While making a living fighting in a cage is an extremely dangerous profession, there is also a code of conduct and honor that exists among competitors. It will be extremely interesting to see if UFC-castoff Rousimar Palhares will change his ways now that he has been given a fresh start by the World Series of Fighting.
After initially indicating they had no interest in signing “Toquinho” when he was summarily cut loose by the UFC for unsportsmanlike conduct, the WSOF relented and signed him to a multi-fight deal. President Ray Sefo says they’re excited to have Palhares on board, labeling him as one of the most talented athletes in MMA.
There’s no denying Palhares is one of the best submission aces in the sport, but he’s gotten himself into hot water on two occasions now for refusing to release a devastating finishing hold when his opponent had tapped. The first instance occurred at UFC 111 when he was suspended 90 days for failing to let go of a heel hook he had locked on to Tomasz Drwal.
The last straw occurred at UFC Fight 29 when Palhares failed to release a devastating heel hook that was being applied to Mike Pierce when he was tapping. His actions took the shine off of what should have been seen as a terrific debut at 170 pounds. Palhares defeated a very tough opponent in Pierce in just 31 seconds, but all of the post-fight discussion centered on the controversial finish.
Even though he had the lone Submission of the Night, Palhares was denied the bonus money because of his conduct. UFC President Dana White was quick to announce that the organization was done with him. It was literally the third strike when you factor in his prior suspension due to testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone, this one coming after his knockout loss in a middleweight fight against Hector Lombard.
So now he has a fresh start in a fledgling promotion. Steve Carl is the welterweight champion in the WSOF, and there are familiar names in the 170-pound weight class such as Jon Fitch, Josh Burkman, Gerald Harris and Jorge Santiago. Fitch is already on record as saying he would turn down a fight with Palhares.
The promotion has made a contract offer to Ben Askren in the hopes of possibly putting together an Askren-Palhares matchup. That remains to be seen because the former Bellator welterweight champion and current free agent seems solely focused on joining the UFC, even though White has said they aren’t interested.
There will be some good matchups for Palhares in WSOF, and hopefully he’ll be able to keep his head on straight and continue to showcase his impressive skills. He has 11 submission finishes in compiling a 15-5 career record. Let’s hope the next time Palhares is being talked about, it’s in a positive way and not because of any more controversy. He’s already sparked outrage by breaking the code twice and is fortunate to be getting this fresh start.
Palhares is expected to make his debut in March.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports