Rousimar Palhares was under a lot of pressure going into his fight against Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29. At the time, the Brazilian submission ace had most recently lost two consecutive fights to Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard. Dropping a third bout in a row could have potentially gotten him cut from the promotion.
Even though he didn’t lose to Pierce that night, he still ended up getting cut.
Paulhares made quick work of Pierce by submitting him in the first round via heel hook. Shortly afterwards, UFC President Dana White announced that Palhares would be banned from the UFC for life due to unsportsmanlike conduct. Apparently, White disapproved of the way Palhares held on to the heel hook for so long and continued to torque it even after the referee was trying to pull him off of his opponent. After his banishment, Palhares pleaded with the UFC to give him another chance, but unfortunately for him, they had already made up their minds.
A factor that might have contributed to the UFC’s harsh punishment on Palhares was that this wasn’t the first time the BJJ expert had gotten himself into trouble.
In addition to failing a drug test for elevated testosterone in 2012, he had also hurt other competitors in the past for refusing to release leg lock submission holds in a timely manner. Apparently, the Pierce fight was the last straw for the UFC.
As if it already wasn’t bad enough that he received a lifetime ban from the most prominent mixed martial arts organization in the world, other promotions, such as Bellator and the World Series of Fighting, said they wouldn’t allow him to compete under their banners either.
However, WSOF President Ray Sefo eventually changed his mind and allowed the notorious rogue fighter into his organization. According to MMA Fighting, Sefo had a change of heart after listening to Renzo Gracie’s defense of Palhares.
“I was one of the first people that actually said the same thing, that I wasn’t interested because, again, this is a sport and I don’t want to see anybody get hurt badly or get paralyzed from that because of some silliness,” WSOF President Ray Sefo said on Tuesday.
“But after listening to Renzo Gracie, who is a master of jiu-jitsu, and what he had to say about that particular incident, there’s been discussions and dialogue going back and forth between our matchmaker and his team and (coach Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira. Nogueira is giving us his word that he’s actually sitting down with [Palhares] and helping him with this camp, and they’re looking into getting him some help, as well. So all these things put together allowed me to look at it from a different perspective and talk to the team about it, and so we decided that we were going to sign him.”
It seemed that Palhares lucked out. Without the support of Gracie and Nogueira, his career would have been in some serious trouble. Nonetheless, Sefo emphasized that this opportunity for the former UFC fighter is a strict one; no incidences will be tolerated.
“I will not tolerate any of that nonsense that happened before. If it happens again, he’s gone,” Sefo vowed.
“It would be silly for it to happen again, because I’m pretty sure if he does it here, then he won’t have anywhere else to go. But again, Nogueira and the team have given us their word that things will be good from here on in, so we’ll wait and see.”
Looks like Palhares better be careful. If he gets banned from the WSOF for any reason at all, it could very well mean the end of his career. It’s not likely that any major organization would want him to fight under their banner after another serious offense.