Newly crowned World Series of Fighting (WSOF) welterweight champion and UFC castoff Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares was supposed to defend his title against fellow Octagon veteran Jon Fitch in the main event of WSOF 11 on July 5.
But today, news has arisen that the controversial submission wiz has pulled out of his first title defense.
According to MMA Fighting, Palhares withdrew due to personal reasons, but his manager Alex Davis could not be reached to elaborate upon the developing situation.
WSOF Executive Vice President Ali Abdelaziz was, however, and not surprisingly, he’s none too happy about the matter. He offered his disdain at the latest chapter in “Toquinho’s” long opus of quizzical circumstances:
“Enough is enough. We’re getting screwed,” he said. “I’m trying to put on a fight card and be nice to fighters, and now they don’t want to fight each other. I have to put WSOF first and everyone else second. No more Mr. Nice Guy.”
Abdelaziz’s anger is understandable, because WSOF has been more than gracious in welcoming Palhares into their fold after the talented but oft-suspended fighter was cut and banned from the UFC following his submission win over Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29 last October. Holding onto one of his feared heel hooks long after Pierce had tapped, it wasn’t the first time “Toquinho” had put an opponent’s health in danger.
The VP also stuck up for Palhares after he beat Steve Carl for the belt at WSOF 9, stating, “everyone just needs to shut the hell up and respect him as champion.”
He might be singing a different tune today.
With the unfortunate scratch, the evening’s previously scheduled lightweight title bout between Justin Gaethje and undefeated contender Nick Newell will now receive main event billing.
With WSOF 11 set to take place on July 5, the same day as the UFC’s traditional Fourth of July weekend show featuring both Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida for the middleweight title and Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis for the women’s bantamweight belt, WSOF obviously needed all the star power they could get.
The promotion is supposedly trying to book Fitch vs. Jake Shields, the longtime MMA veteran who was recently released from the UFC following a lackluster loss to Hector Lombard at UFC 171.
However, the promotion lost the biggest fight they had in a situation where their backs were already up against a wall, and Fitch vs. Shields would never stand up to one of the biggest UFC pay-per-views (PPV) of the year.
Palhares can’t seem to stay out of the news, and rarely does it seem to be good. Will he make WSOF regret their decision to sign and heavily promote him?
Photo: Jason Silva for USA TODAY Sports
Rousimar Palhares statement as transcribed from MMAFighting.com:
“My friends, I love this sport, and will never give up on a fight. Accept any challenge, is the mark of a true warrior.
Unfortunately right now my family and I, we are facing a big fight, the fight for health, for life. My mother had 13 children, and devoted her life to educate and raised me, my brothers and sisters. At this point God tells me that I need to focus 100 percent of my life to take care of my mother. I’m doing everything possible, dedicating myself to the fullest in order to ensure that the person who put me in this world will be health again.
It wouldn’t be fair to Jon Fitch, to the fans that look up to me, and also with the WSOF if I go out there to performance myself without being in the best of my shape, technique and psychological conditions. It wouldn’t be fair to MMA; our sport always determines that the athlete should be at his best limit to compete, it is no room for a mistake.
I understand that in the business field and as the capitalist world that we live in today that decision may not please everyone, but I’m a human being just like everyone else. As a good son it’s time for me to take care of my mother, she needs me.”