When discussing his fourth round tapout loss to UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson explained that he lets no man put him to sleep because he doesn’t trust people. I’m not exactly certain what Jackson fears might unfold once he goes out, but vile atrocities such as antiquing and billboarding have been perpetrated on unconscious fighters before. But there’s a certain amount of trust that goes into tapping out as well. The tapout is nothing more than a gentlemen’s agreement, really, in which one fighter admits that he’s taken enough punishment for one day. But not everyone in the face-punching business is a gentleman, and sometimes your opponent may not agree that you’ve taken all of the damage you deserve.
When you hold a submission too long there’s a chance of causing damage to a limb or unconsciousness, but it always leads to hurt feelings.
(Click the photo for the video, and if you can translate the embed code get at me in the comments section)
Bad blood: This is probably the best known example of a fighter refusing to let go of a submission, yet most of the facts surrounding the incident are nonsense. You know how the story goes, right? Heath capped off a bevy of pre-fight trash talk by walking out to the weigh-ins in a shirt featuring Babalu’s recent mug shot. Or did he? This fight took place at UFC 74, ironically titled “Respect”. The event featured Couture-Gonzaga and GSP-Koscheck I, which means there were probably a few cameras in the stands, yet there are more photos of Dana wearing a “Free Cage Potato” shirt than of Heath in his mocking garb. According to Heath, a fan gave him such a shirt but “it never saw the light of day”. Several websites ran stories regarding Heath wearing the shirt, but later printed retractions as it simply was not true. I was there in the stands when they hit the scales, and I certainly don’t remember it.
As for pre-fight interviews where Heath talked trash, I couldn’t find anything other than this second-hand quote credited to an interview from UFC.com: “I think he’s a helluva fighter and I like his style tremendously. The guy’s as accomplished as they get, and he’s the type of guy up and coming fighters like me look at and hope that they have a career similar to his. I’ve got all the respect in the world for the guy and I can’t wait to fight him.” Pretty harsh stuff. The weigh-ins did get heated, but it was hardly a one-way street and nothing we haven’t seen before.
The fight: It didn’t take Babalu long to get this fight to the ground, and once there he went to work with punches, hammer fists and elbows from the guard. Once reversed, the Brazilian continued to rattle off strikes and submission attempts from his back, though Heath landed a shot or two of his own. Sobral secured a takedown early in round two and quickly opened up a horrific cut on Heath’s forehead. The mat soon resembled the floor of a slaughterhouse in one of the bloodiest fights to date. Heath worked his way up only to get caught in an anaconda choke and rolled back to the floor. With nowhere to go he tapped out, but Sobral ignored Mazaggatti’s attempts to end the fight and held the choke until his opponent was out cold.
In his own words: If Babalu was feeling guilty about what he’d done, he did a good job of hiding it in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “I did what I did, because this guys a pretty young fighter; I’ve been in this game for ten years and he had no respect for me. He called me a “motherfucker.” When asked by Joe Rogan if he put him to sleep on purpose even though Heath tapped, Sobral responded: “Yes. He has to learn respect.” Still not thinking through the consequences of his words, Babalu inspected his work on the jumbotron and added: “Yes. That’s what I did. He deserved that shit.”
Payback’s a bitch: Sobral’s denial of intentional wrongdoing at his Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing–despite his own taped admission of the crime–set the bar high for Chael Sonnen‘s future pleas of innocence. Despite his claims that he didn’t feel the tap and that he released the hold as soon as he noticed the ref’s involvement, he didn’t get off so easily. The NSAC fined him $25k (half of his purse for the fight) and his contract with the UFC was terminated. As if that wasn’t enough, he was later made the victim of a horrible post-fight atrocity himself.