World Series of Fighting will head to "The Garden State" this Saturday night (Sept. 14, 2013) at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Headlining the main event will be a heavyweight attraction between Mike Kyle and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski. For more on that fight, please click here. We'll be previewing the rest of the main card below.
The big draw on the remainder of the card is the middleweight title tournament which features the likes of Dave Branch, Danillo Villefort, Elvis Mutapcic and Jesse Taylor. It will be Mutapcic's and Taylor's promotional debuts, but they've more than earned the right to vie for the belt with their recent performances elsewhere.
Also on tap will be a heavyweight bout between Rolles Gracie and Derrik Mehmen and perhaps the most interesting fight of the night will be a featherweight attraction between Georgi Karakhanyan and Waylon Lowe.
Our complete World Series of Fighting 5 main card preview and predictions are below:
185 lbs.: Dave Branch (12-3) vs. Danillo Villefort (14-4)
Branch had a serviceable run in UFC, but was released after being submitted by Rousimar Palhares. He's done a solid job since, only losing a catchweight bout against Anthony Johnson at Titan FC. The Renzo Gracie-trained fighter has gone 2-0 thus far in his run with World Series of Fighting, beating both Dustin Jacoby and Paulo Filho soundly.
Villefort was praised for his talent both in his ground game and his ability to stand and bang if need be. He returned from a lengthy two-year layoff to beat Ultimate Fighter season 11 finalist Kris McCray via split decision in his promotional debut and punched his ticket into the tournament. He's hoping with a complete training camp he can bring back the hype that used to surround him.
Branch's best bet is to use his grappling offensively and try to get Villefort to the canvas and on his back. Branch is long on the feet, but he's not much of a stand-up fighter and if he trades with Villefort, he could get himself in trouble if he's clipped. Look for Branch to either put this fight in the clinch or on the ground where he'll be in control.
Final Prediction: Dave Branch via decision
185 lbs.: Elvis Mutapcic (13-2) vs. Jesse Taylor (26-9)
Mutapcic is a very talented striker, possessing a dynamic kickboxing offense capable of finishing opponents with both his punches and kicks. He can put anyone away if he lands cleanly, look no further than top UFC middleweight prospect and TUF Brazil winner Cezar Mutante, who he obliterated in just 25 seconds. He makes his WSOF debut after winning and defending the MFC Middleweight title.
Taylor was the much publicized finalist for The Ultimate Fighter season seven who was pulled from the show for his behavior after advancing. He made his mark on the regional circuit ever since, but seems to have put it all together as of late, winning six straight including a decision victory over TUF season three winner Kendall Grove.
Mutapcic is the guy to watch in this tournament, training with top Iowa wrestlers to help defend against the trio of grapplers in the field, he possesses the best stand-up by a landslide. If he can put his hands or legs on his opponents while remaining upright, he's in prime position to really make a name for himself. Also, Taylor just does not do well against the guys who really know what they're doing, and Mutapcic does.
Final Prediction: Elvis Mutapcic via TKO in round two
265 lbs.: Rolles Gracie (8-1) vs. Derrick Mehmen (15-5)
This fight seems made just for a chance to showcase Gracie's ground skills. Mehmen is a light heavyweight, but he's moving up in weight for a feature opportunity on a WSOF main card. Gracie has only ever been defeated in his lone UFC bout after gassing horribly in the second round, but he's looked serviceable ever since.
Look for Gracie to get this fight to the canvas and work over Mehmen until he's been tapped out. Mehmen's only chance is if he can avoid getting taken down or getting dominated on the ground long enough for Gracie to tire out, but he should have fixed those issues by now.
Final Prediction: Rolles Gracie via submission in round one
145 lbs.: Georgi Karakhanyan (21-3-1) vs. Waylon Lowe (14-4)
Now this is the fight I'm most looking forward to breaking down. Karakhanyan has been on one hell of a roll ever since a rough stint in Bellator against two of the promotion's top fighters. He's won seven straight fights, including an impressive win over Hiroyuki Takeya in hostile territory late last year at Dream 18. He's most recently coming off a gutsy performance against Din Thomas where he got the win despite being sick as a dog. This will be his debut in WSOF.
Lowe had a respectable 2-2 stint inside the Octagon, but he's really looked solid since dropping down to featherweight. The former wrestler has really gained confidence in his hands, scoring four straight stoppages due to strikes including a ferocious knockout over Cameron Dollar in his WSOF debut this past March.
As much as Lowe's hands have improved, he's still not on Karakhanyan's level in the striking department, particularly due to the Armenian's diversity of attack. If Karakhanyan mixes up his attack, throwing kicks, knees and punches, he'll be much more difficult to predict on the feet, and don't discount his ground game either. He's very dangerous if put on his back. I think Lowe's run of solid performances ends on Saturday night.
Final Prediction: Georgi Karakhanyan via TKO in round two