Hide your legs.
Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares makes his return to MMA this Saturday for World Series of Fighting 9.
At least, we think he is. We hope so.
Palhares, who is scheduled to face Steve Carl for Carl’s World Series of Fighting Welterweight title at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas at WSOF 9, may not make it to the cage at all. The feared leg-lock specialist was actually forced to cut short his training camp in his native Brazil to come to Nevada for a random drug test, mandated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Unfortunately, we won’t know the full results of the testing until tomorrow. If Palhares should fail — and fans may recall he failed a test for elevated testosterone levels in 2012 — Tyler Stinson will step in to challenge Carl.
It’s yet another strange twist in the career of Palhares, one of the most dangerous grapplers in the game.
Palhares, whose nickname “Toquinho” is Portuguese for “tree trunk” (in reference to his stout build), has recorded eleven career submissions among his fifteen MMA victories — with an astounding nine coming by way of heel hook or knee bar. Time and time again, we see that powerful frame enter into position, entangle a leg, and rock backwards with it, cranking to submission. His talent and skill is undeniable, and in today’s MMA climate, where submissions can seem few and far between, he would seem the kind of fighter any promotion would want.
Sadly, that’s not the case. Time and time again, we’ve seen Palhares not let go that submission once the tap comes and the referee calls for the break. The difference can only be a second or so, but fighters making use of attacks like Palhares’ favorite heel hook, a hold which is banned at many levels of MMA and grappling, are held to a high standard of safety. That standard proved too high for Palhares in the past. Two instances in his UFC bouts, plus the failed test for an elevated testosterone level, spelled the end of his UFC career. The promotion released him last year after a tumultuous run, and he inked a deal with World Series of Fighting shortly after.
For his part, Palhares admits to making mistakes — but says they won’t happen again. He also maintains he’s clean of any performance enhancing drug use, and actually welcomed the opportunity to clear his name.
This week, “Toquinho,” told MMA Junkie through a Portuguese translator, “I think it’s a good opportunity to prove I’m completely clean. I’m actually happy about that. It takes a whole lot of trouble out of my way. I’m clean – they can test me whenever they want, and nothing’s going to happen.”
The hope here is that he’s correct. Maybe, we just want to believe in the guy. Palhares’ career has a history of just missing the mark, with what seems more often mental lapses than belligerence as the culprit. He faces a solid all-around MMA welter in Steve Carl and it should be a good way to get back on track.