With each victory, Rousimar Palhares continued to rise in the rankings, but a setback to Alan Belcher at UFC on Fox 3 slowed his ascent. After the May 5 defeat, many criticized the open guard and loose legs of “Toquinho,” and some even say that the Brazilian had no other weapon than his patented foot and leg locks.
In the following interview with Sherdog.com, Murilo Bustamante, Palhares’ trainer at Brazilian Top Team, discussed what went right and what went wrong for “Toquinho” against Belcher, and how the fighter can correct the errors he made. Bustamante also talks about Milton Viera’s UFC debut as well as the promotion’s inability to hold a record-breaking event in Rio de Janeiro.
What is your assessment of Gleriston “Toninho Fúria” Santos’ victory at WOCS 19?
It was good, he did well. He has much to improve on, but he is on the right track. [Santos] lost some positions, but he dominated from start to finish. He’s a young kid, 23 years old, but experienced and a great talent. God willing, we'll sign with an overseas promotion this year.
What did you take from Rousimar Palhares’ defeat at UFC on Fox 3?
Many think that he was discouraged because he didn't get the leglock or footlock, but he made technical errors, and we've talked about them. Also, I think “Toquinho” got fatigued for insisting on those submissions.
What were the technical errors which culminated in Toquinho's defeat?
He executed the takedown well, but he did it with his head on the wrong side, and Belcher got his back. I'm sure if he didn’t make this mistake that the fight would have another result. Also, he made a mistake holding the wrist. When you grab the opponent by the wrist, it becomes easier for the opponent to hit elbows. And that's what Alan did, hit the elbow and the things began to go wrong.
Many criticized Toquinho's open guard, that his legs were loose against Belcher. What did you think of that position?
We don't work with closed guard at BTT, only if to breathe a little. Our guard is open, always attacking and threatening the opponent. But I agree that he should put his foot in the groin, pushing Belcher. He did not and relied heavily on the wrist grip. It didn't work, and he took an elbow that changed everything.
Do you think that Palhares lacked a plan B, since his opponents certainly trained a lot of foot and leglock defense?
“Toquinho” catches legs and feet very well, it is true, but sometimes he spends an entire week of workouts in the gym without finishing. He trains other things: Armbars, choke, etc. The plan was to attack the foot at the end of the round, but when he attacked Belcher, he was in position to kneebar. He attacked well, but ended up on bottom. He was very relaxed, [but] lacked feet in the groin to push Belcher. He had to take care of security and then attack.
What do you expect for Milton Vieira’s Octagon debut at UFC 147?
Milton was supposed to in the UFC a while ago. He will face a tough guy [Felipe Arantes] with good striking. Too bad the fight won't be in Rio, but Belo Horizonte will also provide support.
Do you think the people of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are upset with the UFC since the organization wanted to make [UFC 147] a record-breaking event in one of these cities?
I don't think so. Rio lost the event only because of the [United Nations Summit]. The UFC needs to travel around Brazil, not to only be in Rio.
Will you have a farewell fight this year?
I have projects. I hope to leave this year, but don't know if I have time.
Alan Oliveira contributed to this report