Lesson of the day: lacking empathy and ethics can only make most people doubt you. But all it takes is one.
You may remember Rousimar Palhares – he’s the fighter who in October was released from the UFC following a win over Mike Pierce. How does one get released after a win? It’s easy. Lock in a heel hook, hold the lock even after the tap and further hold it as the referee dives on you to break the lock.
Just the same way that any other professional sports league operates, athletes with character issues need only one employer to get a job. How long they last in that job is their choice and in the case of Palhares, his stint in the UFC didn’t last because of bad choices. New life may await elsewhere.
MMAJunkie.com spoke with World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo regarding that promotions’ stance on Palhares and he had this to say:
“Initially, I’ll admit I didn’t think World Series of Fighting should even entertain the idea of bring Palhares on board. But I’ve been speaking with our team, as well as some people I trust throughout the industry, and I’m not so sure he doesn’t deserve another chance.
“We haven’t made any concrete decisions just yet, but I think maybe Palhares could be a valuable part of our organization.”
Got it. So in a sport rife with dangers to its competitors – which can leave fighters with damage to virtually every inch of their bodies – a man with a history of erratic behavior that has harmed his opponents (and according to former training coaches, teammates) in both borderline and illegal fashion is ‘valuable’ and deserving of another chance.
Paging capitalists: when money is involved, everyone is valuable.
What is alarming about Palhares history is not only his actions towards opponents but his bizarre actions in general. Against Nate Marquardt, he tried to lock in a heel hook and after his opponent slipped out of it, while prone on his back, he turned to the referee to complain and was promptly knocked out. Later against Dan Miller, after knocking Miller down, he inexplicably stopped fighting and leaped onto the cage to celebrate – though the fight had not been awarded to him by stoppage or tap out.
Despite all this, Sefo apparently was swayed by comments made by MMA legend, Renzo Gracie.
“I really didn’t think he held it too long,” Gracie said. “You have to understand, especially heel hooks, it is a finishing hold that you can lose at any time. He can lose the position at any time, and the next thing you’ll see the guy is going to claim that he didn’t tap and everything is gone. So he really needs to add intensity on it. Unfortunately, people saw it with poor eyes.
Those comments, though, do not reconcile how such a controversy can be amended after the fact.It does not reconcile how Palhares should have been paying attention to Pierce for the tap, he should have been paying attention to the referee for the call and should have been acutely aware of a second human being throwing them self on him. There is no excuse while driving to not notice oncoming cars and pedestrians should you choose to barrel through a yellow light while driving so how in the world can Palhares be excused for being aware of actions happening inches in front of him?
The situation with WSOF is made worse since Sefo admitted in the interview to being “…a little outraged at first.” after the incident.He also doesn;t think Palhares is a “…bad human bring.”
Being a bad human being is a loaded idea just as the same as anyone being a perfect human being is. The facts are Palhares may not be a bad human being but he can still be an idiot without much regard for the safety of his training partners of competitors. That doesn’t take being a bad human being so much as having a frame of mind that MMA fighters know the risks of their jobs and inherit them. If you approach a fight that way, you’ll go through a wall to win a fight – though you needn’t have to.
The dangers of MMA are extreme enough. A person who themselves is willing to exacerbate those extremes should not be fighting anywhere – no matter how much money they can someone.
The UFC has some work to do.
An impressive article by Dave Meltzer at MMAFighting.com reveals the latest pay-per-view numbers (the essential lifeblood of the promotion a la TV-revenue for NFL games) are quite disappointing.
Recent studies show certain factors result in improved PPV drawing power. Factors such as a higher weight class, well-known fighters, grudge match, rematch, etc. often determine how well a card can draw. In a bubble these factors are a great barometer. When applied to outside factors, they can shrink in influence.
Despite the two recent cards being headlined by title fights at the two heaviest weight classes – one anchored by a formidable draw of Jon Jones, who has never drawn fewer than 400,000 PPV buys – early estimates are that neither card will top 325,000 buys. This summer, Anderson Silva v. Chris Weidman topped 525,000 buys.
Meltzer breaks down the many factors that contributed to the disappointing draws.
Jones fighting a low-profile fighter in Alexander Gustaffson (who is likely more well-known now) could have contributed. There was little to no bad blood. Few experts even expected Gustaffson to be much of a challenge. More damaging was the show was a week after Floyd Mayweather Jr. v. Canelo Alvarez boxing match which drew 2.2 million buys, the second biggest of all-time. Call it a hangover.
In the case of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, the lower numbers are very curious. A trilogy fight between two of the best heavyweights in the sport’s history would surely be a monster draw – the fight was enough to sell out Houston’s Toyota Center which did the third-largest gate in the building’s history.
It appears that being wedged firmly beside the World Series playoffs, college football (prime time meetings between Clemson v. Florida State, USC v. Notre Dame, Arkansas v. Alabama), and HBO boxing could have put a dent in its audience. If that is the case, the UFC is still fighting for mainstream relevance in the marketplace. It’s a battle they are consistently making headway in, but not winning any decisive battles.
Meltzer makes another key point: the first time American audiences on mass saw Velasquez v. Dos Santos was when nine million tuned in for their first fight on Fox. That fight barely lasted a swig of beer before Velasquez was out on the mat. First impressions can last.
Outside of the PPV’s, the recent Fox card was also disappointing. Drawing only 122,000 viewers, it signaled the second lowest draw of the five Fox Sports 2 (and before it, Fuel) cards has broadcast. This in spit of a headliner fight between Lyota Machida v. Mark Munoz – easily the most attractive on paper when compared to the other five cards.
Meltzer goes on to point out it was not isolated to the UFC alone. The World Series of FIghting card that Saturday on NBC Sports drew 161,000 viewers (the lowest of its promotion to date) and Bellator on Spike the evening before did 520,000, its lowest this year as well. It appeared to be a bad weekend for MMA all around.
The UFC expects the upcoming 167 and 168 cards are each expected to top five million live gates, a figure the company has only hit six times in its history. Let’s hope they draw similarly on PPV, or this could be signalling a stagnating mark for the sport.