Palhares followed up a head kick knockdown of Dan Miller with several punches on the ground before simply walking away to begin celebrating by jumping on top of the cage thinking the fight was over despite no stoppage from Dean.
Seeing his opponent celebrating, Miller seemed to believe the bout was over as well as he walked back to his corner cursing before his coach, Mike Constantino, alerted him that it was not. Miller charged towards Palhares before Dean stepped in and allowed Palhares to get back in the Octagon, where he was nearly knocked out by Miller on the restart. Palhares would recover and go on to win the fight after a dominant second round and much slower third round.
Palhares’ first mistake happened at UFC on Versus 3 when he lost a perfectly set up heel hook on Nate Marquardt. Palhares protested that Marquardt’s leg was slick but Marquardt quickly took advantage and scored a first-round TKO. Marquardt was inspected after the fight by referee Herb Dean as well as other commission members and was found to have no foreign substances on his legs. Palhares and his camp would later apologize to Marquardt.
Palhares’ coach, former UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante, commented on the bizarre UFC 134 fight on Twitter:
“Just to clarify what happened during Toquinho’s fight… he told me that he stopped because his opponent said ‘stop, stop’ when he was punching him hard. Then, he stopped [hitting] him and thought that the fight was over and went to celebrate. Who can say now that ‘Toko’ isn’t a fair fighter? He is just too naive, but he has a big heart.”
Miller’s coach, Mike Constantino, argued that his fighter said no such thing in an email to Sherdog:
“Dan assures me he did not say a word during that exchange, needless to say that with the loud crowd, the language barrier, the adrenaline rush and every other factor involved — including ‘do not stop until the ref pulls you off’ — I do not believe that Toquinho pulled up because of Dan murmuring ‘stop, stop.’ The fact remains that Dan Miller did not say ‘stop, stop’ — there is no need to argue the toughness and mettle of Dan Miller, however I just have to put the facts on the table after hearing this.”
Constantino added that Miller’s defeated reaction and lack of protest was because he had assumed the fight had been stopped because he could not see what was going on when Palhares walked away.
Having reviewed the fight myself, there is just not enough there to say what definitively happened. While you can hear a voice, you cannot tell what was said or who said it due to the incredible level of crowd noise. In the end, regardless of what was said or not, the fight is not over until the referee stops the bout. Palhares was very fortunate that referee Herb Dean understood it was a misunderstanding because he could have disqualified Palhares for jumping on top of the cage.
Bustamante did not have a problem with the restart but did later say he believed the fight should have been stopped in the second and joked that Palhares had to win the fight twice. Bustamante is no stranger to having to win a fight twice, having been on the receiving end of one of the most controversial calls in MMA history at UFC 37. In that fight, Bustamante forced Matt Lindland to tap due to armbar in the first round but Lindland protested that he did not tap and referee “Big” John McCarthy overturned his own stoppage to restart the fight. Bustamante would go on to tap Lindland a second and final time in the third due to guillotine choke.