From humble beginnings to Jiu-Jitsu phenom, Rousimar Palhares has positioned himself as one of the best prospects out of Brazilian Top Team today.
“I was born into a simple and humble family from the countryside of Brazil. I’ve been working since I was seven years old to help with my family,” revealed Palhares. “Our family was really poor; sometimes we didn’t have enough food for the whole family.”
Palhares has been given the nickname of “Toquinho,” which roughly translates to ‘shorty.’ Moniker aside, this Brazilian standout is not short on talent. The 185-pound fighter claimed the Fury Fighting Championship middleweight title after defeating Flavio Mura, Pan-Am Jiu-Jitsu champion Fabio Negao, and Chute Boxe’s Daniel Acacio in impressive tournament action.
“I am very grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to train with Brazilian Top Team. I have made a lot of friends here; they have helped me with everything that I need. I have the opportunity to train with great fighters and I learn something new every day.”
Palhares earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under former UFC champion Murilo Bustamante and Bebeo Duarte. Experts in martial arts touted Toquinho as one of the most naturally gifted grapplers today. His jiu-jitsu has transitioned well into MMA and his past opponents succumbed to his aggressive style and ground prowess.
Having spent his entire career competing in Brazil, Palhares will venture out of his native country to make his Octagon debut at UFC 84 on Saturday. After considering offers from organizations in Japan and the U.S., he and his management team chose to sign with the largest MMA promotion in North America.
“It is my dream to be in the UFC. I have the chance to test my techniques and skills. I can fight with the best fighters. I want to be a UFC champion,” said Palhares. “I look up to all of the best fighters in the world; it doesn’t matter where they come from. My dream is to be on top beside them.”
He arrived in the U.S. last Wednesday, a week and a half prior to his bout, to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and complete his training.
“I am finishing my training for this fight now and everything has been very good. I trained very hard and didn’t sustain any injuries. I am a little bit excited because I am realizing my dream; to fight in the UFC,” revealed Palhares. “I am confident in my game and everything that I have been training in with my team.”
Going into this fight, he will benefit from having a former Octagon champion in his corner. Bustamante claimed the promotion’s 185-pound title when he finished Dave Menne with strikes at UFC 35. The Brazilian Top Team leader successfully defended his belt once, submitting Matt Lindland in his subsequent outing. Bustamante would later vacate his title and sign with the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships.
“He is of great help,” complimented Palhares. “Murilo is trying to teach me not only how to fight, but also how this business works.”
Standing across from him at UFC 84 will be Ivan Salaverry. The Team Punishment fighter is a seasoned veteran who holds notable wins over Joe Riggs and Andrei Semenov and has had twice as many fights as his Brazilian counterpart. Salaverry is coming off of a loss to Terry Martin from almost a year ago.
“He is a great fighter with much more experience than me. I respect him a lot and I know that it will be a difficult fight, just the way I like it,” commented Palhares about his opponent. “(I do not see any weaknesses in him), I think he does everything well. He is a complete fighter.
“I am ready to fight anywhere, standing or on the ground. At Brazilian Top Team, we train to be able to handle all the situations that can happen during the fights. My training makes me very comfortable for any fight,” he added.
With Anderson Silva currently dominating the 185-pound division, the UFC is continually looking for new talent that can contend for the middleweight title. Palhares will fulfill one of his career dreams when he makes his Octagon debut at UFC 84. “Toquinho” hopes to make a big impression and maybe one day challenge for the title.
“I have been working very hard to make my dream come true. I hope I am able to give a good fight in the UFC. I want to thank everybody that has kept their fingers crossed for me. I just want to do my best for the fans.”