Rousimar Palhares had been on a recent slide in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight division, losing to Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard in his last two. He was also busted for performance enhancing drug (PED) use after his loss to Lombard, earning a nine-month suspension.
Cutting down to welterweight, Palhares was in dire need of a win at last night's (October 9, 2013) UFC Fight Night 29 event from Jose Correa Gymnasium in Barueri, Brazil. He got one in classic fashion when he submitted the streaking Mike Pierce. It was a statement win that would have earned the powerful "Toquinho" a "Submission of the Night" bonus had he not held onto the leg too long.
Possessing some of the deadliest submission holds in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), Palhares made short work of the tough veteran Pierce to announce his arrival in a tough 170-pound division. Let's take a look at how "Toquinho" got the job done in Barueri.
Pierce came out and quickly went to his base skill of wrestling, knocking Palhares to the ground. "Toquinho" transitioned right into his trademark leglock, but Pierce escaped. It was short-lived, however, as Palhares dropped down for a single leg that quickly turned into a vicious heel hook that left Pierce screaming after he tapped out several times.
Palhares most likely needed to win just like he did to keep his job after two straight losses and a suspension, so this ended up being a rousing debut at welterweight. He'll move on to tougher competition, and the winner of UFC 167's Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley bout could be a good opponent for Palhares.
Despite cutting a ton of weight, Palhares looked in good shape and dangerous at welterweight. He should have more of a strength advantage at his new home than he did at middleweight, which will help his power-centered Brazilian jiu-jitsu game immensely. He's become a bit of one-trick pony, but that one trick is lethal. It remains to be seen if his chin can survive against the division's heavy hitters.
For Pierce -- who was on the brink of a five-fight win streak -- it's a devastating setback.
He had complained about his plight in the UFC after being resigned to a number of Facebook card bookings, but all he had to do to silence his critics was keep winning. Instead, he got finished in under a minute and his stock took a massive dive. Pierce will look to rebound soon if he's not too badly injured from the submission, and a bout against fellow UFN 29 loser Erick Silva could make sense upon his return.
It may have been a bit of a strange booking, but Mike Pierce ended up with nothing to complain about when he was submitted by Rousimar Palhares. Can "Toquinho" rise to the top of a crowded welterweight landscape in the UFC? Where does the unsung Pierce go from here?
For more news, notes and reactions from UFC Fight Night 29, including fight video highlights and play-by-play coverage of all the action from Brazil, check out our "Maia vs. Shields" live coverage story stream by clicking here.