AUSTIN, Texas – UFC middleweight contender Rousimar Palhares (11-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has a simple explanation for his actions in the main event of Wednesday night's UFC Fight Night 22 card.
He was wrong.
"I'm very sorry for the accusations I made," Palhares told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
). "Nate Marquardt did not cheat in any way, and I'm very sorry to him and his team for my actions in the fight."
Palhares, a submission whiz, has made a career of catching opponents in painful leg locks. But when he tried to secure such a hold on Marquardt, the Colorado resident yanked his limb free almost immediately.
Palhares instantly claimed something was wrong and tried to alert referee Herb Dean to a potential case of greasing, but Marquardt took advantage of his foe's lapse in concentration and pounced with a series of strikes that forced the official to halt the bout just 3 minutes and 28 seconds into the first round.
Palhares' head trainer at Brazilian Top Team, MMA legend Murilo Bustamante, said even if "Toquinho" had been right about the potential greasing, he should have waited until the end of the round to address it.
"He should have never stopped," Bustamante said. "Nate won fair and square and did exactly what he should have. Rousimar knows it's imperative to protect yourself at all times, and he failed to do that."
Palhares' longtime manager, Alex Davis, said that greasing has proved an issue in previous bouts for the middleweight, and in one of the most important fights of his career, the 30-year-old just froze.
"Rousimar has had to deal with opponents greasing before," Davis said. "I truly believe it's turned into a paranoia for him. When Nate's leg slipped out so quickly, Rousimar froze. You could tell he was just thinking, 'Here we go again.'
"But I looked at Nate's legs myself. The commission checked them out, too. There was certainly no grease there. It was our error, and we owe Nate an apology, as well as Greg Jackson and the rest of his coaches and team."
Palhares was understandably disappointed by the result of the fight, and he'll unquestionably be haunted for some time by the split-second decision to look away from his opponent that ultimately led to the end of the fight.
But after dealing with his own challenges of being labeled as a "dirty fighter" following his March win over Tomasz Drwal, Palhares wants to make certain Marquardt's name is never brought up in such discussions.
"I congratulate Nate on his win," Palhares said. "I learned another lesson for my career in the fight, and I apologize to Nate, his team and the UFC for any issues I contributed to.
"Nate is not a dirty fighter, and I was wrong to accuse him of cheating in any way."