Morning Report: Rousimar Palhares considering drop to welterweight

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Two facts are widely accepted about Rousimar Palhares. First, he's built like a fire hydrant. Second, he'll try to rip your leg off. But now, reeling from back-to-back first-round knockout losses, Palhares may be considering a change to the former.

The 33-year-old musclebound middleweight recently underwent a "series of clinical and physical" weight loss tests to determine the viability of a potential drop down to the welterweight division, according to a report from GracieMag.

"My desire to get down to the welterweight division is great, but I don't want to make a hasty decision," Palhares said in a statement. "I will only really do it if my body's response is positive. I'm doing a fully integrated work of nutrition, fitness, supplementation and orthomolecular medicine. I'm with a very good team taking care of me."

Standing 5-foot-8, with a reach of just 71 inches, Palhares is easily the shortest fighter of the UFC's middleweight roster. He carries a 7-4 record in 11 UFC contests, but is currently serving a nine-month suspension due to a failed drug test for elevated levels of testosterone in the wake of his UFC on FX 6 to Hector Lombard, so a change of scenery might not be such a bad idea.

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6 MUST-READ STORIES

Palhares considering welterweight drop. Struggling UFC middleweight Rousimar Palhares told GracieMag that he was undergoing a series of clinical and physical tests to determine the viability of a potential drop to 170 pounds.

Kongo update. French heavyweight Cheick Kongo posted an update on Facebook clarifying his status with the UFC. "Do not believe everything you are told," Kongo wrote (translation via Bloody Elbow). "I'm in the best position to know about my career in the UFC. And do not worry. For now, know that I have not dismissed the UFC and I'm on good terms with the American organization. I'm out of contract, as I've been before. ... So I say to you, unless proved otherwise, I'm still a UFC fighter."

Mayweather rolls. Floyd "Money" Mayweather easily handled Robert Guerrero on Saturday night, earning a unanimous decision win via three 117-111 scorecards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Video.) In doing so, Mayweather retained his WBC welterweight title and improved his undefeated record to 44-0.

Alvarez rips Rebney, Viacom. Former Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez unloaded a barrage of frustrated tweets on Friday night decrying Bellator's business practices and promising to "tell the truth" on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

Starks released. Middleweight veteran Clifford Starks earned his Zuffa pink slip following a spectacular flying knee KO loss to Yoel Romero at UFC on FOX 7. Starks racked up a 1-2 record inside the UFC, defeating Dustin Jacoby then losing two straight to Ed Herman and Romero.

Pettis responds to Diaz. Featherweight contender Anthony Pettis jokingly accepted Nate Diaz's challenge, telling BJPenn.com: "I heard his interview and it just makes me laugh. I mean, the guy just got head kick knocked out by a pretty good striker, but for him to call me out, it's funny to me because my striking is one of the best in the lightweight division. I think he's trying to keep his name relevant and trying to stay in the mix ... If he does want to fight, I'll take an easy payday."

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MEDIA STEW

A year ago Cain Velasquez smashed Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. In a few weeks he'll try to make it 2-for-2.

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Yep, that's Georges St-Pierre training out in the tropics of Phuket, Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai.

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Your obligatory international first-round KO of the day, with a side order of dance rhythms. (For the lazy, jump to 0:40.)

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I'm now fully expecting a capoeira style knockout at UFC 163, Mr. Pettis. Don't disappoint.

Props to @jeremymellinger for the find.

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Akira Corassani, stepping up to the plate. Respect.

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You guys are killing it lately with these Silva vs. Jones trailers. Chills, I got 'em.

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BONES UPDATE

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REACHING A BREAKING POINT

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ENJOYING THE RIDE

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RETURN OF THE GRIM

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MRS. MAYDAY

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THE MAN KNOWS WHAT HE WANTS

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WINNER

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, May 3, 2013 - Sunday, May 5, 2013):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes to us courtesy of dpk875, who has a few ideas for: Investing in the Sport

Back in 1980 there were 9 baseball players signed out of the Dominican Republic for an average of about $1200 per player. Now over 300 players a year get signed, with the best commanding million dollar paydays while still 16 or 17 years old. Dominican players make up over 10% of the MLB roster, and 25% of the minor league rosters. There has yet to be a single MLB player from the country they share a border with, Haiti. Why? A commitment to scouting, developing, and a level of economic desperation to get out of a dirt poor country are a few answers. Starting in the early 1980's MLB teams began opening baseball academies where they could identify and train the best talent from an early age. Many of these academies have evolved from poor, run down facilities into modern complexes that would fit in with the spring training complexes used by major league teams. All along teams have fought to keep the MLB draft out of the Dominican so that each team does not risk losing on their investments to other teams

But this is an MMA site, so why should anyone care about baseball players from the Dominican Republic? It comes back to the growth of the sport, and expanding into countries without a strong MMA base and tradition. The first three that come to mind are China, India and Mexico.

UFC makes no effort to hide the fact that they want in on the sports market in the two most populated countries in the world. The Mexican, and Mexican-American communities have supported numerous boxers, and UFC would love to get some more talent on the roster in an attempt to gain some traction in this market. To this point they have been hindered by a couple of things, Lack of a major TV deal (which they are working on), and a complete lack of UFC level talent at any weight class coming out of the countries (Currently 2 x Chinese Fighters, and 1 x Mexican Born fighter on the UFC roster). The training camps, and regional fight scene infrastructure is just not there.

I think it would be in the UFC's best interest to use it's connections, and financial influence to improve the training and development infrastructure in some of these new markets. Some options that they have are

1.) Sponsor fight team partnerships. Work with Greg Jackson, Grudge, Rufus Sport, AKA, ATT, AMA, AllianceMMA, Alpha Male, Renzo Gracie, Serra-Longo, Tri-Star, Nova Uniao, etc... to develop working relationships with teams in these countries. A regular series of in-depth seminars, fighter, and trainer exchanges for a month or two at a time so that it really can mean something. UFC brought a handful of fighters from China back to Las Vegas to train for a month last year... why not expand this program, and formalize it with some of these top teams.

2.) Sponsor BJJ Black Belt, Muay Thai fighters, and Wrestlers to work in these gyms (Think of Jake Butler and how he found himself a job at EvolveMMA). Make sure these gyms have well rounded classes being offered.

- As far as the wrestling is concerned, this could be done in conjunction with the save Olympic Wrestling Campaign... why just try to save the sport, but try to expand it. Getting more kids onto a wrestling mat, will eventually get more kids into a MMA fight.

- Once the BJJ, Muay Thai, and Wrestling classes are established, UFC can work with the schools to hold competitions for each discipline, and Amateur MMA between their sponsored schools.

3.) Offer some money to these gyms so that they can keep their prices low, or even free for some students. Parts of India, China, Mexico, and many of the other targeted countries are depressingly poor... yet when you look at the Baseball model in the Dominican many of the players have a strong desire to improve their lives through sports. It also has shown through with some of the MMA fighters from Brazil (Palhares, and Aldo come to mind).

4.) For some gyms making a commitment might be just providing a TV, DVD player, and then DVD's of all the UFC, Pride, and Strikeforce fights. Jon Jones has talked about watching fights, and martial arts stuff on YouTube and then mimicking the moves in the mirror... why not use the extensive Zuffa video library to inspire a next generation that may not be able to watch on a regular basis.

5.) Work with regional promotions such as RFA, King of the Cage, Jungle Fights and Ring of Combat to identify top fighters from these countries and fly them in to compete at these shows for a step up in competition. It also never hurts to find out a guy might have issues with his Visa application before he is on a UFC poster.

6.) More and more quality, well rounded Mixed Martial Artist retiring on a monthly basis these days than ever before... where do they go for their next job? Not everyone can announce for UFC like Florian, and Sonnen or own their own gym. I think of guys like Keith Jardine, Jason MacDonald, Miguel Torres, Mark Hominick, Tim Credeur, Eric Schafer, Kyle Kingsbury, and Joe Stevenson who have a ton of skill and knowledge to pass on, but haven't made enough to retire for life off the sport (I know that a few of those guys have their own gyms... just throwing them in there as the type of fighter who could be approached). Maybe they would take advantage of a steady salary provided by UFC to go live in a foreign country for 3-6 months at a time and work with some of these teams while at the same time being UFC's eyes and ears on the ground for promising prospects.

The risk that UFC runs is that they will potentially be stealing title shots, and belts away from fighters from their proven markets in the North America, and Brazil. But on the other hand, if they hit it big with a handful of fighters from India, and China then they can break into two countries that have almost 1/3 of the world's population combined.

I think UFC really can make a decision on how quickly they want results, and contenders from these key markets. Countries traditionally rally behind their successful countrymen in sports, especially combat sports. Does UFC want to let MMA take it's natural course, or speed up the process. Do they want to wake up five years from now, and see Indian, and Chinese MMA at a level of where Irish MMA is now... where they are just starting to make in roads to the UFC? Or do they want to push the issue, and see more talented, skilled, and well-rounded fighters from the massive, and traditionally lucrative markets coming into the UFC in 2-4 years.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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