Rousimar Palhares is a Brazilian professional mixed martial artist (MMA), better known by his nickname, Toquinho. Rousimar, who fights for Team Nogueira, is famous for his submission moves. During the course of his career, he has fought in 28 matches to date and has won 19 of them. Most of his victories have come through his extraordinary submission and grappling skills. Known for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, GJJ and Luta Livre styles, he is one among a few men in the mixed martial arts fraternity who are capable of terrifying their opponents even before the commencement of their respective match. He has fought under middleweight and light heavyweight categories and at present, he fights under welterweight division. Palhares has always displayed an aggressive and almost careless behavior in the ring, and is infamous for his longer than required submission holds. This malicious behavior has landed him in trouble and he was once banned for 90 days from MMA after his unsportsmanlike fight against Tomas Drawl.
Childhood & Early Life
Palhares was born Rousimar Christian Palhares on February 20, 1980 at Dores do Indaiá, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He was born into a poverty-stricken family and hence had to work from a young age at the local farms.
Palhares was raised along with his nine siblings. His family worked in a plantation to make both ends meet. On a few unlucky days, they would be left with no other choice but to eat animal feed.
Palhares was in his mid-teens when he started watching mixed martial arts competitions. Inspired by the accomplishments and power of MMA fighters, he made up his mind to become a fighter and began his training. Iran Brasileiro, a black belt holder from the Pantera Negra gym, guided and trained him.
Shortly after he started his training, Palhares began to participate in a few small shows, organized by the Pantera Negra gym. This boosted his confidence and he started believing that he could compete on bigger stages, but to achieve this, he had to leave his place and find a professional guide. Placing his trust on his intuition, he borrowed 170 dollars from his brother and left for Rio de Janeiro to pursue his dream of making big in MMA.
Palhares went to BTT, the most famous MMA academy in Brazil, to train. Since he had very little money, he had to often sleep in bus stops and under bridges. When the owners of BTT, Murilo Bustamante and Bebeo Duarte, became aware of this, they helped Palhares with food and shelter.
This was the turning point in his life. He caught the attention of team owners and other ace MMA fighters during the initial days of his training. Soon, he mastered the Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) style with the help of his fellow fighters and earned himself a Purple Belt.
Palhares was now competing all over Brazil and was winning many competitions. With the prize money that he received, he cleared the loan that he had taken from his brother. He also contributed to the household expenses of his family. After making a name for himself in the BJJ style, he went on to become a complete MMA fighter.
After several months of grueling training sessions, Palhares commanded over grappling and submission techniques. Thereafter, his guides convinced him that participating in the ADCC, the world’s most prestigious submission and grappling event, would help him with UFC. Palhares was noticed after winning the Brazilian trials against the World Black Belt Champion, Romulo Barral, in 2005. What impressed the critics was the fact that he won using a submission move. Unfortunately, he couldn’t participate in the finals as his visa got rejected.
By the end of 2007, Palhares received his Black Belt in jiu-jitsu. He was now ready to compete at the international level.
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In 2008, Palhares participated in his first international fight in UFC 84 which was held in the US. But he lost to the lightweight and welterweight champion, Dan Henderson. In 2009, the organizers invited him to the ADCC finals in Barcelona, Spain, but because of a bone fracture while training, he couldn’t make it to the tournament.
The same year, he compensated his first UFC loss by defeating Jeremy Horn. On December 12, 2009, he registered one more UFC victory against Lucio Linhares.
In 2010, Palhares was banned for 90 days for holding on a submission lock against his opponent Tomas Drawl for too long. In the post-match interview, he said that he did not hear his opponent and instead waited for the referee to intervene. He also apologized for his misconduct.
In 2011, Palhares was once again invited to compete at the world’s biggest grappling event. This time around, he not only made it to the event but also competed at the highest level.
Palhares competed brilliantly in the less than 88 kg weight division by knocking out his first three opponents convincingly. He displayed amazing leg lock moves and ended up securing the second place. He lost the championship to the experienced MMA fighter Andre Galvao, who won both middleweight and open weight divisions.
On December 15, 2012, Palhares lost the UFC FX 6 match against Hector Lombard. This loss forced Palhares to move one level down to the welterweight division. On October 9, 2013, he knocked out Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29 under the welterweight category.
Palhares participated in his first World Series of Fighting (WSOF) match on March 29, 2014 at WSOF 9. He fought and won over the Welterweight Champion, Steve Carl. This time he used his inverted heel technique to knock Steve out.
In 2016, the No-Gi match between Palhares and Garry Tonon was officially declared a draw. Many Garry Tonon fans opposed the decision as the match seemed like a one-sided affair. Initially, it looked like Palhares would walk away with an easy win as he was tossing the much smaller Tonon around. But Tonon turned out to be a surprise package as he bounced back and counter-attacked to make the match thrilling and captivating.
After the World Series of Fighting 22 event in 2013, Palhares was suspended from UFC as he repeated his dreaded mistake. This time around, he refused to let go of his opponent Mike Pierce from a submission hold even after the referee had intervened.
The main event of WSOF 22 between Palhares and Jake Shields is perhaps one of the most controversial fights in Palhares’ career. He was penalized for repeatedly poking Shields' eyes and for holding onto the submission lock even after referee Steve Mazzagatti had intervened. Jake Shields did tap several times but it only provoked Palhares to apply extra pressure. He was charged for foul play in his welterweight title fight against Jake Shields.
Right after his UFC match against Lombard, Palhares was suspended for nine months as he tested positive in a dope test.
Palhares has won the WSOF welterweight championship once and the UFC Submission of the Night challenge twice.