The Nevada Athletic Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend former World Series of Fighting welterweight champion Rousimar Palhares for two years due to unsportsmanlike conduct in his WSOF 22 victory over Jake Shields.
Palhares was also fined $40,000 of his fight purse, plus court fees. The suspension is retroactive to Aug. 1.
Palhares, 35, defeated Shields via third-round submission in a foul laden contest that saw the Brazilian gouge Shields' eyes several times, then crank his fight-ending kimura for several ticks after Shields tapped. Palhares was subsequently stripped off his WSOF welterweight title and suspended indefinitely by promotion officials.
Palhares and manager Alex Davis appeared before the NAC without legal representation on Thursday via Skype call. The focus of the hearing was on Palhares' history of late cranks, and neither Palhares nor Davis denied any of the commission's allegations.
Palhares still maintained his innocence, however, claiming that he could not see referee Steve Mazzagatti and was not aware of Shields or Mazzagatti tapping to stop the fight. Palhares also claimed he believed Shields' taps to be his opponent actually kneeing him in the back.
Both Mazzagatti and WSOF president Ray Sefo testified their belief that Palhares' actions constituted unsportsmanlike conduct. Veteran referee John McCarthy echoed that sentiment after being called to the stand as a surprise expert witness by Davis.
Nevada deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles urged the commission to take a strong stance against Palhares, however commissioner Pat Lundvall cited a lack of precedence for the issue in Nevada as cause against recommending the most severe punishment.
For Palhares, the two-year suspension marks a continuation of a pattern that has followed the veteran throughout his fighting and grappling career. Palhares drew a suspension in 2010 for a similar late crank on Tomasz Drwal, then lost his job in the UFC for an even worse incident against Mike Pierce.
He also tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2012, and of his other two WSOF fights, both ended in minor controversy due to questionable late cranks.
Palhares (18-6) is one of the most talented submission artists in the welterweight division, but his repeated issues have tarnished his reputation to the point where his future among the top-tier of the sport will now be put on hold. He will be 37 years old when eligible to return to competition.