Alex Davis: Rousimar Palhares, from transgressor to victim of public opinion


As I sift through all the various media outlets and see everything that is being said about Rousimar Palhares, I cannot help but to reflect what an odd situation into which this has turned.

I’m not defending Rousimar’s actions. He did wrong in holding Mike Pierce‘s ankle that long. But this situation is being way over blown. Rousimar has already been punished. He was denied an obvious “Submission of the Night” bonus, and he was given a four-month suspension by the CABMMA. But this guy is being crucified in the court of public opinion and turned into something he is not: a mean, monstrous person who is out to hurt people. This is simply not the truth.

Dana White got very upset over the incident and cut Rousimar. I get it. I get his perspective. But we were not sent a release letter, nor did we get a phone call. We found out on Twitter. That’s a first for me! And then all these people out there crying and whining!

Let’s see now – Alan Belcher now wants a rematch with Rousimar. If I recall correctly, Rousimar lost to Belcher didn’t he? If someone should be asking for a rematch, it should be Rousimar, no? And how about Bellator saying they don’t want him. Hold on. I never asked Bellator if they would have him in the first place – and if I had, it would have been on an email or a phone call! But Bellator goes out there in public and says they don’t want him. I have a feeling they will come to regret that one.

And how about Murilo Bustamente? Now, I never, ever get involved in the relationship between a fighter and his camp. That being said, I do know why Rousimar left that team, and let me make it clear that it was not Murilo that asked him to leave. Rousimar left because he felt he was not evolving as a fighter, and there were other fighters who left that camp around that time for the same reason.

MMAjunkie.com’s own Ben Fowlkes’ words keep on coming to my mind:

“I can only think of two possible explanations for why Palhares keeps doing this. One is that it’s all part of a strategy. He thinks the way to make people tap quicker than they really need to is to instill in them a fear that, no matter when they submit, he’ll keep cranking the hold for another few seconds anyway. It’s a mental game he’s playing, purposefully crafting a reputation for cranking submissions in order to make opponents fear the madman Rousimar Palhares.

Possible explanation No. 2 is less complicated: Palhares is just a dirtbag. He lacks empathy and respect for his fellow fighters. He’s a bad person who refuses to learn from his past mistakes, and he wants to make sure we all know it.”

As I explained to Ben in a personal email, this is passing judgement, not reporting. These statements are simply idiotic. This guy has never met Rousimar and has no idea who he is or why he does these things!

Next thing that will happen, is that Rousimar – through a simple, crazy media frenzy – will become such a monster that parents will tell their kids at home, “Behave, or Rousimar Palhares will come and get you.”

Come on! This has turned into one of the biggest bashing sessions in MMA history. People are gaining media at this guy’s expense; that’s whats happening.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but let me try and predict the future here. Rousimar will fight again. There are already several events interested in having him. He will have learned his lesson, he will come out under control, and he will will put on amazing fights. I say this because Rousimar is one hell of an athlete. He is humble, hardworking and disciplined. He does not drink, does not party. He trains hard, and not only does he train, he helps his training partners. He is a great teammate. Everyone at Team Nogueira loves him.

What Rousimar did was wrong. But what Renato “Babalu” Sobral did was also wrong, when he had a choke on David Heath and did not let it go. And although “Babalu” did get cut from the UFC, he was not turned into a monster. Rousimar does not do this on purpose. He does it subconsciously. But he will have learned his lesson, and he will fight with his head on, and he will beat everyone put in front of him – maybe in a nicer way! And when this happens, I will remind the world of all of this: There are many truths in this situation. Rousimar has been turned from a transgressor to a victim of public opinion and people’s ignorance.

For more on UFC Fight Night 29, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Alex Davis is a lifelong practitioner of martial arts and a former Brazilian judo champion. A founding member of American Top Team, Davis currently oversees the careers of a number of prominent Brazilian fighters, including Edson Barboza, Luiz Cane, Rousimar Palhares, Antonio Silva and Thiago Tavares, among others. Davis is a frequent contributor to MMAjunkie.com, sharing his current views on the sport built through his perspectives that date back to the Brazilian roots of modern MMA.

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