UFC: The Rousimar Palhares Release Gets It Right

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

Oct 9, 2013; Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Rousimar Palhares reacts after defeating Mike Pierce (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Jose Correa Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the thing about heel hooks: they don't really hurt that much. Until they do. Boy do they hurt then.

Don't think so? David Avellan can tell you.

Never felt the move yourself? Check in with Mike Pierce. He has.

Looking for a description of being crippled by one? Ask Tomasz Drwal.

Wondering what it's like to ruthlessly harm someone with one? Rousimar Palhares is the man to go to.

That is, former UFC welterweight Rousimar Palhares. The same guy who won a fight in half a minute last week and still found himself in the unemployment line before the weekend because of his commitment to tearing people's legs apart.

This isn't about Palhares, though. Plenty of people have already exacted their pound of flesh from the Brazilian, regardless of how fair or unfair it's been to do so.

This is about the UFC doing something commendable.

The promotion catches plenty of heat about its stance on various disciplinary issues like PEDs, testosterone replacement theory, drugs of leisure and social media etiquette. But this time, in showing Palhares the door, they got it right.

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The release is a beautiful example of precedent, both past and future.

In the past, the promotion has released fighters for holding submissions too long. Renato Sobral, a popular and talented light heavyweight, was dropped from the roster in 2007 for trying to teach his opponent a "lesson" by holding a choke after a tap.

That can literally kill someone, and as much as we all like to see a mouthpiece get his comeuppance, few people would want to see one dead for wearing a stupid shirt.

In Palhares, the UFC went back to the well and terminated the deal of a guy who took a similar path. This time, it was a guy who had a long history of trying to damage opponents beyond the scope of the sport and had been suspended in the past for such conduct.

It was a harsh, but entirely fair punishment that had history backing it up.

The UFC is desperately trying to legitimize itself, to gain mainstream acceptance. One of the hallmarks of mainstream sports leagues in recent years has been the ability to hand out punishments that get people talking.

Steroids in baseball.

Checks to the head in hockey.

About half of the things that used to be legal ten years ago in football.

The governing bodies dole out the punishments and the perpetrators pay the price while the world talks about it.

On a smaller level, mostly because the majority of people don't know or care who Palhares is outside of the MMA bubble, that's exactly what the UFC did here. And they got it right.

Right, interestingly enough, at the perfect time for ESPN to come along and ask questions about the situation, to which Dana White had the ideal response: The guy is done with us because we're tough on degenerates in this sport.

How impressive would that be to the layperson watching, perhaps after another wishy-washy Roger Goodell or Bud Selig interview?

Pretty impressive.

The Palhares release is about as good as it gets for the UFC in terms of disciplinary action. It was swift, it was founded on an established ideal and it was largely received positively.

If this is a sign of things to come for the promotion going forward, MMA is fixing for a serious cleaning.