UFC Releasing Rousimar Palhares Following Controversial Submission Finish of Mike Pierce

October 10, 2013
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Rousimar Palhares UFC on Versus 3Rousimar Palhares came under heavy scrutiny following his 31-second heel hook victory over Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields on Wednesday night in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

And now, he finds himself without a job.

The fight was brief, but when Palhares submitted Pierce, it appeared that he held onto the heel hook well beyond the point that Pierce tapped out and even beyond the point that the referee stepped in to stop the action.

Palhares on Thursday, despite the outcries, said that there was no intent to injure Pierce.

“I never meant to hurt anyone, as a jiu-jitsu fighter I always seek for the submission, but I would never be evil to any athlete,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I always respect the @ufc decisions, but most of most I respect a lot Mike Pierce, so again I never meant to hurt him, just finish the fight.”

That won’t stop UFC president Dana White, who was chief among those critical of Palhares’ actions, from firing him.

“This is the second incident with Palhares where he had the lock and he didn’t let go, finally he let it go, but I’m gonna cut him too,” White told Olbermann host Jeremy Schaap in an interview on ESPN2 on Thursday. “He’s done.”

The first incident that White referred to was when Palhares did the same thing, not immediately releasing the hold, when he finished Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111 in Newark, N.J. Palhares was subsequently suspended for 90 days by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.

The Brazilian Athletic Commission (CABMMA) is currently investigating Palhares’ finish at UFC Fight Night 29, but regardless of their findings, White is already handing him his walking papers.

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  • jrcr_15

    Good – He is a professional athlete, he should act like one, and not hold submissions too long and piss hot.

    I am sure he will do well for himself in Bellator..

    • Seth

      You forgot that Bellator said they won’t sign ex-UFC fighters, as they won’t to build their own stars…oh, sorry – I forgot something too. Viacom MMA is full of s***.

      Please, continue.

      • Dragon Kid

        tell that to Kongo and Lavar Johnson

        • King_DG

          and Rich Clementi, Marcus Davis, Rampage and Tito

    • bajafox

      Funny we’ve all come to assume that all of these guys being dropped are going to get picked up by Bellator, lol

      • jrcr_15

        He’s a great fighter, and exciting to watch. I am a fan of the guy, but people like him hurt the reputation of the sport.

        Good riddance Paul-Harris lol, I would be willing to bet that he will be in Bellator in a years time.

        • bajafox

          I wouldn’t mind seeing him at 170 in Bellator. They have a decent roster at 170

        • Jay Magallon

          He’ll be fighting extremely soon I’m sure. The question is, who’s going to want to sign that contract to fight him outside of the UFC? He’s already proven he lets go of holds when he wants. F that.

  • james j

    Royce Gracie was infamous for holding submission moves after the tap. He did it practically on all his wins.

    • bajafox

      That was another time, he also had to fight for up to 30 mins in one fight of a tournament. You could punch people in the nuts back then

      Bad comparison

    • toom

      Dude royce gracie is way worse he would be like oh ya tapped guess that means break it

      • james j

        I am not sure how it is a bad comparison. Royce would put the clamps on fighters who were untrained in ground fighting, they would tap, and he just kept squeezing.

        I used to train in ground fighting in the 90s, and I remember that was always brought up as the jerk thing not to do.

        Glad Dana cut this guy.

        • toom

          I didn’t say it was a bad comparison I’m on your side bud there both pretty messed up

  • El Gvapo

    I’ve just watched the incident for the first time and to be honest, I was expecting it to be much worse than it appeared to be. I’ve always liked Palhares and I’d like to be one of the few to stick up for him. I’m not that familiar with BJJ and enjoy seeing the more unusual submissions other than a RNC or guillotine etc., hence why I like watching him.

    Now after watching the incident a few times, it looked to me like as Palhares wrenched the hold, he turned his face to the mat. The initial tap from Pierce looked as light as a feather and I’d question whether Palhares even felt it until he tapped more frantically the second time. There’s even a time lapse on you tube that shows it was just over a second from the initial tap to the release of the hold.

    But I guess at the end of the day only Palhares knows what his intentions were, as in any other pro sport. And I think the Drwal incident was far worse than this by the way.

    • Advance*

      Before Anik commented on it after a replay, I said to myself damn Palhares held onto that too long. As you can tell by the fallout that happened after the event and today, the vast majority of people had that same exact thought. So you can slow it down and try to put yourself in Palhares’ position all you want, but the fact is that fans, fighters and the bosses all thought he should have released it faster.

      When you factor in that he’s already been suspended for doing the exact same thing in the UFC, he loses the benefit of the doubt. They let him get away with it once and he didn’t learn from his mistake.

    • sdelfin

      I don’t think the taps looked light as a feather. He tapped very early and to tap that fast shows urgency. He tried to save his knee. Heel hooks are devastating. If Palhares could not feel the tap, then he is too dangerous. Pierce tapped so frantically and so clearly that Palhares could have let go immediately and there would have been no dispute about the tap.

  • Fightfankevin

    Royce fought in a totally different UFC. Apples to oranges there. The guy knew he was under scrutiny, he should have been fully aware there would be consequences. Dana made the right call.

  • El Gvapo

    Also. I’d be curious to know Dana’s, and indeed any of you on here who participate in MMA, thoughts about the difference between holding a submission for a second longer than you should and those fighters who continue to punch fighters after they are clearly knocked out. In my mind, what Hendo did to Bisping was far worse than this, and there’s been several other similar incidents to that one. In my opinion, that seems far more dangerous than what Palhares did. Seems pretty harsh for the guy to lose his job over.

    And again, who out there finds taking PEDs a more serious offence than this?

    • Advance*

      Google “Pros react to Shields vs Maia” and you’ll see a bunch of tweets from pro fighters saying he held on too long. I don’t want to link to another website on here. “Love that Paul Harris didn’t get SOTN. Trying to ruin a mans lively hood.” — TJ Grant. “That was crap! When someone is clearly tapping and the ref can’t even pull him off Dana need for fine Palhares to…” — Ben Askren. That’s just a couple examples.

      • El Gvapo

        Yeah his previous doesn’t do him any favours. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be that guy who goes against the grain of popular opinion just for the sake of it, but I did expect it to look worse than it did. And I appreciate the pros opinions carry more weight than any fans, but I just can’t help feeling a tad sorry for the dude. However, I do stand by what I said about continuing to punch an opponent after they are clearly unconscious to me seems much worse, yet it’s barely mentioned, in fact I’ve heard it praised by Rogan as being killer instinct. With all the recent press around the dangers around concussions in pro sport, surely that is worse than a submission held for a second longer than it should be? Again, I’m not trying to be a d*ck about this like some I’ve read on previous posts.

    • sdelfin

      It took me a few views of the video to take it all in. Not all submissions are created equal. Heel hooks shred knees and, unlike other subs, the damage gets done before the pain. Duration is less important here than the fact that he cranked twice, once after the ref got in there. Pierce started tapping very early to try to save his knee.

      • El Gvapo

        Thanks for the input. So I assume by your comments that any joint/bone submission (ie armbar etc) has more propensity to damage than a choke? But tell me this, when Pettis fought Bendo, you could see the point when Bendo verbally submitted and it was a good 0.5 second at least before Pettis released.

        • El Gvapo

          I know it’s not the best example too, just the first I could think of!

        • sdelfin

          I should add, I’ve considered myself a Palhares fan in the past. He’s a very good and interesting grappler, but I can’t defend him. Joint submissions are obviously meant to damage if fully applied(see Meisha Tate), but heel hooks are in a different class. Chokes have to be held for longer to cause damage. I did not see Pettis/Bendo so I can’t comment specifically there. In this case, we have a fighter with a history of doing this and that is something to consider.

        • Outcold5

          It has been released that Pettis let go on his own and the ref did not stop it. Also people seem to be missing the point of this ban he held on to the hold and even cranked after the ref stopped the fight. Every one is posting examples of stuff that happend before the ref stopped it.

    • Ed

      The thing is that the particular submission hold Palhares executed was a heel hook which is a very dangerous submission with career ending results. You have a very limited amount of time to react which better be a tap unless you spin out on time, but the submission is usally already locked in if you feel it. The hold is banned in many BJJ tournaments or limited to black belts only. It basically tears your knee apart, and anyone who’s had a knee injury knows how difficult it is to fully recover. If your curious as to how it feels, rotate your knee in one direction and your foot in the opposite direction.

    • Outcold5

      Dan did this before the ref stopped it. A better example would have been Rampage when he knocked out Wand. Rampage punched him 2 more times with the ref trying to pull him off but rampage was not a repeat offender.

      • Ian Price

        He sort of was. Knocked another guy out cold, then reset his jaw as the ref was running for him to stop. Still, not as bad as Palhares.

        • Outcold5

          The ref was still in the process of breaking it up. Palhares cranked it a little more when the ref was on top of him and his opponents had already been tapping for a few seconds.

    • Hendo didn’t hit Bisping after the round or have the ref pull him off, he followed through with the final blow after knocking Bisping on the mat. Should he have waiting to see if he would recover? Holding onto a submission when a fighter tapped and the ref calls the fight is far more serious no matter what kind of submission it is. A choke held on to long can cause brain damage. I’m a Palhares fan in the sense that he trains hard and is talented but I do agree with Dana on his decision. The sport has gone way to far and still gets heat from uneducated people. And it is harsh for him to lose his job but this is not the first incident as it states in the article written by my favorite mma website.

      • Fuzzy

        It takes minutes of hypoxia to induce brain damage. I doubt any fighter is holding onto a choke for the amount of time it takes to induce brain damage.

        • That is true but having a choke held on for even seconds more after a guy is out is still dangerous.

      • MuayThaiFood

        Hendo as much as admitted to it saying the extra shot was for his big mouth, to paraphrase. Did it bother me? Not so much, but don’t try to make it seem like it was innocent.

        • Yes he did admit that but it’s not like he had to be pulled off of him or threw in another shot after the ref called it. Besides Hendo is a laid back type of guy it’s not like he has a history of doing such things. Sorry for defending him.

          • MuayThaiFood

            Well, you can say he didn’t break the rules but you can’t say that taking an extra shot on a guy who’s unconscious is sportsmanlike.

    • Triggerman99

      One second too long? No complaints from me. 3 to 4 seconds too long, after the ref jumps in to stop the fight, and after the guy verbally and physically taps on every surface imaginable, and doing this more than once? Yeah……that’s a bit of a different story. The rule is you fight until the ref stops you. Well, if a fighter is KO’d and the ref doesn’t step in, the fight isn’t technically over yet. If the ref steps in, and you continue to try and crank on the hold and apply pressure for several seconds, you aren’t following the rules, plain and simple.
      Not the same thing as your example at all.

      • Ian Price

        Agreed. I mean, what’s the ref supposed to do, fight with Palhares to get him to release the hold? Good grief!

        • karen meade

          Palhares’d prolly heel hook the ref too.

    • Bryan A

      Well, one thing to take into account here is the dangerousness of the sub. Heel hooks are extremely dangerous, so much so that they aren’t allowed in most jiu jitsu comps taking place below the advanced class. I think a lot of people fail to understand how quickly u can get hurt from this sub. Seriously, 1 sec can mean a completely destroyed knee; torn ACL, MCL, etc. this could potentially end a fighters career. I’ve had reconstructive surgery on my right knee, and orthoscopic surgery on my left, and they definitely effect what I can do on the mat. As far as hendo’s cheap shot, I agree that it is uncalled for, and very dangerous. A concussion will not likely end a fighters career, but it could decrease their quality of life later on. So, both offenses are bad in their own ways, and it depends on the individual’s priorities. Whether they are concerned about their career or their future. I would like to add, however, that fighters are far more likely to suffer brain damage due to “gym wars” and generally hard sparring sessions. My big point is that Hendo didn’t strike after the ref stepped in. It might be a technicality, but he didn’t actually break any rules. Palhares held on even while the ref tried to separate his hands, and he has a history of doing this, in BJJ & MMA .

    • MuayThaiFood

      Yeah, Palhares was suspended for PEDs already.

  • TheCerealKiller

    Anybody wanna rewatch Ronda continue to twist Meisha’s arm beyond 90 degrees of it’s normal limit?

    Another Bellator gain!

    • Outcold5

      Happened before the ref stopped it and Meisha didnt tap.

  • Lucas Freire

    Am I the only who thinks that he can give Askren a run for his belt?

    • Danny boy

      No I think he would walk all over assskin and that’s not a typo I would love to watch a complete d!@k get owned by the how do you say it mentally challenged

    • Shred Man


  • Jay Magallon

    He says he never intended to hurt anyone. What a lie. Who remembers when he held on to the hook on Drwal? And then as the poor guy is screaming in agony holding his knee, Palhares jumps up on the cage and has what I can only describe as a “Hulk Rage” moment.

  • Ian Price

    **** you Palhares. I can’t believe he held on. He’s not even that good. With that sick BJJ he’s maybe top 6-7 at WW. Good riddance

  • Guest

    Good move, i just watched a clip of the last time he did this.. Freakin moron

  • candelario

    Palhares looked great, finishing an opponent that has never been submitted and only recent losses are a split decision lose to koscheck and hendricks…. too bad he’s crazy as hell.

  • I felt bad for Pierce during the replay, he had to literally tell him to “get off of me”…

  • toom

    Exactly that should be the end of conversation but people argue for the sake of arguing

  • MarkDoll

    Palhares always wanted to leave his opponent with a serious injury no matter what then looking at roof prasing his god. such a bitch :))

    • SirT

      It is the opponents responsibility to tap in time and it is the refferees job to jump in, anyone involved with the sport agrees. You hold the sub untill the ref seperates you otherwise you get your win taken away… don’t comment unless you know what you are talking about.

  • BobGyro

    There was nothing wrong with that submission Pierce is just a douchebag puss, lets turn mma into phaggot hockey,… its mma!! people get hurt ….cry babies !!! should give the man a title shot