Rousimar Palhares continued his winning ways this past weekend (Sat., Dec. 13, 2014) at World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 16, submitting Jon Fitch in the opening round of their welterweight title fight in Sacramento, California (see full results here).
But, in the eyes of many, "Toquinho" returned to his old ways of refusing to release a submission hold promptly after the tap.
Little more than one minute into in the opening frame, Palhares wrapped his stocky limbs around Fitch's leg and proceeded to crank a very tight knee bar that was truly hard to watch (view it here). After Fitch tapped, many felt Rousimar held on to the submission a bit too long after the referee instructed him to let go.
Company president Ray Sefo deemed it "perfectly clean," while Andy Foster -- California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) executive director -- says that anyone watching the fight can't argue that Palhares broke the hold immediately. Nevertheless, despite the fact that he is "mad" at what happened, Foster will not punish "Toquinho."
His words (via MMA Fighting):
"As soon as [the tap] touches you, he should have let it go. He chose to keep it going another few seconds. You can say it's the heat of the moment -- I've heard that too many times from him. I don't think it's enough to punish him or anything. It's real borderline. I'm pretty mad."
Of course, with his history of cranking on heels and knees longer than necessary, Palhares' submissions will always be under the microscope.
In 2010, during his fight against Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111, Palhares refused to let go of the fight-winning heel hook in a timely manner, which resulted in a 90-day suspension from New Jersey State Athletic Commission (NJSAC).
Then in 2013, Palhares openly admitted he failed to release a ligament-tearing heel hook he had on Mike Pierce during their showdown (video here) at UFC Fight Night 29 back on Oct. 9, 2013. It was an offense that ultimately got the crafty Brazilian the boot from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
It's that history that makes his latest transgression hard to ignore, says Foster:
"Was it long? Yeah, it was long. I think if they argued that it wasn't a bit long, then they're kidding themselves or are they not being truthful. Was it beyond reason for anyone else in the world? No. If anyone else in the world did that, we wouldn't be having this conversation. He has a freaking history of this. If the guy taps, he's gotta let him go. That's the game."
In addition, Foster says he had no issues with how the official on duty handled the situation, but would opt to have either Herb Dean or Jon McCarthy referee Palhares' next fight in California. In addition, he would also have a conversation with Palhares and his team prior to the bout.
Seems reasonable, but did Palhares really hold onto the submission a bit too long or is "Toquinho" getting some unfair criticism based on his past issues?