World Series of Fighting (WSOF) is back with its ninth event this weekend (Sat., March 29, 2014), featuring two anticipated title bouts atop the NBC Sports Network-televised event.
WSOF 9, which takes place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, will feature Welterweight champion Steve Carl against former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) submission specialist Rousimar Palhares in the main event of the evening.
Hopefully, the main event goes as planned, since the Brazilian is waiting to hear from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) regarding a pre-fight drug test.
In the co-main event, the always-exciting Marlon Moraes will go up against Spokane, Washington's Josh Rettinghouse for the inaugural WSOF bantamweight title. The Brazilian has won six-straight fights, while "The Finisher" is currently on a three-fight win streak.
Also on the card, former UFC middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami will make his promotional debut against Svetlozar Savov. "Thunder" was released from UFC after his TKO loss to Ronaldo Souza back at UFC Fight Night 28 back in Sept. 2013.
Rounding out the the main card, Josh Burkman is set to trade blows against Tyler Stinson, and opening up the action will be Ozzy Dubulubgov against Jonathan Nunez.
Check out a complete WSOF 9: "Carl vs. Palhares" preview and predictions below:
WSOF 9 MAIN CARD PICKS:
Welterweight championship -- Steve Carl (21-3) vs. Rousimar Palhares (15-6)
Steve Carl had a tough fight against Josh Burkman at WSOF 6 a few months back, and his fourth-round submission win was pretty spectacular to say the least.
His opponent, Rousimar Palhares has fought tougher competition in his career, going up against some dangerous guys during his time in UFC.
I think a lot of people sleep on Carl (no pun intended), and he's a lot more well-rounded than observers give him credit for. He needs to avoid the early takedown like the plague, though, since Palhares' game plan is fairly obvious and quite damaging.
If the champ can escape Palhares' early takedown attacks, and neutralize his grappling, Carl has a good chance of getting the better of the Brazilian on the feet.
Plus, will "Toquinho" enter this fight fully focused, with everything that's been going on regarding his drug test debacle?
I don't believe Carl submits Palhares, even though his seven-straight submission victories should not be overlooked, but instead, I'll say Carl takes advantage of his opponent's lack of conditioning as the fight progresses and scores a technical knockout victory -- which would be his first since 2008.
Winner: Carl by technical knockout
Bantamweight championship -- Marlon Moraes (12-4-1) vs. Josh Rettinghouse (10-2)
I'm hesitant to believe Josh Rettinghouse has the ability to keep up with the ferociousness of Marlon Moraes. The Brazilian throws with heavy leather every time he lunges forward, fearless in making it a brawl, too.
It's not like Rettinghouse is hesitant to stand and bang, but Moraes isn't the guy you want to trade with.
Coming off an impressive knockout against Carson Beebe at WSOF 6, the Florida-based fighter hasn't lost since 2011 -- with victories over Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam.
He's the best bantamweight on the roster, and arguably outside of UFC. Unless Rettinghouse has a game plan which consists of shifting levels and taking the fight against the Brazilian elsewhere, I think he's going to suffer the same fate as five of Moraes' previous opponents.
Winner: Moraes by knockout
Middleweight -- Yushin Okami (29-8) vs. Svetlozar Savov (12-4)
A lot of eyes will be on Yushin Okami in his first fight outside of UFC for quite some time. He shouldn't disappoint, either.
Svetlozar Savov has more than a chance to win this fight, but he needs to avoid Okami's grappling at all costs. From what we've seen from the Bulgarian, he's fast on the feet and isn't too shabby on the ground, either.
Okami's always been good in the striking department, capable of hitting you with a lot of power, but he's definitely more of an accurate and technical striker, rather than a brawler.
"Thunder" isn't going to keep people guessing, and will shoot early. If Savov doesn't have an answer for Okami's supreme grappling skills, you can expect a smothering courtesy of the Japanese powerhouse.
Winner: Okami by unanimous decision
Welterweight -- Josh Burkman (26-10) vs. Tyler Stinson (27-9)
This is a very interesting fight between two veterans of the sport who have seen it all, and faced their fair share of tough competition.Tyler Stinson has amassed four-straight knockout victories in his last four fights, but with all due respect to "The Evolution," the competition wasn't exactly the cream of the crop.
Former UFC notable Josh Burkman will storm through the cage like a bat out of hell to regain some momentum he lost against Carl in his last fight, since he will be out of the welterweight title picture for the rest of the year. It's got to be frustrating for Burkman that Jon Fitch is getting the title shot in July, since he submitted Fitch in devastating fashion before a failed attempt at capturing the welterweight title.
"The People's Warrior" can still be a force under the WSOF banner, and his last loss shouldn't prove too costly for him. If there's anything about Stinson's game Burkman can exploit, it can be found on the mat -- since all five of Stinson's losses due to a finish have come by way of submission.
He's got a good jaw and he could be touted as the better striker, yet I think Burkman will overpower him easily on the ground and secure the finish.
Winner: Burkman by submission
Welterweight -- Ozzy Dugulubgov (5-1) vs. Jonathan Nunez (4-0)
Ozzy Dugulubgov is an exciting young prospect to watch, already showing signs that he's ready for the spotlight once it comes shining down on him.
His opponent, Jonathan Nunez, is equally impressive, but he's probably going to be overmatched by Dugulubgov's ground game.
"Johnny Boy" isn't a stranger to jiu-jitsu competitions himself, although chances are he's in for a tough ride against the Renzo Gracie-trained welterweight.
We often see a battle between two grapplers slug it out on the feet, so don't be surprised if that happens. But, it's best to assume Dugulubgov has this one under his belt no matter where it goes.
"Ozzy" has three impressive submission victories to his name, and he should dominate Nunez on the ground until the sound of the final horn.
Winner: Dugulubgov by unanimous decision
WSOF 9 "Prelims" QUICK PICKS:
Featherweight -- Mike Corey (12-3-1) vs. Shane Krutchten (11-2-0): Corey
Bantamweight -- Sean Cantor (1-0) vs. Bryson Hansen (6-1): Hansen
Featherweight -- John Gunderson (34-15-2) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (11-1): Gruetzemacher
Featherweight -- Brenson Hansen (5-2) vs. Boostayre Nefarios (2-1): Hansen
Welterweight -- Phil Dace (9-4) vs. Danny Davis Jr. (8-8-1): Dace
Lightweight -- Gil Guardado (2-0) vs. Jimmy Spicuzza (2-0): Guardado
That's a wrap. Please share your predictions in the comments section below, so we can compare notes.
See you Saturday!