Moving on from his controversial win over Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111, Rousimar Palhares hopes to take a step closer to his dream of UFC gold with a rumored fight against perennial top contender Nate Marquardt.
Palhares submitted Drwal with a brutal heel hook in the first minute of their fight, continuing to crank the lock even after his opponent tapped in agony. Despite apologizing after the fight, Palhares was hit with a 90 day suspension from the New Jersey athletic commission. He hopes now to put the image of the Drwal fight behind him as he prepares for his next challenge.
"I think it was unfair," Palhares told MMAWeekly.com. "I didn't have any intention to hurt my opponent. In my opinion, unfortunately the referee was too far from us and took too long to interrupt the fight. If he was faster nothing of that would happen. I did my job. I held until the referee stopped the fight. That's what Murilo (Bustamante) always tell me to do, because he had (a) bad experience before with this subject."
Palhares, who worked hard for years to bring himself and his family up from a life of poverty on the tough streets of Dores do Indaia in Brazil, is well known for his big smile and humble demeanor. But more importantly to most fans, his jiu-jitsu skills are among the finest of any fighter to step into the Octagon, which include, of course, his signature heel hooks. He will certainly need his whole arsenal of skills if his expected fight with Marquardt does take place.
"He is a great fighter, it will be a good test for me," stated Palhares of Marquardt. "I am working hard to develop and improve my game. My dream fight (is) a title shot some day, and if God helps me become a champion. I know that to reach my dream, I will have to work hard and fight the best fighters in the world. Right now I am feeling totally secure and confident about my skills. Let them come. I want the best opponents I can have. It is time to test myself against them."
Although he dreams of one day fighting for the belt, Palhares (11-3) is squarely focused on what a fight with Marquardt (30-8-2) would mean for him now.
"I think it would be a big step in my career, and put me closer than what I am now," said Palhares. "It is my dream, but I know I have to be ready when this time comes."