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Rousimar Palhares’s History of Assholishness Contributed to UFC 111 Suspension

(Rousimar Palhares vs. Helio Dipp, 3/10/07. Dipp passes out at 2:06. Palhares lets go at 2:10. Despite the peppy soundtrack, nobody appears to be very happy about it.)

If you’re a UFC fighter who competes every four months, a 90-day suspension is a fairly empty gesture. Still, we have to give some props to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board for making it officially known that holding onto a submission after the referee has stopped the fight is, at the very least, frowned upon. So why did they decide to make an example out of Rousimar Palhares, following his heel hook of Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111? Turns out, holding onto subs well past the point of necessity is a bad habit for "Toquinho":

“When a referee’s in there pulling three times and the other fighter’s tapping…I think everybody knows, regardless of language issues or anything, at that point the referee’s trying to stop the fight,” [NJSACB counsel Nick] Lembo told on Monday…"A referee should not have to use that much force to release a heel (hook)," Lembo wrote…
Lembo said Palhares’ past adherence to [holding submissions to eliminate any dispute that the other fighter tapped] is part of what led to his decision. He reviewed Palhares’ submissions of Helio Dipp and Flavio Luiz Moura in Brazil in 2007 before Saturday’s fight and thought those holds were held too long as well.  “If you watch those two fights, that concerned me,” Lembo said. “He’s very, very slow after the referee physically intervenes, as in this case. I think Palhares in an outstanding fighter with an outstanding future. Maybe this will send a message that his camp can discuss this with him and maybe alter it a little bit.”

For reference, here’s the other fight that Lembo mentioned, Palhares’s heel-hook win over Flavio Luiz Moura in August 2007. It’s a little more subtle than the Dipp ending, but if you watch closely you can see Palhares give the leglock one extra torque after the ref jumps in, perhaps in retaliation for the footstomps that came directly before it: 

After the suspension came down, Palhares’s manager Alex Davis explained, "When Rousimar catches a position, he wants to make sure he holds on to it, that’s the main thing. It was the very first minute of the fight, that’s when the adrenaline’s pumping and you know what, a fighter isn’t really all there. The adrenaline is not making him think right. He’s closing his eyes and he wants to finish.” So…

Point: "Temporary insanity" is a ridiculous argument. As a professional fighter, you need to have the maturity to stop doing damage to your opponent after the fight has been stopped. There’s clearly something wrong with this Palhares guy.

Counter-point: Punishment for this sort of thing is woefully subjective. There are no standard penalties for holding onto submissions after an official stoppage — the length of the suspension that Palhares caught in New Jersey was fairly arbitrary, and only came about because Lembo & Co. were informed enough to know of Palhares’s past transgressions. Plus, the rule is enforced sporadically, and only in the most flagrant of cases. (See: Renato Sobral being cut by the UFC after failing to release his choke against David Heath at UFC 74.) So how is a fighter supposed to know when he’s gone too far?

I’ve been thinking about this since John Howard teed off on a clearly-unconscious Daniel Roberts at UFC on Versus. Sure, we can chastise Palhares and Howard for not having more consideration for their opponents’ health. But until the UFC’s fighters get an official message saying, for example, "You will be suspended for six months and fined $25,000 if you fail to release a submission hold after you’ve been ordered to, or continue to punch an opponent after he’s been rendered unconscious," I don’t think all the blame can be placed on the fighters. The consequences for intentionally injuring your opponent after a fight is stopped must be defined and enforced, and right now, it all seems to be a matter of opinion.


Cagepotato Comments

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robthom- March 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm
If he can destroy anderson silvas knee then all is forgiven.

I'll even fondle his balls if thats what he needs.
ghostboner- March 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm
@idestroy - I've been waiting for you to chime in on this after all the Palhares ball fondling you have done. That was a good balance between not quite admitting outright that you still love him, and not taking a serious stand in his defense. Nice.
iDestroy- March 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm
Ya'll have got to top hatin' on my boy. In his first loss, Palhares caught his oppentent in a knee bar and his opponent tapped, so he let go. The ref however, didn't see it and continued to let him fight.* That's why Palhares has a tendency to hold on a little longer than he should.

Besides, he's only done it three times, does that really make him a dirty fighter? Really?

And for whoever said Joe Rogan counted it out and he held it for five seconds, Joe Rogan is a moron, it was a slow motion replay.

So just leave Palhares alone, 'cuz he's our only hope for beating Anderson. Also, he'll kill you.

*This statement is in no way based on fact.
TehBeej- March 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm
What about when 'page continued to hit Wanderlei even after the ref grabbed him to stop??

That really got me upset.
AndyInflammatory- March 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm
ref should have the option to sneak up behind the offender and shank him in the kidneys
NorthSouthDudesOnly- March 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm
Peppy soundtrack = Pride theme.
NateGetsIrate- March 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm
Good article (blog?), BG!

I think it's time to update the "10 Most Despicable People in MMA" list.
dheinig- March 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm
granted there's a lot gonig on in the ring...especially when you're I can easily see why a fighter might wait an extra 1/2 second to make sure the ref saw the tap or whatever...we've all seen good fighters look right at the ref and say "he's out"...

i totally agree that these fighters need to be responsible and not seek to injur other fighters beyond the win...but then again what do you expect from the kind of guys that are attracted to fist fighting and trying to submit guys with chokes and joint locks...

it's also worth noting that what happened in the second video in this post isn't being accurately reported...the ref stopped the fight because of the illegal hatchet kicks the dude was trying to deliver to his head...not because of the ankle lock even though the guy was tapping...the ankle lock was held because the ref wasn't acknowledging the can see him get totally pissed off. the fight should have been stopped with a win because clearly the head kicks didn't prevent him from securing the lock..if anything the other guy should have been suspended for illegal strikes...

like i said, not arguing for one guy or another here, and i totally agree that safety is crucial and needs to be reinforced...but it's also important to report objectively.
robthom- March 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm
"This is pretty clear cut evidence that he a dirty fighter, ..."

I'd have to agree it looks that way.
Does UFC do any background or look at any tapes of guys before they sign them?

ghostboner- March 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm
Last sentence from Rousimar's manager, "He's closing his eyes and he wants to finish." This could also describe my experience at a rather slummy titty bar in Vegas...
ghostboner- March 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm
Also, thank you Ben G for writing the article and suggesting a standardized consequence. I have been the lone sandy vagina of mma for years complaining about this very thing. If you are going to call yourself a professional, then act like one. See Nate Marquardt vs Damian Maia. All you guys making excuses for John Howard and Andre Winner etc. are ridiculous. There is no need to continue pounding someone who is already out. Besides, as Kurt Pellegrino tells us, you risk waking them back up and having to keep fighting.

I think the suspension should be the main thing. Fine 50% of the fight purse and give it to the opponent, but the suspension should be a year. That will hopefully give them time to have to get a day job, and maybe think "Wow I really miss getting paid to compete in mma. I'm gonna follow the F'ing rules this time and not be such a rancid bag of poop."
snaxkrew- March 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm
I think that Joe Rogan's reaction says it all. We all know how fucking smart he is and objectively he commentates. He always calls it how he sees it and is often times right. You can hear him say in the instant replay how long Rousimar held that heel hook. He counted almost 5 seconds. I mean you could see how long it went after the ref stopped the fight and tried to push him off. It was absolutely ridiculous. The punishment of 90 days is nothing considering you dont' even fight that soon after anyways. He should at least be fined on top of that and should get the suspension should take as long as it took for that other fighter to recover from his injuries. For fucks sake he probably wrecked that guys knee. "he's going to need surgery on that knee." THat really pissed me off
ghostboner- March 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm
@get off me - Yeah the whistle idea is all fine and good until Matt Hammil catches somebody in a heel hook...
korzen- March 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm
I'm maybe bias coz I,m from Poland (Drwal's country).

I like the idea about UFC finning for Palhares sub/ Hendo KO.

If you are PRO in something you must know how to act and not let the emotions take charge.

But not 25.000$.. I think 25 or 50% of earnings is good (25K for Chuck or Rampage is nothing but for low level UFC fighter is too much, but 25% is better idea)
ReX13- March 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm
hjdevnull speaks troof, mah bredren. Listen to my man Herb and everyone just be cool.

I do like the idea of giving the ref a stun gun or a cattle prod or some brass knuckles or something, though.
Denoginizer- March 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm
Paul Harris shouldn't be allowed to fight again until Dwal does.
BryanF- March 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm
Palhares "closes his eyes and thinks only of finishing the fight"? He be channeling a different type of 3rd world poverty brand of anger.

Seriously, that would freak me out if a guy had a hold on me and silently chanted things to himself in Portuguese or like "You're no son of mine...You're no son of mine..."
whiterice- March 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm
I didn't see the Howard fight you mention -- but if the ref didn't stop him, you can't blame him for continuing the fight (a la Hendo/Bisping). The fighters can't make those split-second judgment calls. Carwin got in three or four shots on Mir, who was so clearly out... but no one told him to stop. But thats not the same as when the ref says stop and you keep going. I liked Palhares as a fighter... until all this and seeing those videos up there. What a serious tool. And I always thought they used the choke as an excuse to throw Babalu out - I mean its messed up but he's the only one to get fired over it. I agree standards of punishment would go a long way to detering this behavior.
Get Off Me- March 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm
I've said it many times over.....Referee get's a whistle. It would take out the dangerous 2-3 second period of a referee trying to break up a sub or strike to a vulnerable fighter.....the fighter strikes after the whistle, throw the book at them.
So many sports play to the whistle as previously stated, it is not perfect but I bet it would be much better than what we are seeing now(Howard is a grate example).
R3AP3RMMA- March 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm
I don't think its fair them picking on Palhares like this, when they let a particular "legend" get away with this pretty much anytime he fought. ahem Royce Gracie ahem.
GEE-yuh-TEEN- March 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm
I disagree, but hear me out. In other sports, like football, you are told to continue the play until you hear the referee's whistle. There are going to be times where a person's consciousness is in question.

Remember Matt Brown vs. Pete Sell? Pete was clearly a walking zombie, and Matt Brown wanted the ref to stop it, but he didn't so Matt kept going.

What if Matt slowed his attack to look at the ref and Pete caught him with a wild hook and turned his lights out? You have to continue your hold/attack until the ref signals stoppage, even if the person is tapping (sometimes the ref doesn't see it).

Having said that, punishments should be harsh for not following the commands of the refs. It is up to the ref's who have training and experience to judge when a fighter is unconscious, tapping or unable to continue. (Herb stopped the Silvia vs. Mir fight when Silvia's arm was broken and he still didn't tap).
Cro mag- March 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm
Palhares may have gotten a slap on the wrist this time, but I would bet that if he does it again, he will be kicked out of the UFC before Dana White could say WTF.
hjdevnull- March 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm
I think that there wasn't anything wrong with what John Howard did -- he kept punching until the ref stopped him, and then he stopped. The fighter CANNOT be the one to determine when the fight is over, that is solely the jurisdiction of the referee (and, in some cases, the doctor on hand). However, the authority of the referee is absolute and cannot be ignored. The primary objective of the referee is to monitor the safety of the fighters, and when a fighter does not heed the referee's instructions, he is putting the other fighter at risk. It's one of the points the referee makes before every fight: "Obey my instructions at all times." Palhares clearly did not.

The UFC really should make a stand about this. They've done a huge amount of work in getting the athletic commissions to sanction MMA, and it shouldn't stop there. The fighters are under their employ, and failure to heed the referee should be severely punished.

But the fighters don't determine when the fight is over. Asking them to do so starts a very dangerous precedent -- hell, even asking them to think about when it might end can be dangerous. Obey the referee, at all times, or else get fined and suspended. Other than that, fight. The rest is someone else's job.
El Guapo- March 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm
(Sinister smile)You guys thinking what I'm thinking?? Yup, Hardy vs Palhares!!

The guy who doesn't know the definition of the word "Tap" vs the guy who doesn't know the definition of the word "Tap". SOMETHING'S gotta give..
omunto- March 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm
Punching an opponent who is uunconscious is not as big of a deal to me so long as the ref hasnt jumped in the way or made any call or contact with the fighters. The difference between what Hendo and Howard did compared to Babalu and Palhares is that the ref had intervened in the latter yet the fighters kept going. In sports you play to the whistle, in Fighting you go till the ref says stop. It's not necessarily Hendo and Howards fault the ref was so god damn far away. For the record I include Sokaju (sp?) in the Babalu/Palhares camp for that shameful fight last year over in Japan where he wouldnt stop punching the opponent even after the ref threw his body inbetween the fighters.

If the ref says stop, you stop, or else your suspended and fined. Simple black and white rule. So long as you dont have Yves Lavigne going all wishy washy on you.