World Series of Fighting will head to "Sin City" this Friday night (June 14, 2013) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The main card will air live on NBC Sports on fight night, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event will be a welterweight contest pitting two talented veterans, Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman, against each other in a rematch from seven years ago. Both men have grown considerably since their original bout, with Burkman recently going on the most impressive run of his entire career. Fitch, on the other hand, has briefly plateaued and is hoping to return to form.
Also on tap will be a welterweight number one contender bout between top prospects Tyson Steele and Steve Carl, who both were victorious via stoppage in their WSOF debuts last November. Both men are eager to get another victory and challenge the main event winner for the inaugural 170 pound title. .
Last but not least, a pair of lightweight bouts will occur as talented grapplers Lyle Beerbohm and Jacob Volkmann are expected to throw down and top prospect Justin Gaethje takes on veteran Brian Cobb.
Our complete World Series of Fighting 3 preview and predictions are posted below.
170 lbs.: Jon Fitch (24-5-1) vs. Josh Burkman (25-9)
Fitch has a tremendous reputation as one of the most feared grapplers in the welterweight division, having dominated his opposition throughout his UFC career, taking all of his opponents out of their element and stifling their offense. While he was clearly the number two welterweight in the world for a while, a shoulder injury has really put a damper on his performance as of late. A draw with B.J. Penn, a loss to Johny Hendricks (followed by a win over Erick Silva) and another loss to Demian Maia found him employed with another promotion. He's hoping to erase those bad memories in his debut.
Burkman, on the other hand, has thrived as of late. Ever since receiving his UFC release and taking over a year off to completely refresh himself and heal from injuries, he's flourished. "The People's Warrior" has been victorious in seven of his last eight fights, most recently knocking off the likes of UFC veterans Jamie Yager, Gerald Harris and Aaron Simpson, the later victory being a dominant first round knockout. He's hoping to avenge a 2006 loss to Fitch.
The big test for Burkman's resurgence will be whether or not he can fend off Fitch's wrestling and stifling top control. No matter how much better Burkman's striking has become, it won't matter a lick if he can't get up from his back. The key for Burkman is to stay at a safe distance where he can strike with Fitch without overextending and getting taken down. Conditioning won't be an issue for Fitch as he's gone both five and three rounds with ease, so expect him to push a high pace. I'm still not convinced Fitch can return to form, even if he did look good against Erick Silva. He's been very vulnerable as of late and Burkman has a very real shot at capitalizing on it.
Final Prediction: Josh Burkman via TKO in round two
170 lbs.: Steve Carl (19-3) vs. Tyson Steele (10-1)
Carl possesses some solid wrestling ability but what really sets him apart is the fact that he mixes in some heavy hands in the striking department and some submission ability. In fact, he's been completely bulldozing his opposition as of late, overwhelming them with pure force and submitting all of his five most recent opponents inside the first round. He'll need to bring that same mindset to the cage tomorrow night.
Steele is still green, but he proved in his most recent performance against Gregor Gracie that he can overcome the odds. The talented young Canadian was in a precarious position on the ground with a Gracie on top of him, but he was not discouraged, fought through it and turned the tides, scoring a TKO victory at the end of the first frame. He can definitely pull off something similar if the cards lay out right for him.
Experience will be key in this fight, and Carl has significantly more experience against top level opposition. I feel that will be a huge factor in this bout and if Carl can impose his will, pressuring Steele and putting him in a bad position, he won't throw that position away like Gracie did and will actually be able to finish the fight.
Final Prediction: Steve Carl via submission in round one
155 lbs.: Jacob Volkmann (15-4) vs. Lyle Beerbohm (21-2)
Volkmann found himself in hot water during his UFC run. Despite winning five straight bouts at lightweight, he was never featured on the main card due to his grueling wrestling style and his penchant for bringing up his problems with the President of the United States. A string of losing two out of three fights left him unemployed, but WSOF wasted no time scooping him up.
Beerbohm was in a similar position, grinding, submitting and TKO-ing everyone in his path before a run in Strikeforce saw everything change. He was handed his first career loss by Pat Healy and then his second, this time via submission, to Shinya Aoki. He took a year off and bounced back, winning his last six fights on the local circuit, which earned him this opportunity on Friday night.
As much as I'd love to pick Beerbohm due to his finishing ability and his crazy fight night pants, he's had issues with bigger, stronger grapplers in the past. Volkmann is going to be trying to push him around, take him down and completely neutralize Beerbohm from start to finish and I don't see how he'll be able to stop him.
Final Prediction: Jacob Volkmann via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Justin Gaethje (8-0) vs. Brian Cobb (21-7)
Gaethje has shown incredible promise. An All-American wrestler out of Northern Colorado, he took a liking to mixed martial arts and made a very fluid transition, slamming his first few opponents unconscious and progressing from there. He's quickly built up his striking arsenal and showcased it very well in recent bouts, knocking out Drew Fickett in 12 seconds and most recently destroying Gesias Cavalcante with standing elbows in less than two and a half minutes.
Cobb has fought all over the place, utilizing strong wrestling ability to go along with some well-rounded striking and submission skills. He's risen to the occasion against some top competition, but has also fallen short against his most experienced opposition like Terry Etim, Antonio McKee and Ricardo Tirloni. He'll have to really push himself if he wants to keep up with the youngster tomorrow.
Cobb will give it his all, but it's very tough to pick against Gaethje, who's looked like a destroyer of worlds as of late. Gaethje is incredibly aggressive, pushes forward, throws his opponents around and overwhelms them with insane pressure. Unless Cobb is prepared to use that aggression against him, I see him becoming another victim.
Final Prediction: Justin Gaethje via TKO in round one
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire WSOF 3 fight card on fight night (June 14, 2013), starting with the online "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, right on through the NBC Sports-televised main card action, which is slated to begin at 11 p.m. ET.