Mario Sperry, Renzo Gracie Defend Released UFC Fighter ‘Toquinho’ Palhares

By: Marcelo Alonso
Oct 16, 2013
Palhares (left) has support from some of Brazil’s MMA icons. | Alan Ribeiro de Oliveira/Sherdog.com



The UFC’s dismissal of Rousimar Palhares following his Oct. 9 submission victory over Mike Pierce has provoked a range of different reactions in Brazil.

Judging by message boards and social media, the majority of Brazilian fans supported the promotion’s decision to cut “Toquinho” for holding on to a kneebar after Pierce had tapped. However, some have voiced disapproval, asking for another chance for the Brazilian welterweight.

Last week, Brazilian Top Team coach and co-founder Murilo Bustamante told Fighters Only that Palhares had injured teammates in similar situations during training in the past. Former BTT coach Mario Sperry this week denied the statement.

“I don’t remember him hurting teammates in an intentional manner,” Sperry told Sherdog.com. “He hurt others and got hurt just like any other athlete. To tell you the truth, I remember seeing him hurt more than hurting others. I think he should have paid more attention to the reaction of his opponent and the referee. He also had several problems with athletes who tapped and continued after he released the submission hold without the referee interrupting. In my view, this can hamper your judgment on when to release the submission even more in the middle of a fight.”

But, even in defending Palhres, Sperry said he understood the position of the UFC and its, president Dana White.

“It’s a difficult position for Dana, as he has to manage the world’s largest MMA event,” said Sperry. “Making a realistic assessment with the events that happened in and after the fight, I’d fire him to show that where there’s excellence, there’s no room for mistakes. However, I would hire him back, because Toquinho is a great fighter for any event.”

Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Renzo Gracie also defended his countryman via Twitter on Monday.

“I just watch the fight and I have to reinforce it... He had no ill intent. His opponent went on the wrong direction,” Gracie wrote. “So, if there’s injury involved, it has more to do with the way his opponent try to get out than his intentions... We are in a fight business. If we will begin a witch hunt, the intensity of our sport will be gone. We are supposed to get hurt.”

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