Rousimar Palhares, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert who was permanently banned from the UFC for holding dangerous submissions after referee stoppages, has signed with the fledgling World Series of Fighting promotion.
According to a report Monday evening from John Morgan and Dann Stupp of MMA Junkie, the controversial welterweight joins the WSOF fold despite previous assertions from promotion president Ray Sefo that WSOF had "no interest" in signing Palhares.
Palhares has more than once held his signature submission move, the heel hook, after a referee has called for an end to the bout. In March 2010, Palhares, then a middleweight, was suspended by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board for 90 days for failing to release a heel hook following his UFC 111 win over Tomasz Drwal.
The UFC handed Palhares a lifetime ban after UFC Fight Night 29, held in Brazil on Oct. 9. Palhares looked terrific in his welterweight debut, submitting tough wrestler Mike Pierce in only 31 seconds. However, the victory was tarnished when Palhares refused to let go of his hold.
Palhares said after the fight and before his UFC release he believed he stopped when he noticed the referee's exhortations for him to do so, and that he did not feel he should receive any additional punishment.
Despite the controversy, however, Palhares remains popular with fans for his aggressive submission game and exuberant style in the cage.
In addition to a popular fighter, WSOF also gets a seasoned and accomplished welterweight in Palhares, who is 15-5 as a pro and who, at age 33, may be far from done as an elite competitor.
Before dropping to welterweight, Palhares had lost two straight in the UFC middleweight division. His final middleweight fight, a knockout loss to Hector Lombard in December 2012, was further besmirched when Palhares tested positive for elevated testosterone levels. Prior to that fight, Palhares lost by TKO to longtime UFC veteran Alan Belcher.
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