World Series of Fighting (WSOF) -- the brainchild of former K-1 superstar Ray Sefo -- held its first-ever mixed martial arts (MMA) event last night (Nov. 3, 2013) at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And it was actually a decent all-around show on NBC Sports Network. It was certainly no YAMMA ... not even close.
In the main event of the evening, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski was looking to extend his win streak to four straight (I'm counting the Tim Sylvia headkick knockout that ONE FC ruled a "No Contest" because it was so great) against relative unknown Devin Cole.
It didn't take "Pitbull" long to attack.
After an initial feeling-out process, the Belarusian connected with an overhand right to the top of Cole's head, sending him crashing to the canvas in a daze. Arlovski whiffed with a follow-up hammer fist, but the next three found their marks with painful precision.
The referee was on top of the action and waived it off quickly before the abuse needlessly continued.
Arlovski did what he was supposed to do: Win convincingly over a fighter who was nowhere near his skill level. It's probably not the "big" win he'll need to earn an invitation to return to the UFC, but it's a step in the right direction in a televised main event.
That's got to count for something.
In the co-featured fight of the night, bloated Welterweight Anthony Johnson finally competed in a division his size, packing on 35 pounds to take on D.J. Linderman in a Light Heavyweight showdown. Much like the main event, this was a clear mismatch in terms of experience and skill, with "Rumble" possessing advantages in just about every single important aspect.
Especially punching power.
The 205-pound attraction got off to an inauspicious start when Johnson landed an accidental kick to the junk that brought Linderman to his knees. After he had time to recover, Johnson then apparently poked Linderman in the eye accidentally; however, the referee didn't see it nor was he about to stop the fight once again.
Linderman paid the price, walking into what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill straight right hand. But, the way in which his body responded was anything but run-of-the-mill -- it went completely limp. It was among the best planks of the second-half of 2012's fight season without question.
And it will undoubtedly be added to Johnson's ever-growing knockout highlight reel.
Miguel Torres used to have quite the highlight reel himself back when he was considered among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world during his reign of terror as World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Bantamweight champion.
My, how things -- and Torres -- have changed.
Once again, "Angel" turned in a careful and puzzling performance against two-time national Muay Thai champion and Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt Marlon Moraes that led to an uninspired split-decision defeat. Perhaps those credentials forced Torres to be super cautious or maybe he is still just ridiculously gun shy after knockout losses to Brian Bowles way back when and Michael McDonald more recently.
Torres is simply a shadow of his former self, which is unfortunate because he has the physical ability to be a very successful and fun fighter to watch.
He's holding on too tight, he has lost his edge.
Were you expecting a Gracie?
It's pretty clear what Sefo and WSOF did here and it's actually quite intelligent: Give Spong a very winnable fight that makes him potentially look better than he is and use it as the first televised bout to set the tone for the entire event.
Spong lived up to his end of the bargain, launching kicks, strikes and just about everything in his deadly arsenal as Bartlett hung on for dear life. Bartlett found a way out of the cage, finally, thanks to a straight right hand that floored him instantly three minutes into round one.
Spong, showing his amateur MMA experience, simply walked away from Bartlett rather than pouncing on him and going in the for the kill. The referee appeared to be a bit puzzled at first but then soon acquiesced, calling for an end to the 205-pound assault by way of technical knockout.
The main card fights themselves, while lopsided, were entertaining for the most part. Sure, match-making will likely be an issue down the road if WSOF continues to promote events because predictable beatdowns can get old pretty quick.
Nonetheless, it was exactly the right approach for a first offering. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. And the WSOF first impression could be considered a homerun.
Count me among the many who welcomes an encore performance.
To check out complete WSOF: "Arlovski vs. Cole" results, including under card quick results and main card play-by-play coverage, click here.
And for those who missed the live broadcast last night there is good news: The four-bout telecast will re-air tonight (Sun., Nov. 4 at 11 p.m. ET) on NBC Sports Network.