During the UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami prelims, fans were treated to what seemed like an inept, if hilarious, move by Brazilian middleweight Rousimar Palhares.
After kicking Dan Miller in the head and knocking him flat on his back, “Toquinho” started punching his grounded opponent repeatedly. Miller was helplessly covered up, and Herb Dean looked ready to stop the fight.
Palhares walked away—hands in the air in total elation of his latest win, and jumped on the fence.
Only there was a problem: Herb Dean never stopped the fight. He dragged Palhares down from the fence and restarted the fight again. In the confusion, Miller lands a left and nearly stops Palhares!
Unfortunately for Miller, that was the closest he got to winning the fight. It went the distance, but not before Palhares established his dominance time and again.
So what caused all this confusion? Did Palhares try to referee his own fight? Is he an idiot?
Or is Rousimar Palhares simply misunderstood?
Let’s examine a few facts and attempt to draw some conclusions.
Just by glancing at his record, viewers would know that Palhares has had trouble with refereeing in the past.
At UFC 111, Palhares placed a heel hook on Tomasz Drwal and cranked the submission. Drwal tapped as the referee moved in to separate the two, but by then it was too late: Drwal was writhing in pain on the ground, obviously in deep hurt.
Palhares was suspended for 90 days by the New Jersey athletic commission for failure to let go of the hold.
Palhares claims that he did not feel the tap, and did not let go until the referee stopped the fight. To his credit, we know the latter is true. Also to his credit, Frank Mir held his kneebar submission on Brock Lesnar far longer than Palhares did Drwal.
Mir and Palhares held on to the submissions until the referee stopped them. It was only because Drwal was hurt that Palhares was punished.
In his next fight, Palhares would take on Nate “The Great” Marquardt.
Both fighters were tentative in the early going, but were soon rolling for dominant position on the ground. Palhares tried to secure a heel hook (his signature move, mind you), when Marquardt pulled free.
Palhares looked at the ref and pointed to Marquardt, only to be punched in the face by “The Great” and was soon stopped by TKO.
After the fight, it was revealed that Palhares tried to communicate to the ref that he thought Marquardt’s legs were greased. After a quick inspection, Marquardt was found innocent.
Judging by the big smile on his face, you wouldn’t have known “Toquinho” was temporarily forced from his senses minutes earlier.
Poor Palhares. He tried to call for time out, and got beat up instead. After this second incident, we have to ask ourselves: Does this guy actually know any better?
This all brings us to the latest incident with Dan Miller at UFC 134: Rio.
After the fight, Palhares claimed that Dan Miller was yelling “stop!” repeatedly; it was after this that Palhares walked away in “victory.”
If this is the case, then Dan Miller verbally submitted. The only problem is the ref didn’t hear it. We can now justify some of Palhares' thinking—he didn’t want to continue hurting the person if they’d already submitted. The last time he’d continued when his opponent tapped out, he got in trouble for it.
Then again, Dan Miller claims to not have yelled “stop.” Palhares punched him a few times, declared the fight was over, then walked away with his arms raised. In short, he tried to “referee” his own fight, just like the Marquardt incident.
Either scenario is possible. If the former is true, then Palhares is just a victim of circumstance, as his trainer claims. It would also suggest that, judging from the frequency of his misunderstandings, the man is not the sharpest tool in the shed (but he means well).
If the latter is true, it would also suggest that Palhares isn’t terribly bright, and looks to constantly tip things in his favor.
One thing is for sure, though: both Miller and Palhares disagree on the “stoppage” of the first round. Palhares says Miller quit. Miller says he didn’t.
Only Dan and Rousimar know what was actually said or not between them. Until egos drop and one of them confesses what actually happened, we can only speculate.