So fans, another fight weekend is in the books. It was a pretty solid one… just not for ZUFFA, who were inactive prior to the frenetic pace they will keep in April.
But hey, let’s not focus on what didn’t happen…
In the last few days, anyone with a cable TV package stateside could catch talent like Yushin “Thunder” Okami, Alexander Shlemenko, and Marlon Moraes. If you were feel adventurous, you could catch a video stream from the British promotion Cage Warriors, or another from Pacific Extreme Combat in the Philippines.
But probably the biggest name in action this past weekend was fighting Saturday night in the main event of World Series of Fighting 9 in Las Vegas: Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares. Palhares, whose return to MMA was well-anticipated , enjoyed another lightning-fast submission victory, this one by inverted heel hook, to earn the promotion’s welterweight championship. Saturday’s victim, Steve Carl, tapped frantically in submission at 1:09 of round one.
Then came the familiar sight of a referee yelling to break… and then grabbing at Palhares to get him to release the hold.
He released, maybe a second later.
But, Palhares is being held a particularly high standard of safety due to his use of the dangerous move, and his history of failing to release immediately after being instructed to break, following the tap.
MMA Journalist Ariel Helwani probably speaks for a lot of MMA fans when he evinced his frustration about Palhares on Twitter Saturday night:
Not as controversial as the Pierce fight, but I definitely felt like he could have let go right away. Why not let go? Really bothers me.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 30, 2014
For my part, well, maybe I see it a little differently.
A closer look at Palhares’ failure to release the hold and it actually doesn’t look as bad as the case with (Tomasz) Drwal. The fighter is only called to release the hold when the referee signals a halt to the action. It’s great when fighters show exceptional sportsmanship like Anthony Pettis did in releasing his armbar against Benson Henderson earlier this year, but they’re actually not obligated to.
Anyone remember that old Palhares mentor Murilo Bustamante fighting Matt Lindland at UFC 35? Bustamante released Lindland from an armbar when he felt a tap. The ref missed it, the fight continued and Bustamante would be forced to catch Lindland again.
Watch the bout between Palhares and Pierce again — and the difference really isn’t much more than a second.
Is that second enough for a penalty?
Of course, the UFC decided it was. To be fair, “not much more than a second” is a long time when your leg is being cranked. Back then, the referee seemed to need to pry Palhares off his opponent. I was being a little too easy on Palhares there.
But this time, I don’t know guys. It was less than a second. If you watch the highlights posted by Jim Genia yesterday, you’ll see the official’s hands drop onto Palhares’ body and there’s barely time to blink before the hold is released.
This time, we should be talking about another impressive victory, on a pretty fair fight weekend, and not what came after.
Again, let’s not focus on what didn’t happen. Congrats to Palhares, and let’s move on.