Palhares docked for holding sub late

Mike Pierce screams while getting submitted by Rousimar Palhares
Rousimar Palhares' ankle-lock sub on Mike Pierce is now under investigation.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.


The thing about reputations is that they’re easy to make and hard to shake. Rousimar Palhares is finding that out right about now, after the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission said it would investigate him and the UFC withheld a surefire $50,000 Submission Of The Night award following the conclusion of UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields.

The fight itself went perfectly for Palhares, right up until the time his opponent Mike Pierce tapped to a heel hook in just 31 seconds. As referee Keith Peterson dove in to halt the action, Palhares held on for an extra beat.

That led to an immediate backlash against Palhares, as the heel hook is considered to be one of the most dangerous submission holds in MMA, often resulting in damage to the victim’s knee or ankle.

This wasn’t the first time in Palhares’ career he’s been accused of holding on to the move to long. Back in 2010, he was suspended for 90 days by the Nevada state athletic commission after doing the same thing to Tomasz Drwal.

UFC executive Marshall Zelaznik, who oversaw the evening’s post-fight press conference at Ginasio Jose Correa in Barueri, Brazil, referenced the previous incident in explaining the promotion’s decision to withhold the nightly bonus award. Palhares (15-5) was the only fighter to earn a submission, so for now, the award money has gone unspent.

“Obviously there’s been a bit of a history of ‘Toquinho,’ and he’s held some submissions in the past,” Zelaznik said. “He’s had some controversial issues surrounding some of his submissions. Dana reacted very strongly to it. A lot of the executives in the company and the commission acted strongly to it. So we’ve decided in the betterment of judgment to withhold any judgment at all. I suppose there’s a chance that if the commission comes back with a favorable finding, we can reevaluate whether an award is given, but right now we’re not making a commitment to it.”

Zelaznik said the commission has the authority to penalize Palhares, and the the UFC also had contractual rights to do the same.

Palhares did not appear at the post-fight press conference, and there was no immediate word on if Pierce suffered an injury from the submission hold. In a brief post-fight interview, he said if he did get the post-fight bonus, he would donate it to the charitable organziation Doctors Without Borders.

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