Mar 01, 2017
Lance Palmer will step into the Decagon at WSOF35 as one of the most-hyped 145-pound fighters in the world. Not only will he be facing a highly-touted opponent in Andre Harrison, he’ll be facing the high expectations of the MMA community who expect his to deliver one of the most exciting featherweight match-ups of the year.
Palmer is riding high after regaining his title from Alexandre Almeida at WSOF32 via majority decision. The Team Alpha Male member is overflowing with confidence and believes he is the best featherweight in the world.
Before Palmer steps into the Decagon at WSOF35, get to know a little more about the man defending the Featherweight Title at Turning Stone Resort Casino on March 18, live on NBCSN.
Before carving out a career in mixed martial arts, Palmer was a determined and successful wrestler. He wrestled over 150 matches at the high school level before competing for Ohio State where he would eventually become a NCAA Division I All-American wrestler.
The featherweight champion admitted that former Ohio State wrestlers and MMA vets Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman were his first inspirations when it came to him pursuing a career in mixed martial arts. In fact, it was Coleman who suggested it to Palmer because he felt his wrestling style “suited” the sport.
For Palmer, being a wrestler and using those skills in the cage is all about the bottom line – winning. Therefore, for the 145 lb. champ, it’s not worth the criticism. “I don’t criticize anyone for just standing and banging. I don’t criticize anybody for just getting it to the ground for a submission. So I don’t criticize anyone for just going out there and wrestling.”
Palmer first fought for the featherweight crown in his promotional debut, a young 7-0 MMA fighter against Georgi Karakhanyan at WSOF7. Unfortunately he suffered his first professional loss that night earning another shot one fight later when he won the championship against Rick Glenn at WSOF16. In his second title defense against Alexandre Almeida at WSOF26 a controversial decision saw him lose his title, but he regained the strap after a hard-earned majority decision victory at WSOF32.
Palmer’s transition into MMA came with ease and quickness. He accepted his first professional MMA fight after only one month of training eventually earning him a 7-0 record before his WSOF tenure.
According to Palmer, the creator of his fight name “The Party” was Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber. Palmer said the name originated during his freshman year at Ohio State when he was late for an athlete orientation. Upon walking into a room with 700 other athletes he yelled, “alright, who’s here for the gang bang!” to break the ice and the rest is history.
Palmer’s grappling pedigree is well documented after six submission and five decision victories in his 11-2 career. After winning his featherweight title back at WSOF32 he explained to MMAJunkie, “My passion in MMA has been to finish somebody with strikes, and I’ve yet to do that… that’s one thing where people say, ‘He’s just a wrestler, he’s just a grappler.’ I want to finish somebody with strikes.”
Prior to his WSOF days, Palmer held the RFA featherweight title back in 2013. He won the title via split decision against Jared Downing only 6 fights and two years after his professional debut.
In a moment of vented emotion after losing his featherweight title to Alexandre Almeida at WSOF26, Palmer admitted the camp was lacking the education and support he needed. Although the media felt he was alluding to a camp move while TAM was in the midst of losing T.J. Dillashaw and Joseph Benavidez; Palmer admitted he expressed things he shouldn’t have. Now his allegiance to the camp has been unquestioned.
It’s clear wrestling has and always will be an incredibly important part of Palmer’s life. He plays on that passion by volunteering as a Virginia Tech assistant wrestling coach outside of the long hours he dedicates to MMA.