Rousimar Palhares – Heel Hook

So recently in another blog I had my brief rant on the Rousimar Palhares/David Avellan ADCC match from a few years back.  It was a perfect showcase of the true grappling talent that is Rousimar Palhares, and also the controversy that seems to follow him no matter what situation he finds himself in.

The man they call ‘Little Tree Stump’ knows no bounds when it comes to leg locks; whether it be a BJJ match or an MMA fight.  Built like a truck, Palhares presents many problems for opponents when they step into the cage with him.  A seasoned vet, Rousimar has faced some of the best the MMA world has to offer such as Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher.

Magic Number: Seven

What is so significant about this number, you might ask.  Well, in the 19 fights that Palhares has had in his career, seven of them have ended by way of some form of leg lock!  Yeah, that’s an actual number!  What’s even more impressive is that four of those came under the UFC banner against the best of the best that MMA can offer!

The heel hook is his weapon of choice when it’s time to fight.  Using his amazing strength, Palhares seemingly bullies his opposition and tosses them around at will.  When he sees the light of day, BOOM!  He snatches up that foot, cranks the heel and it’s over like that.

The Black Cloud

Me trying to heel hook Toquinho... which didn't work out so well.

Me trying to heel hook Toquinho… which didn’t work out so well.

Even with such high talent, Palhares always seems to leave you scratching your head when he steps into the cage sometimes.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Little Tree Stump has a reputation of holding onto a lock a split second after the ref calls the fight.  Obviously this doesn’t sit well with many, since most of his locks are leg locks.  Needless to say that split second can cause some serious, serious damage.
  • In a fight against Nate Marquardt, Rousimar was isolating a leg when Nate yanked his leg free from the impending doom.  Palhares, while lying on his back, looked at the point and began saying something.  The ref didn’t stop the fight allowing Marquardt to land some devastating shots on Palhares, ending the bout.  Later, Rousimar would accuse Nate of greasing, an accusation that later held no weight.
  • While fighting Dan Miller at UFC 134, Palhares had Dan on the mat and was landing some good shots.  Herb Dean was in tow, watching with a keen eye.  Herb moved close, but hadn’t called the fight.  Suddenly, Palhares stops his pummeling of Miller and leaps onto the cage in victory!  Herb Dean had to stop Miller from rushing in for the attack and had to reset the fight.  Palhares would go on to win.

So yes, there is some “issues” that have to be addressed when it comes to Palhares and his actions.  Putting all that aside, the talent is clearly there and there are few fighters that can prevent one of those mean heel hooks from obliterating their limbs.

-Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor and writer for Jiu Jitsu Magazine,, and others. He interviews with highest level competitors and BJJ coaches on his website

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