Fight Night 22 gave us a main event fight to remember between Rousimar Palhares and Nate Marquardt. It was memorable not only for the speed in which Marquardt demolished the Leg-Lock king, but also for the strange behavior from Palhares which gave that fraction of a second advantage Nate needed to finish his opponent.
MW Contender Hopes Dashed
Marquardt was coming off of a tough loss to Chael Sonnen. Many knowledgeable observers opine that Marquardt would have won the bout if it was a five round match, as Marquardt had turned the tables and Sonnen was looking beat up and gassed--but Sonnen managed take Marquardt out of his game plan, and defeat him with take-downs and ground and pound. This was a critical loss for Marquardt, who very likely would have earned another crack at the champ Anderson Silva. had he defeated Sonnen. Losing to Palhares would have been another big step down in the rankings for Marquardt, so much was at stake in this match-up.
A Win With A 90 Day Suspension
Rousimar Palhares was coming off of a 90 day suspension for holding onto a heel-hook after his opponent frantically was tapping, and he left Tomasz Drwal screaming in agony. Palhares has won 5 of his 11 victories via a heel-hook, so his attempting this submission came as no surprise to Marquardt. Prior to his loss at Fight Night 22, Palhares had strung together an impressive record of 4 and 1 in the UFC (losing to Dan Henderson) and 11 and 2 in his overall career.MMA
There Is More To MMA Than Heel Hooks
Nothing much happened for the first two minutes of the fight, as Marquardt kept his hands low--trying to keep the fight standing, and Palhares stalked Marquardt, obviously looking for the take-down. At 2:27 of the 1st round, Palhares made a wild rush, swinging with both hands, and eating a couple of shots, creating a mad scramble as Nate retreated swinging. Palhares quickly dropped and grabbed one of Marquardt's legs, as Nate sprawled while striking Palhares.
Palhares persisted with the single leg, and managed to bring Marquardt down as Nate tried a reverse triangle. (notably putting his calf on Palhares greased face) During the ensuing scramble, Palhares ended up in North-South position, and after trying a choke, he stood up and went for a heel-hook/ankle lock. In a flash, Marquardt rolled and pulled his leg out of danger, stood quickly and turned to face Palhares lying flat on his back after the failed heel hook attempt.
A Time To Whine And A Time To Fight
What happened next defies belief. Instead of defending himself or trying to get to his feet, Palhares, shocked that his bread-and-butter heel-hook failed, smiled looking away from Marquardt while pointing to complain to the referee that Marquardt's leg was greased--leaving him wide-open for a crucial second. Marquardt did not hesitate, and smashed a powerful right hand into Palhares jaw--then he followed this up with 17 rapid-fire unanswered shots to Palhares head with both hands--ending the fight decisively. What is so amazing is that a fighter has managed to rise so high in the UFC and was still able to commit one of the most amateur gaffes seen in the promotion.
False Accusations Could Lead To A Short Career For Palhares
Nate Marquardt admitted that he was very warmed up prior to the fight, in order to work up a sweat--which is smart when going in the octagon with a BJJ artist. He was checked before and after the bout by the referee and officials who flatly said no grease was found. Palhares later apologized.
Dana White cannot be happy with a fighter who cries "cheat" in the middle of his main event aired in front of millions of viewers. Whether Palhares realizes it or not, Joe Silva might be putting a big X across his name very soon.
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