Updated: UFC 111 Fallout: Rousimar Palhares Suspended, Kurt Pellegrino Rewarded

Rousimar Palhares won his fight with Tomas Drwal at UFC 111, but nobody's really happy with him, from Sherdog:

(New Jersey State Athletic Control Board Counsel) Nick Lembo said he did not think Palhares intended to hurt Drwal with a heelhook that wrenched the Polish fighter's ligaments from the knee down and caused him to wail in pain in a scene replayed at countless speeds and angles during the UFC 111 pay-per-view broadcast on Saturday.

But Palhares did not properly heed referee Kevin Mulhall's physical and verbal instructions to relinquish the hold, Lembo said, and thus has been issued a 90-day disciplinary suspension. ...

Lembo said his review of the tape of Saturday's fight showed that Mulhall told Palhares to stop and tugged on him three times as he was in the throes of the submission.

Palhares spoke for himself to MMA Junkie:

"Unfortunately, there have been cases in the past where guys have tapped and then said they hadn't tapped. This happened in a match in the UFC between my trainer, Murilo Bustamante, and Matt Lindland. Our attitude is to hold the position until the ref interrupts to avoid this happening to us again."

"I did not think the suspension was fair," Palhares said. "I did not have any intent of hurting Drwal. It was in the heat of battle, and I wanted to make sure I did not lose the position. I was just waiting for the ref to interrupt the match."

Steve Cofield points out that the NJSACB looked at some of Palhares' previous fights from Brazil (videos in the full entry) and argues that the UFC might not want to keep this guy around:

The suspension isn't much of a penalty because it's unlikely that Palhares was going to be scheduled again in the next three months unless he was an injury fill-in. That said, something had to be done. In the past, Renato "Babalu" Sobral was sent packing by the UFC for holding a choke too long on David Heath. That said, Babalu admitted after the fight that he did it on purpose plus he was on the downside of his career. With Palhares, opponent's beware, the guy doesn't appear to be learning his lesson.

For my part, I think Palhares was correctly suspended and sanctioned by the NJSACB. Sure the suspension won't actually hurt him since he wasn't likely to fight in the next three months anyway, but the stigma is very real. Other athletic commissions, future opponents, the press and the UFC will all be watching Palhares closely going forward. And that's a good thing because his trade mark heel hooks are the most dangerous submission holds to be applying too long. We don't need to see a bunch of destroyed knees in the Octagon. Palhares needs to learn to let go when the ref pulls him off. Gif in the full entry so you can see for yourself.

Which brings us to the other fight from UFC 111 that is drawing some controversy, Kurt Pellegrino's slam of Fabricio Camoes. The slam was part of a come back that culminated with Pellegrino locking in a Submission of the Night winning choke hold on Camoes. Fightlinker thinks that was an illegal move:

If you're like me, you were probably wondering "Aren't head spikes illegal?" And yep, according to both the UFC and New Jersey, "spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck" is listed as a foul. I think we all agree that face plant definitely could have caused the neck trauma that this rule was meant to prevent, but most people have squared things away by saying Pellegrino was escaping a submission, this ain't [insert pussy sport here], and if you put yourself into that kind of position, you better expect to get what's coming to you.

With most of my jits drama tied up with the Palhares situation, I don't have a super strong opinion on this one. But it seems pretty clear to me that the rules say ‘no spiking', not ‘no spiking when'. As easily as you can argue that Camoes shouldn't have put himself into that position if he didn't want to be spiked, you could argue that he only stayed there because he assumed Pellegrino was going to follow the fucking rules and not spike him. Those saying Camoes could have let go of the sub to avoid being spiked - does this mean we can now foul attacking opponents any time and it's their fault for not stopping the foul?

Personally I think Fightlinker is making a bit much of nothing here. I think the kinds of spikes that are banned are those where the spiking fighter has full control of his opponent which was not the case with Pellegrino whose opponent had his back. Gif of this one in the full entry too.

UPDATE: Nik Lembo of the NJSACB writes to clarify why the Pellegrino slam was legal by sending along the specific rule:

Spiking the opponent to the canvas onto the head or neck (pile-driving)

A pile driver is considered to be any throw where you control your opponent's body placing his feet straight up in the air with his head straight down and then forcibly drive your opponent's head into the canvas or flooring material.

It should be noted that when a fighter is placed into a submission hold by their opponent, if that fighter is capable of elevating their opponent they may bring that opponent down in any fashion they desire because they are not in control of their opponents body. The fighter who is attempting the submission can either adjust their position, or let go of the hold before being slammed to the canvas.

Perfect. Thanks to Mr. Lembo for writing in and straightening that out. The rule is perfect IMO as well.

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Palhares gif via  MMATKO.com. Pellegrino gif via the UG.

Cofield tracked down the other fights where Palhares held onto submissions too long: 

The New Jersey Athletic Control Board reviewed past incidents against Flavio Luiz Moura (4:35 mark) and Helio Dipp (2:00 mark).



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