Embattled leg lock specialist and former UFC fighter Rousimar Palhares now has his first opponent with his new promotion, World Series of Fighting. Palhares will face off with WSOF's 170-pound champion Steve Carl at WSOF9.
Palhares won his welterweight debut, defeating well-grounded gatekeeper Mike Pierce at UFC Fight Night 29 after spending most of his career at middleweight. Controversy erupted, however, after Palhares forced Pierce to tap to a heel hook, but continued cranking even as the referee attempted to separate them. Pierce suffered potentially unnecessary damage to his knee from the dirty move that has kept him from training to this day.
This caused a huge wave of backlash that brought to light over a half-dozen incidents of Palhares holding leg locks too long in both mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitions and earned him a 120-day suspension from the sport. Not only that, but former coaches and training partners also spoke out about previous alleged malicious acts by Palhares in the gym.
"Toquinho" was initially unrepentant, blaming Pierce and the referee, but UFC President Dana White went on to release Palhares from the promotion. While World Series of Fighting initially shut down any talk of Palhares joining the promotion, a halfhearted apology apparently got them to change their tune and he was signed not long afterward.
In addition to his inability to control himself while competing, he was also caught red-handed with elevated testosterone levels following his brutal knockout loss to Hector Lombard. Palhares, coincidentally of course, dropped from middleweight to welterweight following that fight.
While Palhares was serving out his suspension for the Pierce incident, Steve Carl (21-3 MMA record, 3-0 WSOF) quietly became champion of the WSOF welterweight division. After earning back-to-back first-round submission wins with WSOF, he fought Josh Burkman for the promotion's inaugural welterweight championship at WSOF 6, choking him out in the fourth round.
Carl, an M-1 and Bellator veteran, is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak with all those wins coming via submission.
The two will fight at WSOF9 on March 29.