It was an electrifying welterweight debut by Rousimar Palhares at UFC Fight 29. The Brazilian veteran is one of the best submission specialists in the UFC and it was on full display on his home soil against Mike Pierce. Pierce, who had been lamenting a lack of respect despite a four-fight win streak, was submitted via heel hook a mere 31 seconds into Round 1. Palhares registered his 11th submission victory in his 15 career wins. He remains truly one of the most dangerous men in the Octagon when he latches onto a limb.
Pierce had been hoping another victory would propel him into the top-10 rankings and a high profile bout, but those plans took a serious hit in Brazil. Despite knowing what Palhares’s strategy would be, Pierce fell into imminent danger right away. He was fighting off a submission attempt about 15 seconds in, and was unable to escape the impending damage. He was yelling and tapping at the same time when Palhares finally locked in his painful finishing move.
Pierce was upset that Palhares didn’t immediately release the hold after he tapped and the UFC apparently agreed as no Submission of the Night bonus was awarded due to what was deemed as unsportsmanlike conduct. Palhares is no stranger to this type of controversy as he was suspended for 90 days after a victory over Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111 for hanging onto that hold too long after his opponent had tapped.
It was a badly-needed victory for Palhares who dropped his last two fights at middleweight before making the move down in weight. He’d been knocked out by both Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher. A disappointing result in his 170-pound debut could have spelled the end of his UFC tenure.
Now with the victory, Palhares shows he’s a force to deal with after handing Pierce his first-ever submission defeat. Other welterweights who will face “Toquino” will obviously know what to prepare for. However, as we saw against a rugged customer in Pierce, preparing for and actually being able to stop it are two different things.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports