Rousimar Palhares is perhaps the most dangerous submission artist in MMA today. Both Jon Fitch and Jake Shields, two very accomplished grapplers in their own right, have felt the sting of a Palhares submission hold.
The controversy that has always surrounded "Toquinho" has been how long he holds his submissions for and the force that he puts into them long after the tap.
His most recent win this past Saturday was marred by eye gouging controversy and a lengthy submission hold. Palhares deviated from his usual leg-lock submission and applied the equally as dangerous kimura to submit Jake Shields at WSOF 22: Palhares vs. Shields.
The few defenders of Palhares have suggested that he only held onto the submission for a couple of more seconds after the tap, which isn't too damaging. The difference between holding onto a rear naked choke for a second longer and a kimura is that with a kimura, the extra second can result in serious damage.
Fighters are very aware of this, and most use extra caution when finishing a submission hold that can result in a damaged limb. Compare Palhares' finish to the past 11 kimura finishes in the UFC and it becomes obvious as to how aware fighters are of the power of the kimura. (Note: The times are not exact but close estimates based on watching the finishes over and over again with a stop watch)
Demetrious Johnson def. Chris Cariaso: Let go 0.41 seconds after the tap, let go before the ref intervened
Joe Lauzon def. Curt Warburton: Let go 0.25 after the tap, let go as the ref intervened
Frank Mir def. : Let go 0.38 after the tap, let go as ref intervened
Rousimar Palhares def. Jake Shields: 1.86 after the tap, 1.38 after ref intervened
**George Sotiropoulos held the submission in place, stopped cranking when Lauzon tapped
These fighters know how devastating this submission hold can be, and no fighter wants to take a fighter out of action for a year with a torn ligament. Out of the 11 kimura finishes, 7 of the fighters let go of the hold just before or as the ref stopped the fight. The other finishes were held onto for a fraction of a second longer before being let go, with the exception of the Sotiropoulos finish.
In most of those victories, the fighter being submitted tapped frantically in the same way that Jake Shields did. One of the only fighters who didn't tap as though his life depended on it was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who ended up with quite the x-ray photo.
Of course, this is the sport of MMA and fighters run the risk of injury every single time they fight. Broken hands, dislocated shoulders and brain injuries are all just a part of the game.
The difference between those types of injuries and Palhares injuring a fighter is that he takes out a fighter's arm or leg after the fight has been stopped. Palhares was suspended for 90 days after failing to let go of a heel hook that caused Tomasz Drwal to scream in pain and limp out of the cage. Palhares was then released by the UFC for holding onto another heel hook for too long against Mike Pierce. Now the Vice President of WSOF Abdel-Aziz says Palhares could be stripped of his welterweight title due to his actions against Shields.
In 1993, it was more understandable to hold onto a submission longer. There were incompetent refs, unprofessional regulatory bodies a lack of video replay and a terrible understanding of the submission game. In 2015, there is no reason to hold on to a submission longer because you feel like the ref will miss it and you won't be credited with a win.