LAS VEGAS – It took until just days before his World Series of Fighting debut, but Rousimar Palhares is officially putting his past behind.

“I don’t have much to say about the past at this point,” Palhares said through an interpreter. “I am focusing all of my energy on this fresh start with World Series of Fighting, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue fighting elite fighters on an internationally-televised card and for a well-respected organization.”

Palhares competes in the main event of Saturday’s World Series of Fighting 9 card, which takes place at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The five-fight main card, including Palhares (15-6) vs. World Series of Fighting welterweight champion Steve Carl (21-3), airs on NBC Sports Network (9 p.m. ET) following prelims that stream on MMAjunkie (6 p.m. ET).

Despite being the challenger, Palhares is a slight favorite in the matchup. But the Brazilian submission master doesn’t believe he can simply assume victory is a given.

“Steve Carl is a tremendous athlete, and I have a great deal of respect for him,” Palhares said. “He is the champion in an extremely tough welterweight division. I’m blessed to be in a position to challenge him for his title, so now I need to go out there and do my best and show the world that I deserve that belt more than he does.”

But Palhares’ transition to the promotion wasn’t without some controversy. He was released from the UFC after being heavily criticized for holding a heel-hook submission against Mike Pierce well after his opponent was tapping. Prior to that fight, Palhares tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo has already warned Palhares he won’t put up with any foul play, and the 34-year-old Brazilian has already passed a surprise pre-fight drug test issued by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. So now, Palhares is ready to focus on a new phase of his career, and he believes World Series of Fighting provides him the perfect platform to showcase his skills.

“I was approached by several organizations and had many offers on the table, but I felt that World Series of Fighting was the best option for me at the moment,” Palhares said. “Their welterweight division is very deep with top talent like Steve Carl, Jon Fitch, Josh Burkman, Tyler Stinson and Gerald Harris, and I am anxious to test myself against all of them.”

For more on WSOF 9, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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