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Rousimar Palhares signs with Venator FC, but WSOF vows to stop him from fighting

Guilherme Cruz,

Rousimar Palhares is back.


The controversial Brazilian grappler has been booked for Venator FC 3 against Emil Meek, has learned. The fight is scheduled to take place on May 21.

"Rousimar is a great champion who has often found himself unfairly under fire for excessive holding [alleged or real] after opponents have tapped out," Venator president Frank Merenda said in a statement. "But anyone who knows him knows that he is a good guy who never wants to hurt anyone. He's a hard worker, a serious and respectful guy who genuinely loves the world of combat sports. Above all, he has a real desire to redeem himself in front of everyone and show that he is not the "monster" that everyone talks about."

Palhares' long-time manager Alex Davis confirmed the fight, which will serve as the main event and will be for the promotion's welterweight title.

But, there's a catch.

In October, Palhares was issued a two-year suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission, as well as a $40,000 fine, for, once again, holding onto a submission for too long, this time against Jake Shields at WSOF 22. That suspension comes to an end on Aug. 1, 2017. Palhares, who successfully defended the WSOF welterweight title in that bout, was stripped of the title shortly thereafter by the promotion.

And according to WSOF president Ray Sefo, the promotion expects Palhares to honor his contract and not fight for Venator in May.

"If he takes the fight in May," Sefo stated, "that's a violation of his World Series of Fighting contract that is still active. He was suspended by the athletic commission but being suspended doesn't mean you're released from your contract."

Davis, for his part, believes the WSOF contract is now null and void and said he had a lawyer reach out to WSOF multiple times before agreeing to fight for Venator.

"They trashed Rousimar in public and then went against him in front of the commission," Davis. "They can't use him for the next two years. He needs to feed his family. And they have been notified by our lawyer as to why the contract is no longer valid. If they want, they can take it up with our lawyer.

"But from our perspective, the contract is expired."

While Davis maintains Palhares is now free to fight elsewhere, he acknowledges that fighting while still suspended by the NAC could lead to future issues in Nevada or elsewhere in the United States.

"My job as a manager is to inform my fighter of all the offers he gets and give my opinion on the pros and cons. I told Rousimar the pros and cons. At the end of the day, he needs to eat. He needs to provide for his family. So, he decided to take the fight."

Palhares, who recently became a father, has been mired in controversy for years because he has been accused of holding onto various dangerous submissions for too long. He was even cut by the UFC in 2013 after he injured Mike Pierce by not releasing a heel hook after Pierce tapped repeatedly. He then signed with WSOF, won three fights in a row and became the promotion's welterweight champion, but he was accused of the same controversial tactics at the end of all three fights.

He also tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in 2012.

Venator FC 3, which is scheduled to take place in Milan, Italy, features a slew of recognizable names:

Luke Barnatt vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs Matt Hamill
Igor Araujo vs Marvin Vettori
Che Mills vs Roberto Rigamonti
Karl Moore vs Pietro Cappelli

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