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Luis Palomino tapers 'anger' and 'rage' ahead of WSOF 12 headliner


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Luis Palomino has made the mistake of entering a fight too hot-headed in the past, but he isn’t about to duplicate that error for the biggest bout of his life.

With more than half of his wins coming by knockout, Palomino is the very definition of a fighter who tries to take his opponent’s head off every time he enters the cage. Unfortunately, that strategy has previously cost him fights he otherwise feels he would have won.

After eight years of competing in smaller promotions, Palomino (22-9) has hit the big time and will headline Saturday’s WSOF 12 fight card opposite fellow lightweight contender Lewis Gonzalez (9-0). The importance of this fight is not lost on Palomino, and in order to assure he can perform at an optimal level, he put heightened focus on keeping his emotions in check.

“We’ve been working hard on controlling a little bit of my anger, a little bit of my rage because sometimes I’m trying to finish a fighter a little too fast,” Palomino told MMAjunkie. “That will happen from time to time, but I’m very concentrated, very focused and I’m going to win this fight and do so by knocking him out.”

WSOF 12 goes downSaturday night  from Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The main card airs on NBC Sports Network following preliminary card action, which streams on MMAjunkie.

It’s no secret Palomino prefers to keep his fights standing and hunt for a knockout. Gonzalez, on the other hand, has won the majority of his fights on the ground. Gonzalez recently told MMAjunkie he’s confident in his ability to strike, as well, and actually fancies himself the more technical fighter on the feet.

Palomino thinks that’s somewhat laughable; not because Gonzalez is incompetent during striking exchanges but because he’s usually so focused on taking every fight to the ground that he’s hardly shown anything in the way of offensive striking.

“He’s talking about being more technical, but show me a fight where he actually stands and trades with anybody?” Palomino said. “I really wouldn’t say he’s more technical. Every time he goes into a fight he tries to impose his will on the takedown and take the fight to the ground for a submission finish. He hasn’t stood up long enough to actually think he has more of a technical striking game.”

Palomino understands why Gonzalez would think he wants a brawl, but he has trained specifically to keep his composure. Obviously the flow of any bout can turn on a dime; however, Palomino says the wild fighter Gonzalez anticipates won’t be the one to show up on fight night.

“There’s no comparison in his striking game to mine, especially with who he has faced,” Palomino said. “I’ve been hearing about the whole thing, ‘He’s going to swing and miss, I’m going to get a shot in.’ If he’s just hoping on the swing and miss, he’s going to have a very short night.”

While Palomino gets excited talking about the potential of what might happen when he’s striking, he knows perfectly well the fight can hit the ground at any time. There’s no question Gonzalez excels on the floor, and while Palomino has been caught in submissions in previous fights, he knows his grappling can hang with Gonzalez – be it on the offensive or defensive end.

“Worst comes to worst, I have a good submission game,” Palomino said. “If he’s going to try and hold me down, then we’re going to have to sweep, submit and finish him that way.”

Another factor that could swing in Palomino’s favor is the fact he owns three times more professional experience than his opponent. The 33-year-old has not just shared the cage with many notable fighters, but he has also beaten the likes of Gesias Cavalcante, Daron Cruickshank and Jorge Masvidal during his career.

Those are some very talented competitors, and although a veteran of Palomino’s stature knows every fight is new and previous experiences mean little, the knowledge he has picked up through facing top-tier athletes will certainly be beneficial.

“I try not to count a lot on my experience,” Palomino said. “I have faced the tougher and more experienced roster of fighters than he has. I bring a whole lot more experience than he does. I only recognize one name on the roster of fighters he has faced. I think he has a good record so far, but I do believe I’m the toughest fighter he has faced so far. I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I’ve fought them all, I’ve won, I’ve lost and there’s nothing holding me back from taking me the win.”

Despite having just one WSOF fight to his name, Palomino has been trusted with the responsibility of a main event, which is a flattering feeling, he says. The Peruvian-born fighter believes his proper due is finally starting to roll around, and, with a victory, says many new doors will open.

One of those doors could lead to a WSOF lightweight title fight against the winner of champion Justin Gaethje and No. 1 contender Melvin Guillard. The prospect of fighting for the WSOF belt excites Palomino greatly, and he fully expects to compete for the belt when he hands Gonzalez his first professional loss at WSOF 12.

“I definitely expect a title shot if I win this fight,” Palomino said. “Him being undefeated doesn’t worry me at all. I think this is a big moment in my career after so much hard work. It doesn’t get much better and it’s a dream come true.”

For more on WSOF 12, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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