Lance Palmer won the RFA featherweight title in only his seventh pro fight this past June. Tonight, just a few months later, he will fight for another title; this time it's the WSOF featherweight title he will be fighting for when he faces Giorgi Karakhanyan at WSOF 7.
Palmer was a guest on MMAmania's "Darce Side Radio" podast recently (listen), and he explained that, "everything kind of happened quickly" in regards to his signing with WSOF and the 145-pound title fight.
"My contract with RFA was up in November, or October, one of the two, so it was just looking at different options and World Series called us, and it wasn't even about the title fight," Palmer said. "They called us about doing the deal with World Series and what I thought about it, and then the next week it was Rick Glenn is out, do you want to fight for the title? Everything went from there and it's pretty cool the way things worked out."
"It's been cool the way everything has progressed so far and it's exciting because you don't get opportunities like that all the time so you have to take the opportunities that you get, whether it's MMA or anything really. That's why it was something that we couldn't turn down."
RFA, Palmer's previous MMA home, has become the unofficial Triple A or feeder promotion of the UFC. Several fighters on the roster have made the leap into the UFC: Brandon Thatch, James Krause, Tim Elliot, Sergio Pettis, and most recently Zach Makovsky, have all gone on to fight for the biggest show in MMA.
Several of Palmer's Team Alpha Male teammates are already there as well, so it did seem a little surprising he ended up with WSOF. It turns out, the four-fight deal that WSOF offered was just too good for the undefeated featherweight to pass up.
"Financially, it's just something that made sense to me more than the UFC would as their opening pay," Palmer revealed. "Without being too specific, it was a great deal for me."
In a sport where big money is not guaranteed, especially to young fighters, Palmer is looking out for his best interests first, as opposed to just seeking the bright lights of the UFC.
"That's what it's about in the long run," Palmer stated. "It's about a career. The UFC brand is the biggest brand. Don't get me wrong. The UFC isn't going anywhere. There is always time to get into the UFC. I'm still building my career anyway, and if I can make some money in the early stages of my career, that's the best way to do it."
Palmer's opponent, Karakhanyan, has 25 career fights under his belt, and a significant difference in cage time, than the Team Alpha Male fighter. That doesn't affect him though. He's "gone against a couple of vets, and it's something that is exciting for me because they have a lot of experience in the cage," he said. Palmer has been criticized before, for his reliance on his wrestling pedigree. The former Division-1 wrestler is getting tired of people saying that.
"He said in an interview last week ‘It's not a wrestling match.' Everyone has said that so far that I fought," Palmer said. "Obviously, I know it's not a wrestling match. If it was a wrestling match it wouldn't be in a cage. I think people just say that because they don't have anything to stop my wrestling."
As he continues to grow and develop as a mixed martial artist, one of his biggest improvements, he said, was in his striking. No surprise there, as new Team Alpha Male coach, Duane Ludwig, has helped Palmer and his teammates immensely in that department.
In fact, since taking over last January, the team's first loss was T.J. Dillashaw dropping a split decision to Raphael Assuncao in October. Palmer said Ludwig has "made a huge difference" in his game.
"Before he came we didn't have an actual striking coach. If there is a master of something like your black belt, Duane is a master for combat because he actually did it, he was there, he was a K-1 champ, he has the fastest knockout in the UFC, he's been there, he's done that. It's something that I never had before that, and that started in January.
"My progression has been has been unbelievable in the past 11 months. The amount of drilling that we do, everything is almost becoming natural to me. Not as natural as my wrestling is to me, but the same sense. If you drill something and do the right amount of repetitions a certain amount of time, it's just going to come to you naturally, and that's what he is trying to instill in everyone.
"Since I was pretty much the newest one when he came in, I've made great leaps and bounds just with that mentality."
With a victory on Saturday night, the former Ohio State buckeye will improve to 8-0 and add his second featherweight title to his collection in as many fights. Meanwhile, his Alma Mater needs to defeat Michigan State to remain undefeated and get a spot in the BCS title game.
"We gotta beat Michigan State convincingly," Palmer said. "Nobody likes Ohio State right now. Even though we are undefeated we have a weak schedule or whatever. Florida State really doesn't have that much of a better schedule than we do and they are number one right now.
"I got my... The stripes that Ohio State has on their football helmets are going to be on the sides of my fight shorts this Saturday because they are playing the same day."
To see Palmer in action at WSOF 7 click here.