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‘Absolutely disgusting’, MMA pioneer Zuluzinho suffers face-plant KO after bizarre referee stand up

A referee broke-up Zuluzinho’s Americana hold during a fight in Russia this weekend.

Zuluzinho securing an americana at AMC Fight Nights 114.
Zuluzinho securing an americana at AMC Fight Nights 114.
Caposa/Twitter

Pride veteran Zuluzinho featured in the main event of AMC Fight Nights 114 last night in Minsk, Belarus. The Brazilian heavyweight was taking on local favourite Petr Romankevich. And it seemed like Zuluzinho was about to score a big win when something bizarre happened.

The hefty Zuluzinho (who has slimmed down since the early 2000s) had managed to trap Romankevich underneath him late in round one. From full mount, which Romankevich seemed to have zero chance of escaping, Zuluzinho patiently set-up an americana on his opponent’s left arm.

With Zuluzinho set to crank the arm, which surely would have forced either a tap or snap (and then a win), the referee broke up the action and ordered both fighters to their feet. Zuluzinho seemed totally bemused by the situation.

As soon as they were standing Romankevich clocked Zuluzinho with a headkick, punches and a knee to elicit a devastating face-plant KO.

Here’s video of that sequence, shared by Showtime’s Shakiel Mahjouri, who branded the action “absolutely disgusting”.

Condemnation of the sequence was widespread across social media last night, with some calling foulplay and suggesting Zuluzinho was the victim of a fix.

It does seem that the promotion AMC Fight Nights is to blame for this incident. However, that’s because they recently changed their rules to allow this exact situation to play out.

Twitter user AlreadyDemon shared a passage from a wmmaa.org article, posted in March, where AMC Fight Nights President Kamil Hajiyev explained how his organization would now be penalizing ground fighters.

“From now on, in AMC Fight Nights, from the moment when the athletes were on the ground, the judges count exactly one minute,” said Hajiyev. “And after one minute, at the command of the timekeeper, the referee raises the athletes to the rack. It doesn’t matter what happens at that moment – a bright finishing move, a painful hold, or something else. The minute ended, and the one who was in a dominant position did not use his chance, and the one who was not in it simply survived and used his chance to save. Therefore, a minute – and the parterre is completed. I hope that the new rules will refresh Russian MMA.”

The scary KO loss moved Zuluzinho’s pro MMA record to 14-11 (1 NC). He came to prominence in 2005 with appearances in Pride FC.

In Pride he famously lost to Fedor Emelianenko, Minotauro Nogueira and Butterbean (by americana).

Since then he’s fought mostly in Brazil and Serbia. The loss to Romankevich was his second appearance at AMC Fight Nights. His promotional debut was a decision loss to Yusup Shuaev in February, a month before the stand-up rule was instituted.