While Rousimar Palhares has yet to gain much traction with casual UFC fans, his outstanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu credentials have caught the eyes of many hardcore fans. When it comes to Palhares and his recent entry in the UFC, there is a certain buzz going around as it pertains to him.
Palhares made his UFC debut at UFC 84 this past May thanks in large part to his impressive 3-0 record while competing for Brazil’s Fury Fighting Championships. Facing veteran Ivan Salaverry in his Octagon debut, Palhares did not disappoint after he notched a first round armbar submission.
While the fight with Salaverry was not featured during the live portion of the PPV broadcast, the performance was still strong enough to spark some fans to suggest that Palhares could be an eventual challenger for current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Based on the UFC’s decision to match Palhares against former PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion Dan Henderson in just his second UFC match during tonight’s UFC 88 event, it’s safe to say that the promotion things highly of him as well.
In spite of Palhares’ upside potential, there is relatively little know about him. We decided to touch base with him for an exclusive e-mail interivew that was translated by former UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante.
Gary Ibarra: How old were you when you began training?
Rousimar Palhares: I started when I was 15 in Karate and then later started jiu-jitsu when I was 18.
Gary Ibarra: When did you know that this was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Rousimar Palhares: When I watched UFC 3, I got crazy with that. It was at that moment that I realized what I wanted to do: to be an MMA fighter. I was 17 or 18 at the time.
Gary Ibarra: Was there a moment when you knew you were able to compete on a professional level?
Rousimar Palhares: When I started I could see I could be a professional. It became my dream after watching the UFC on video.
Gary Ibarra: According to your bio on the UFC’s website you used to work on a farm? How did you end up training Jiu Jitsu?
Rousimar Palhares: Yes, I worked all day on a farm. My family is really poor. Now we are doing a little better but every keeps working really hard there. When I trained in Karate, I arrived at an academy to train but the class was empty. Nobody showed up. Then I jumped inside the jiu-jitsu class, which was inside of the same academy.
Gary Ibarra: The bio on the UFC’s website is really short and it doesn’t shed much light on you as a fighter or how you came to where you are in your career now, was that intentional?
Rousimar Palhares: No, I just answer the question in my own way.
Gary Ibarra: Can you take me through a typical day of training for you before a fight?
Rousimar Palhares: I wake up every day at 7 a.m. At that time I study or I run. After that I have breakfast, then go to the Brazilian Top Team Academy to train at around 10 a.m. By 1 or 2 p.m. I am finished and then go have lunch. I start my second training session of the day around 6 p.m. and I train until 8 p.m. There are times where I train three times a day, but not often. I train jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, and a little bit of Muay Thai. I end up going to bed around 10 p.m. every night. I do this routine Monday through Saturday and on Sunday, I rest.
Gary Ibarra: Are you doing anything different in your training for this fight since Dan Henderson has said he intends to try and keep the fight standing up?
Rousimar Palhares: No, everything is the same (for this fight).
Gary Ibarra: Henderson seems to think that all you have is submissions, he also said “I see myself knocking him out, I am not going to lose” A lot of statements like these can been disregarded as an attempt to hype an upcoming fight but how do you feel when you hear a statement like that from an opponent?
Rousimar Palhares: I think he can say whatever he wants. The fight will be decided inside of the Octagon.
Gary Ibarra: Dan Henderson has beat fellow Brazilian fighters such as Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Renzo Gracie, as well as the man who’s translating this to you, Murilo Bustamante, is there any measure of revenge your looking to exact?
Rousimar Palhares: No, I am just doing my job. Of course he is between me and my dream; which is a title shot.
Gary Ibarra: Dan Henderson is 37 years old, almost 38, he’s coming off a loss to Anderson Silva that was preceded by a loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, some people would see all these things as the signs of a fighter who’s prime of their career is ending, does that have any effect on your confidence coming into this fight? and do you think he’ll be coming out in this fight trying to prove he’s still a capable fighter?
Rousimar Palhares: No, the fact that he’s coming off losses doesn’t change anything for me. My confidence is the same, which is really good. I think he knows his situation right now and maybe it will make him want to prove that he is the same fighter as he was before.
Gary Ibarra: The UFC recently announced its going to be adding the fighters in the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions of the WEC to their stable of available fighters, there Is there anyone in the UFC or WEC that you would want to fight especially?
Rousimar Palhares: No, I just want to fight whoever is between me and the belt.
Gary Ibarra: What would a win against one of the best, most well known fighters in the UFC’s history do for you and your career?
Rousimar Palhares: It would be a very important step in my career because it takes me closer to a title shot.
Editor’s Note: In addition to being a contributor for FiveOuncesOfPain.com, Garry Ibarra is also the owner of his own MMA clothing line, Graffight Apparel. Graffight has established sponsor-based relationships with several fighters. You can click here to access the list.