LAS VEGAS -- Rousimar Palhares did it again. After submitting Jake Shields with a brilliant sequence in the third round of his World Series of Fighting 22 main event bout, the WSOF welterweight champion continued to crank the kimura he held on Shields, even after Shields tapped.
It isn't the first time for Palhares. The 35-year-old Brazilian has a history of similar incidents, from his 2010 suspension-drawing heel hook of Tomasz Drwal to the 2013 heel hook of Mike Pierce that cost Palhares his job in the UFC. The controversy behind Palhares became a main conversation point in the lead-up to his meeting with Shields, and Shields was livid following the bout, calling Palhares "a dirty, dirty fighter" for the late crank plus a series of eye gouges midway through the second round.
"He gouged my eyes eight times," Shields fumed. "He kept putting his fingers in my eyes. He is a dirty, dirty fighter.
"It was a joke. The ref should have DQ'd him."
The controversies marred what was an otherwise compelling bout, as Shields did what no other fighter in WSOF has been able to do by fending off Palhares' vaunted leglock arsenal. Shields spent much of the first round working from top position, then repeated the strategy in the second, taking Palhares down and advancing into mount. That's when Shields started complaining about Palhares eye gouging, ultimately forcing referee Steve Mazzagatti to warn Palhares.
Shields caught a leg kick to take the fight back to the floor to start the third, but in a beautiful sequence, Palhares reversed the takedown directly into a nasty kimura. Shields tapped frantically however Palhares continued to crank, leading a frustrated Shields to throw a shot at Palhares as Mazzagatti intervened. The official time of the stoppage came at 2:02 of the third round.
"I feel some oil on his body. After I work, I made the submission. This is an important victory," Palhares said through a translator.
In the night's co-main event, Marlon Moraes (14-4-1) only needed one small opening to topple Sheymon Moraes (7-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten and defend his WSOF bantamweight title. But this time around, the path to victory wasn't so easy.
Sheymon left the champion's ribs a bright shade of red, unloading a procession of sharp body shots throughout the stand-up fight. Marlon returned fire with leg kicks and straight counters, and in the opening minutes of the second round dropped Sheymon with a blistering left-right combination. Sheymon survived the ensuing swarm, but wasn't so lucky once the fight hit the third.
Midway through an exchange, Marlon caught Sheymon flush with a huge left hook that spun the challenger around then dropped him to a knee. Marlon pounced on his wounded prey and looked to lock in a rear-naked choke after Sheymon gave up his back. Sheymon valiantly defended the first attempt, but a second try was enough to coax the tapout at 3:46 of the third round.
Elsewhere on the card, fighting on short notice did little to slow the momentum of Clifford Starks (12-2). The veteran light heavyweight, who earlier this week replaced Thiago Silva after the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to license Silva without first having a hearing due to a 2011 falsified urine sample, rode his wrestling to capture an efficient, if slow, unanimous decision over Mike Kyle (21-13-1).
The WSOF debut of Abubaker Nurmagomedov (10-1) may not have come with a finish, but it was a dominant introduction nonetheless. Nurmagomedov, the younger brother of UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, rag-dolled Jorge Moreno (4-2) for the better part of three rounds, seemingly taking Moreno down at will and threatening with rear-naked chokes countless times throughout the lopsided contest.
Just like his brother, Nurmagomedov has a background in sambo and it showed. The Dagestani welterweight stormed out from the opening bell, hoisted Moreno into the air, then slammed him onto the mat. Moreno worked back to his feet but quickly returned to the floor after eating a salvo of punches and a nasty flying knee.
From there he and Nurmagomedov were effectively joined at the hip for a majority of the fight, as Nurmagomedov stayed locked to Moreno's back and fought repeatedly for chokes, dragging him back to the floor when needed and unloading punches in bursts when the action slowed, ultimately sweeping the scorecards with a pair of 30-26s and one 30-27.
That wasn't the end of the Dagestani domination though. In the night's opening bout, Nurmagomedov's lightweight countryman Islam Mamedov (12-1) added another impressive victory to his WSOF ledger, dispatching Jimmy Spicuzza (6-3) with a volley of unanswered punches midway through the bout's first round.
Mamedov seized a single leg early, then took Spicuzza's back and went to work with shots to the head, while Khabib Nurmagomedov barked orders from his corner. Referee Chris Tognoni finally stepped in with 13 seconds remaining in the round, giving Mamedov his second first-round finish in as many WSOF appearances and 11th straight win overall.