(Palhares would later describe this moment as “the first time I’ve ever been on an airplane.” / Props: @ToquinhoMMA)
When it comes to picking up the UFC’s leftovers, World Series of Fighting and Bellator have displayed two very different approaches. While Bellator tends to sign the most washed-up UFC castoffs in order to make their home-grown fighters look impressive when they beat the UFC guys (or to create negative buzz around a surely-doomed PPV), World Series of Fighting tries to pick up the best UFC castoffs available, in the hopes that fighters like Anthony Johnson, Miguel Torres, Jon Fitch, and Yushin Okami are famous enough to draw fans on their own. Bellator would rather avoid having champions who weren’t good enough to keep their jobs with Zuffa. For World Series of Fighting, having a UFC veteran win a belt is the kind of promotional hook they’ve been working towards all along.
I mention all of that to help explain why World Series of Fighting has just signed Rousimar Palhares to a multi-fight contract. Yes, he’s been bounced out of the UFC for causing undue injury to his opponents, and any organization that signs him isn’t doing the sport any favors. On the other hand, Palhares is incredibly talented, a ferocious fight-finisher, a consistent generator of controversy and awesome GIFs — the kind of athlete that any B-level MMA league (besides Bellator) would kill to get their hands on.
Palhares is expected to make his WSOF debut in March, against an opponent to be named later. Jon Fitch has already pre-emptively turned down the fight, but matching Toquinho up against another American wrestler is a possibility. As MMAJunkie reports:
WSOF officials recently expressed interest in signing former Bellator champion Ben Askren, who parted ways with his former home earlier this week. With the UFC apparently not interested in signing Askren…sources close to the WSOF said the organization is interested in booking him against Palhares, though nothing has been signed.
Yeah, I’d watch that. Otherwise, WSOF could just give Palhares an immediate title shot against welterweight champion [*checks Wikipedia*] Steve Carl. Why the hell not? Are you telling me Palhares needs to break the legs of two nobodies who don’t even have Wikipedia pages in order to “earn” a fight against [*checks Wikipedia again, just to be sure*] Steve Carl?
Make it happen, [*checks Wikipedia*] Ray Sefo.