While Rousimar Palhares left little doubt in spectators’ minds that he won his preliminary card fight against Tomasz Drwal Saturday night, he did little to assuage talks of MMA’s brutal nature in doing so.
During their fight, Palhares capitalized on a slip by Drwal by snagging his leg and applying a nasty heel hook that forced the fighter to tap immediately. The problem came when Palhares didn’t release the hold at the fighter’s taps; he torqued the hold until the referee finally intervened, halting the fight at 45 seconds of round one and leaving Drwal clutching his knee and moaning in agony.
In a video interview posted on UFC.com, Palhares was apologetic and claims that he held on longer because he couldn’t feel his opponent tapping.
“I didn’t feel that he was tapping,” he said. “I felt that he was pushing my leg. And I held on until the referee stopped the fight because I didn’t want to misunderstand. I didn’t want to hurt him. I was very excited about the fight. I’m really sorry if I hurt him.”
MMAFighting is reporting that, unfortunately for Palhares, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board felt that the apology was not enough to outweigh the damage done to Drwal’s knee and the nature by which it occurred and so they have handed Palhares a 90 day suspension. The length of the suspension is inconsequential; the suspension was given to make a statement and the attached stigma will likely follow Palhares for some time.
Dana White and company put UFC 111 on in Newark, NJ as a ploy to drum up support from New York fans and to ultimately coax skeptical legislators into expediting MMA legalization in the state. Although it is unlikely that Palhares’ intentions were to damage his opponent, it remains to be seen what, if any, effects the gruesome submission will have on the UFC finally breaking into New York.