An Inside Look at The Notorious Rousimar Palhares

21 Jul , 2018,
Jordan Bryant

Rousimar Palhares is quite a polarizing figure within the MMA community and for good reason. He is a dangerous jiu-jitsu expert and has earned a reputation for his submission holds. However, despite this he is an accomplished grappler with an MMA record that’s nothing to sneeze at. Nicknamed Toquinho, for “little tree stump”, comes from his short stocky build. Toquino gained 16 submission victories in MMA with 12 of those coming from leg locks.


The Brazilian jiu-jitsu stand out faced major hurdles and challenges before he ever set foot in an octagon. While most children were going to school, ten year old Palhares along with his sisters worked 13 hour days on a plantation. All while making just enough money to barely survive. From sun up to sun down, he worked, taking care of cattle and cleaning the plantations. Palhares had no opportunity to study or go to school when he was just 10 years old.

As Palhares grew older, his family had enough money to afford him minimal free time. He immediately dove into training martial arts. He first started training Capoeira and then transitioned into Karate. From there he began training jiu-jitsu and with his compact powerful frame he instantly gravitated to it.

When he was 25, Palhares decided to take a leap of faith and left the plantation life and moved to Rio de Janeiro. Once he got to Rio, he began training at Brazilian Top Team. Palhares began his MMA training with the likes of Murilo Bustamante, Ricardo Liborio, Mario Sperry, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vitor Belfort and Paulo Filho.

MMA Career

At UFC 88 Palhares suffered his first loss at the hands of Dan Henderson. Henderson defeated Palhares by unanimous decision. From there Palhares quickly rebounded and went on to defeat a tough veteran Jeremy Horn at UFC 93 by unanimous decision. At UFC 107, Palhares fought Lucio Linhares and won by his patented heel hook.

At UFC 111, Palhares defeated Tomasz Drwal via heel hook just 45 seconds into the first round. However, this is when the controversy began. Palhares was later suspended 90 days for failing to let go of the submission after the referee stopped the fight. At UFC 118 Palhares was slated to fight Nate Marquardt and went on to lose via first round TKO. Palhares stopped in the middle of the action to complain to the referee that Marquardt had greased his leg to avoid leg locks. While Palhares was off guard, Marquardt attacked him securing the victory.

At UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann, Palhares faced David Branch who replaced Ferreira. Palhares would later defeat Branch via second round kneebar submission. At UFC 134, Palhares stepped in as a late replacement for Ferriera against Dan Miller. Palhares went on to defeat Dan Miller by unanimous decision. From there Palhares would go on to face Alan Belcher. After almost getting caught in a twister attempt by Belcher he eventually succumbed to Belcher’s ground and pound in the first round.

Eventually, Palhares went on to face dangerous Judo black belt Hector Lombard. Palhares would later lose by KO in Round 1. Following the loss he was suspended for testing positive for elevated testosterone levels.

Since being suspended he has fought for the UFC once and a plethora of other smaller organizations.

Grappling Pedigree

  • Winner of the ADCC 2005 Brazilian Trials
  • ADCC 2011 Silver Medallist

Jiu-Jitsu Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Murilo Bustamante > Rousimar Palhares

About the Author:

I’m an avid Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and lead wordsmith at BJJ Informer.

Jordan Bryant

I'm an avid Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and lead wordsmith at BJJ Informer.