and hate seeing Tim Sylvia, the most boring title holder to ever grace the octagon, receiving any exposure.
UFC Ultimate Submissions is briefer than I expected, but it stays on target showing only the final submissions of each fight. Fans of the ground game will love this DVD and never get tired of watching master tacticians practice their savage craft of breaking down their opponents' will to fight.
Audio: The audio track is in 2.0 stereo, which is perfectly acceptable for UFC fights. The audio is clear and contains all the original commentary for each bout.
Video: The video is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and looks remarkably clear and sharp. The only exception is the octagon fence which shimmers in from certain camera angles; this effect is from the source material and occurs in the original television broadcasts. Even the older fight clips are in great condition. The visual quality obviously decreases with the much older fights included in the bonus section, but overall the video quality is impressive.
Extras: The extras are a bevy of riches for UFC fighting fans. Matt Hughes and BJ Penn fans, especially, will be pleased with the match selections. As a longtime fan of both fighters, it was a treat to lose myself in these extras and rewatch some of their classic bouts. Also included are fights featuring Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Joe Stevenson, and even Dustin Hazelett. My only disappointment was that the amazing fight between Jason MacDonald and Demian Maia, mentioned earlier, was not included in full.
Classics - The UFC was so innocent during its early days. These fights from the early-mid 90's occurred well before the term "mixed martial arts" gained notoriety and typically featured two masters trying to prove their martial arts' superiority. There were no rounds. No weight classes. The pay-per-view events were grueling one day tournaments. Some guys would fight in full martial arts gi's. Referees would constantly wander in front of the camera, blocking the action. Yet, I loved the UFC every bit as much then as I do now. I have watched the UFC since its initial pay-per-view and these fights bring back some great memories.
This DVD includes golden oldies such as Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman vs. Dan Severn, and Randy Couture "The Amateur" vs. Tony Halme "The Professional." The match pitting Royce Gracie against Jason Delucia, the kung fu master, shows just how uneducated the early UFC was about the ground game. As the commentators explain now commonplace MMA terminology such as the "guard," Royce Gracie locks in an arm bar. The referee lets Delucia tap for a ridiculous amount of time before finally stopping the fight. I guess Big John McCarthy was never on the receiving end of an arm bar.
Never Tap - this quick featurette shows fighters choosing to go unconscious, outlast a submission attempt, or receive a referee stoppage rather than give in. It's noble. It's gutsy. It's tough. It's also usually a bad decision for a professional fighter to let his arm break and be out of the game for months. The final clip may be one of the most horrifying submission holds that I have ever seen.
Final Thoughts: UFC Ultimate Submissions is a quick hit, clips show highlighting some of the most devastating submission moves and choke-outs in UFC history. The brevity of background information and fight footage left me pining for a little more depth. This set features both UFC superstars and lesser-knowns alike, giving some talented, perennial undercard fighters exposure to new and casual fight fans. The bonuses are a virtual treasure trove of classic fights for hardcore MMA fans. Recommended.