Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Rousimar Palhares Never Hurt Anyone in Our Gym

John HeinisSenior Analyst IOctober 18, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 28: UFC heavyweight fighter Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira weighs in at the UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira Weigh-In at the Rose Garden Arena on August 28, 2009 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Ex-UFC fighter Rousimar Palhares has been getting decimated in the court of public opinion ever since he held a heel hook on Mike Pierce for a little too long at UFC Fight Night 29 last week. 

Finally, someone has come to the defense of "Toquinho": his current coach, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The legendary Pride competitor had nothing but good things to say about Palhares when he spoke to MMA Fighting


"I can say that in our gym, ‘Toquinho’ has never hurt anyone," Rodrigo Nogueira said in a written statement. "He is a good person, excellent company and a man with a great character. I believe that he has never thought of doing anything evil to any opponent because this isn’t his conduct. I don’t question UFC’s decision because the people who are in control have a global view of the business and they understand it better than anyone in the whole business that involves our sport."

"Big Nog's" twin brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, echoed his sibling's positive sentiment regarding Palhares, who was cut from the UFC one day after they reviewed his submission win from last Wednesday. 

"I've known Rousimar for years," Rogerio Nogueira said. "As an athlete he’s a phenom, and as a person he’s loved by everyone, especially for his simplicity. Anyone who knows the history of his life will be enchanted with his modesty and dedication to the sport. ‘Toquinho’ was always the first to arrive and the last to leave the gym, always a great help to our athletes, and we’re sure he will continue to do so because Team Nogueira will always be by his side."

The testimony of the Nogueira brothers, who run Team Nogueira out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a far cry from the statement made by Brazilian Top Team's Murilo Bustamante, the former coach of Palhares' who said the 33-year-old leg-lock specialist routinely injured teammates in practice

Palhares was released after an 8-4 run inside the Octagon, with the UFC releasing an official statement citing the Brazilian's previous suspension for not releasing a heel hook, as well as a failed drug test, for reasons why they could no longer have him on their roster. 

To further pour salt in the wound, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has come out and stated his company has no interest in Palhares in the interest of fighter safety, per TMZ

As a matter of fact, the highly-regarded Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt won't even be able to compete on the mats this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championship. 

According to MMA Fighting, the tournament organizers removed Palhares from the competition roster when his camp did not respond to calls or messages confirming Toquinho would still be fighting.

Will Palhares be able to bounce back from all this controversy, or will this recent indiscretion eventually leave him looking for a job in a new field?


John Heinis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Editor for