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Rousimar Palhares talks shirtless photo that went viral, what’s next for him in MMA and grappling

Rousimar Palhares (GC)
ADCC veteran Rousimar Palhares returns to the grappling mats on Aug. 18.
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Rousimar Palhares is eight days away from a grappling match with rising jiu-jitsu sensation Craig Jones at KASAI Pro 3, but the topic of the week on social media was a picture of “Toquinho” that went viral.

Posing alongside light heavyweight fighter Richardson Moreira, who competed once in the UFC as a heavyweight, “Toquinho” is sporting a new haircut, mustache, and appears to be heavier than ever.

”I did that for fun,” Palhares told MMA Fighting about his haircut and mustache. “A friend of mine is working as a hair stylist now and wanted to do that haircut, so I let him do it, and some guys came over to the gym on the same day for interviews. Everyone is talking about it. Some people like it, some people made fun of it, but it’s cool.

“[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 [laughs].”

As for his size — and the doping accusations he has received on social media, given his history of failing a 2012 drug test for elevated levels of testosterone — Palhares pays no attention because “people say whatever they want to try to diminish your work, so that doesn’t bother me at all.”

Currently weighing 212 pounds, Palhares says his days as a welterweight are over. Coming off a 58-second loss at FNG after missing weight, “Toquinho” will move back to middleweight going forward.

”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.”

Unsure of when and where he will fight next in MMA, the 38-year-old Brazilian focuses solely on his upcoming match with Craig Jones on Aug. 18. Jones is a fellow heel hook specialist with grappling wins over the likes of Jake Shields, Chael Sonnen and Murilo Santana, and “Toquinho” expects “a war.”

”I’m sure he hasn’t [faced anyone like me]. Not with this kind of pressure,” Palhares said. “I see myself winning, you know? I’ll tell you this, I want the finish. People say I only have heel hooks, but I never had the opportunity to show anything else [laughs].

”He’s probably training a lot of defense and stuff, but he knows what’s coming. Everybody knows. That’s his move, too, but when a match starts everything can change. I’m ready for a great match and it’s going to be fun.”

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