by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
His nickname when translated may mean “Shorty,” but Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares has been anything but short in his UFC career. The Brazilian middleweight currently stacks up with a 4-1 record and is currently slated to face off against Nate Marquardt at UFC 118 in Boston.
Training under legendary fighter Murilo Bustamante, Palhares has made a name for himself as one of the most devastating submission fighters in the game, and it was a submission in his last fight that cost him a suspension from the New Jersey Athletic Commission.
After snatching a leg from opponent Tomasz Drwal, Palhares wrenched up a heel hook and quickly had a submission win in the first round, but the referee and athletic commission believe that he didn’t release the hold fast enough and suspended the fighter following the bout as a disciplinary action.
Palhares, now moves on, but still has a sour taste in his mouth from the whole experience believing he did nothing wrong.
“I think it was unfair,” Palhares told MMAWeekly.com. “I didn’t have any intention to hurt my opponent. In my opinion, unfortunately the referee was too far from us and took too long to interrupt the fight. If he was faster nothing of that would happen.”
When the heel hook was released, Drwal was in obvious pain, but Palhares explains that he only did the job that he had to do to finish the fight and meant no ill will or harm towards his opponent.
“I did my job. I held until the referee stopped the fight,” Palhares explained. “That’s what Murilo always tell me to do, because he had (a) bad experience before with this subject.”
The experience that Palhares referenced was a 2002 fight in the UFC between Bustamante and Matt Lindland in which the Brazilian Top Team fighter appeared to finish the fight with an armbar, but due to confusion with the stoppage, the fight was allowed to continue. Bustamante eventually submitted Lindland in the third round, but most believe he actually won the fight earlier with the armbar.
Palhares is ready to move forward now and face possibly his toughest test in the UFC. He is expected to face Colorado based fighter Nate Marquardt at UFC 118 in Boston. While the fight is still not confirmed, Palhares talked about the possible match-up and what kind of danger Marquardt brings into the fight.
“He is a great fighter, it will be a good test for me,” said Palhares. “I am working hard to develop and improve my game. My dream fight (is) a title shot some day, and if God helps me become a champion. I know that to reach my dream, I will have to work hard and fight the best fighters in the world. Right now I am feeling totally secure and confident about my skills. Let them come. I want the best opponents I can have. It is time to test myself against them.”
The last fighter to defeat Marquardt, Chael Sonnen, will now face Anderson Silva at UFC 117 with the middleweight title on the line. Beating Marquardt would be a big step forward for Palhares putting himself in a solid position to deserve a title shot, and he’s ready for that challenge.
“I think it would be a big step in my career, and put me closer than what I am now,” Palhares stated. “It is my dream, but I know I have to be ready when this time comes.”
For now though, Palhares will focus on facing Marquardt in August and a win will go a long way to proving he belongs with the top middleweights in the world.