Stripped WSOF Champ Rousimar Palhares suspended two years by NAC over held submission on Jake Shields

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Rousimar Palhares has been suspended for two years and fined $40,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct over his latest held submission, this time against Jake Shields at WSOF 22 in August.

Palhares appeared via Skype for the disciplinary hearing on Thursday with the Nevada Athletic Commission, alongside his manager Alex Davis but without legal representation. During the hearing, Palhares claimed that he thought referee Steve Mazzagatti’s attempts to get him to break the kimura hold on that card were actually Shields kneeing him in the back, and he maintained his innocence throughout. However, Mazzagatti and WSOF President Ray Sefo both testified negatively against him, as did referee “Big” John McCarthy when called by Davis as an expert witness.

It seemed an even more severe punishment was heading his way than that eventually levied, but the commission members sided on a lower number than they could have, citing lack of precedent for an unsportsmanlike conduct issue. Palhares is now likely to be cut by the World Series of Fighting, with the organization already stripping him of the belt and suspending him pending this hearing.

After the hearing, Palhares released a statement of disagreement via Guilherme Cruz at

“I appeared in front of the commission today to tell the truth and take the responsibilities for my acts. I thank the commission for opening an exception and allowing me the opportunity to participate on the hearing via Skype. I know all the complications that it has caused, but I once again thank them for understanding my current condition.

“Yet, I don’t agree with the punishment, both the suspension and the fine. Many untruths were said. They didn’t take in consideration the obvious mistake committed by referee Steve Mazzagatti, who was in an inadequate position at the moment of the submission. If the referee was in the correct position, maybe none of this would have happened.

“Unfortunately, I will have to obey this unfair decision, fulfilling my suspension and paying the fine. I’ll reflect about everything that happened and, together with my manager Alex Davis, I will make the best decision for the continuation of my career.”

Penick’s Analysis: It seems the commission got a little gun-shy after the outcry over the Nick Diaz ruling, which seems destined to be culled significantly from the five years they handed down. Palhares’ statement is continued ridiculousness from him, with an absolutely asinine level of obliviousness to his own actions. There was plenty to complain about regarding Mazzagatti’s work as referee in that fight, but, if anything, further scrutiny on Mazzagatti’s work in that fight would have looked worse for Palhares, as they didn’t even really address the eye gouging that took place during the bout. A two year suspension is appropriate given how often this happens from Palhares, and he’s lucky in this case it wasn’t longer.

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