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Nate doesn't wait for Palhares in assertive Fight Night victory


Admittedly not all mistakes are as costly as a poorly packed parachute. Still, as blunders go in Rousimar Palhares' business, deciding to stop fighting and start complaining is as foolish as you can get.

"He froze," said Palhares' manager Alex Davis. "That is the correct word."

As his bout with Nate Marquardt heated up during the opening round of a UFC Fight Night main event at the Erwin Events Center in Austin, Texas, Palhares, a powerful middleweight who specializes in house-of-horrors leg locks, snatched one of the American's limbs and fell back, looking for some manner of joint twisting viciousness. Rather than tapping, Marquardt smartly defended and freed himself.

It seemed for a moment as if the escape had come too easy. Palhares (11-3) certainly acted that way. And then the parachute failed to open. Taking his attention off Marquardt (30-9-2), the Brazilian complained in the direction of his corner and referee Herb Dean, whose instructions three-and-a-half minutes earlier were unequivocal in how both fighters were to handle themselves.

Was Marquardt WD-40'd up?

"They checked it before I fought," Marquardt said. "I came out really warm because I wanted a good sweat. I wanted to be slippery. I just saw an opportunity and jumped on it."

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Athletic commission officials at cage-side soon confirmed he wasn't coated in anything he wasn't supposed to be after the fight as well, but it was too late to help Palhares, who literally did nothing but take punches to close out the fight at 3:28 of Round 1.

"He knows he committed an error," Davis said. "He was naive. If he had a complaint he should have waited until the end of the round. The grease was in his mind, not on Marquardt's legs."

At least Palhares hadn't jumped out of a perfectly good aircraft.

Marquardt appeared headed for a tough slog against a man whose Portuguese nickname, "Toquinho," appropriately translates to "tree stump." Returning to the cage for the first time since February, when Chael Sonnen beat on him for 15 minutes, Marquardt needed a victory to keep himself in the mix at 185 pounds. While his 10th loss wouldn't have necessarily crippled his career, it would have undoubtedly made the climb back up the championship ladder longer and thornier. Now he's the beneficiary of one of the more unusual mental lapses in MMA since Shinya Aoki responded with a rear-naked choke last year as David Gardner greeted Japanese fight fans.

Three lightweight bouts were scheduled underneath the evening's headlining middleweight fight. That number fell to two when Efrain Escudero missed weight by four pounds on Friday, prompting the forfeiture of 20 percent of his purse to 20-year-old Brazilian Charles "da Bronx" Oliveira (14-0). It was common knowledge coming into the fight that Oliveira's submissions are outstanding. Let it be known also that "da Bronx" does not react kindly to being hit in the groin. He may fly out of his corner, jump on your back and strangle you. At least that's the way in which the unbeaten talent treated 24-year-old Escudero (13-2), who tapped to a standing rear-naked choke -- one of the most exciting submissions of 2010 -- at 2:25 of Round 3.

Workhorse Jim Miller isn't going anywhere soon, not after a unanimous decision against powerful Brazilian Gleison Tibau. Miller (18-2) utilized pressure and accurate punches with his left hand to grind down Tibau (21-7). Considering the 27-year-old wrestler's two losses, decisions both, came against current UFC champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Gray Maynard, it's clear Miller ranks among a high class of fighter. Yet he remains a win or two away from getting a chance to avenge those losses. If he's given the opportunity, a bout against the winner of Sept. 25's clash between Evan Dunham and Sean Sherk should prove to be a significant test, one that would put the winner in title contention.

Opening the evening's televised portion, Cole Miller (17-4) scored the most impressive victory of his career against 25-year-old English fighter Ross Pearson (11-4). Pearson needed a couple minutes to get comfortable against the ranginess of the 6-foot-1 Miller, and once he did punches started landing. Yet Miller, 26, kept his composure and took control of the fight when a right hand hurt the 5-foot-8 Brit in Round 2. Miller went for the finish and found it, locking on a rear-naked choke at the 1:49 mark.