There’s an old saying in MMA when it comes to submissions – “tap or snap”. Essentially, it’s advice for a fighter who might be caught in a tight hold from a grappling expert – it’s better to give up and fight another day than suffer a serious injury by refusing to submit.
Unfortunately, the saying only works if the fighter applying the hold is willing to release it when they feel that tap – and on more than one occasion in the UFC, we’ve seen submission experts who are more than willing to keep on cranking for longer than is needed.
Here are 5 UFC fighters who held onto submissions for way too long.
#1 Royce Gracie
The first ever UFC event – way back on November 12th, 1993 – saw grappling ace Royce Gracie introduce the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the world by submitting three opponents en route to his victory in the promotion’s inaugural tournament, but while the fighting style is commonly nicknamed ‘the gentle art’, Gracie certainly wasn’t gentle with final opponent Gerard Gordeau.
Gordeau, a Dutch kickboxer, had beaten his two previous opponents in the tournament by TKO, but was clearly up against someone much trickier in Gracie. And so when the Brazilian took him down, the Dutchman – clearly operating within the tournament’s “there are no rules” remit – bit his ear in an intentional foul.
Royce’s response? He slapped on a rear naked choke – and despite Gordeau tapping out quickly, he kept on tightening it up until the referee stepped in. The overly long choke was widely ignored at the time, but has been scrutinized since – largely because the story of the bite, which Gordeau himself confirmed, made its way into MMA folklore.
Thankfully, there were no hard feelings between the two; Gordeau admitted Gracie had been the better fighter, and in 2012, the Brazilian visited the Dutchman’s gym in Den Haag to train with him, nearly 20 years after their legendary fight.