All sports have villains, some being worse than others; World Series of Fighting has definitely found theirs. WSOF President Ray Sefo announced on Monday that Welterweight champion, Rousimar Palhares, will not only be suspended indefinitely, he will also be stripped of his Welterweight belt for illegal eye gouging and extending a kimura for too long after his opponent, Jake Shields, tapped at WSOF 22 last Saturday. The ruling should come as no surprise to anyone who caught WSOF main event. Time and time again Palhares threw open handed punches which resulted in gouging Shields’ eyes. Even after being warned by referee Steve Mazzagatti, the barbaric eye gouging continued.
Rousimar Palhares has a reputation as a dirty fighter. No one should/can dispute that statement. Not only was the 35 year old Team Nogueira fighter kicked out of the UFC in 2013 for holding onto a heel hook until the referee intervened, but in almost every fight Palhares has forced a submission, you can watch him intentionally extend it to inflict pain or damage upon his opponent. Multiple MMA fighters, such as Joe Lauzon, have called Palhares a dirty fighter, and some are going as far as calling for a lifetime ban on the Brazilian for his lack of safety and respect.
Like many fans of MMA, I am all for a brutal KO or a great submission. The fast pace, aggressiveness, and excitement of Mixed Martial Arts are what drew me away from the dying breed that is Boxing and into the world of MMA. Being a competitor in this sport can lead to a tough and painful life for those at the professional level. Injuries happen far too often, but should never occur due to lack of concern or safety during a sanctioned match.
In my opinion, dirty fighters have no place in MMA. You know, the type of fighters who intentionally take cheap shots at their opponents to get an edge, the fighters who dig their submissions in after the bell or after the fight should be stopped. Trying to hurt opponents to the point of causing a severe career ending injury (as Palhares could have easily done due to extended kimora) is unnecessary. Mixed Martial Arts is already portrayed as a “bloodsport” by many who are ignorant about the sport. Former Presidential candidate John McCain went so far as to call it “Human Cockfighting”. What I watched Saturday left a very bad taste in my mouth. Instances like this only fuel the fire of conservatives who don’t understand that these fighters are legitimate athletes, and not just guys walking off the street looking to pummel someone for a few hundred dollars. The sheer toughness, grit, and work ethic of these fighters, along with the amount of training these athletes endure should be respected; Especially amongst each other.
MMA-Freak reached out to Palhares manager, Alex Davis about the incident. No response has been issued as of yet.