Even fighting down at 170 lbs, Rousimar Palhares’ reported 5’ 8” frame has always been a strange physical outlier. A man that appears to be almost as broad across the shoulders as he is tall, with arms that look more like a second set of legs than normal limbs with hands on the end. And, of course, the things he can do with those arms are terrifying. Opponents have often found themselves tapping in panic as he gets an arm around their ankle, for fear of the possibility of having a knee or ankle ripped to shreds. Sometimes even tapping hasn’t saved them.
All that made his recent appearance, in a training photo that’s been making the rounds on social media, all the more shocking.
The Brazilian leg-lock specialist looks near unrecognizable, walking at a reported 212 lbs, biceps seemingly the size of his own head. MMA Fighting spoke to him about the change in size. And he made it clear that, if nothing else, that he won’t be back at welterweight.
”I felt really bad cutting weight last time,” Palhares said. “I can’t make that weight anymore. I almost died. I can’t do it. I missed weight, I almost died, had to be medicated. I look like a crackhead at 170, I reached my limit. That was the last time I cut that much of weight. I’m done. No more. I might die, something can happen.
”I thought about pulling out of the fight but I needed the money. What can I do? I have a family, man. When you have family there’s no coming back. I have bills to pay.”
Palhares added that insinuations that he has been performance enhancing drugs aren’t getting him down, saying “people say whatever they want to try to diminish your work, so that doesn’t bother me at all.”
He also talked about his new mustache and haircut, which he got on account of a stylist friend who wanted to try out the look on him.
“[My wife] liked it, and also thought it’s funny,” he laughed. “My wife is my partner for life, she helps me with everything. but she think it’s funny. She didn’t criticize, though, so that’s a good start.”
Currently, ‘Toquinho’ is preparing for a grappling match with heel hook specialist Craig Jones at KASAI Pro 3 on August 18th. His last MMA bout came against Aliaskhab Khizriev at FNG 85, he lost in the first round by KO. No word yet on when he’ll be making his return to the cage.