Embattled former UFC welterweight Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares found new life by signing with World Series of Fighting. The brutish submission artist was cut by UFC after torqueing a dangerous heel hook in the first round of his UFC Fight Night 29 bout against Mike Pierce in September.
But the ground wizard has acknowledged what he did wrong and is taking the necessary steps to correct it. He told MMA Fighting that he does not want to hurt anyone inside the cage:
"We’re working hard to make sure that it never happens again. I wasn’t focused and I didn’t realize that I was doing it. Now that I can see it, I hope I can work hard on that. We’re training the right way, fixing the issues. It’s perfect now. I never wanted to cause any harm to anyone, and I always believed I’d be able to find a new promotion to fight. I’m really happy that everything is back to normal in my life."
Perhaps Palhares never intended to hurt anyone, but the fact remains that he added insult to injury by holding onto some of the most lethal holds in MMA long after his opponents had tapped. The Pierce incident wasn’t the first transgression from Palhares, who was suspended for 90 days following a similar circumstance against Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111.
Now “Toquinho” will move onto new competition. The WSOF boasts a competitive welterweight roster with champion Steve Carl, Jon Fitch, and Josh Burkman. It’s not comparable to the UFC’s stacked 170-pound division, but there are some interesting fights available for Palhares.
Longtime UFC contender Fitch was particularly vocal about his disdain for Palhares’ actions, so it may be poetic justice that the two talented fighters do end up facing off. Fitch is notoriously hard to submit; Palhares will have his hands full. “Toquinho” addressed his feelings about the former UFC welterweight title challenger:
"The only thing that bothered me is the fact that (Fitch) said he doesn’t like me, but I never did anything to him. He said things without knowing me. I hope I can show him who I really am so he’ll change his opinion about me. I have nothing against him."
Fitch may not know Palhares personally, but it sounds like “Toquinho” is looking to make friends rather than fight him. I doubt that’s going to fly for Fitch or the WSOF because a matchup between the two experienced combatants is arguably the most high-profile bout that the promotion has to offer. Will Palhares eventually parlay his mistakes into WSOF gold?
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