The latest event for World Series of Fighting (WSOF) took place earlier tonight (Sat., Oct. 17, 2015) at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., airing live on NBC Sports Network with two world title matches featured, as well as an important showdown in the Welterweight division.
Leading up to the main event, Jon Fitch predicted his fight with Yushin Okami would be a title eliminator, which makes sense given that former 170-pound champion Rousimar Palhares was recently stripped of the belt. Either way, it would be a grueling fight for both men, especially given this was former Middleweight fighter Okami's first cut to Welterweight.
The first round was largely a stalemate. The second and third rounds were controlled by Fitch with takedowns and dominant positions on the ground, tying up Okami and leaving him unable to do anything offensive. The result was a classic UFC-style performance from Fitch, leading to scores of 29-28 and 30-27 X2 in his favor.
In the co-main event, Heavyweight champion Blagoi Ivanov was set to make his first title defense, facing a man who once competed for the inaugural title in Derrick Mehmen. Would Mehmen make good on his second chance at gold?
In a word: No. He may have been stunned by an unintentional head clash early, but it was the consistent left hook of Ivanov over two rounds that rang his bell and split open his skin. Mehmen's face was a bloody mess late in round two and he kept wiping away his eyes to see, leaving Ivanov the opening to drop him with a left at 4:33.
Zombie Prophet has the visual of the finish.
In a fight that was originally scheduled for Mashantucket in April, two former UFC fighters collided at Light Heavyweight as Vinny "Pezao" Magalhaes fought Matt "The Hammer" Hamill, with both bragging rights and rankings to fight WSOF dual title holder David Branch on the line.
Hamill might have had the fight in hand when he stung Magalhaes with an uppercut in the first round, but he made the mistake of going to the ground with Magalhaes, a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament champion many times over worldwide. Once Magalhaes grabbed the knee bar Hamill was forced to tap at 1:08 of the first round.
Zombie Prophet illustrates:
Magalhaes spoke with WSOF's Joey Varner after the conclusion of the fight.
"It feels pretty good. Every time I win a fight it's by finish so I didn't think it was going to be any different today. I got him in the first round, that's my first ever knee bar victory in MMA."
Varner then told Magalhaes that he'd be the No. 1 contender for Branch if he won an eliminator fight against Thiago Silva in January. Magalhaes seemed to want the fight and not want it at the same time.
"I think it's awesome. I'd like to fight somebody that's coming off a win, or wait for Branch, but it's not a big deal to fight him. It's up to Ali and Ray."
WSOF filled some time on the broadcast by announcing the Lightweight tournament brackets for WSOF 25 on Nov. 20, 2015, at Comerica Theatre.
Islam Mamedov vs. Jorge Patino and Brian Cobb vs. Mike Ricci make up the upper half of the set, while Brian Foster vs. Joao Zeferino and Luis Palomino vs. Rich Patishnock make up the lower half.
Ray Sefo spoke to Chael Sonnen about the tournament:
"We bring the World Series of Fighting fans another element of excitement. I've been in K-1 tournaments for 15 years and there's no feeling like being in that core group of guys. The fact of the matter is come November 20th, eight men enter, one man wins - and that guy gets the opportunity to fight for the Lightweight title."
WSOF 24 also saw the return of popular Lightweight fighter "Notorious" Nick Newell in what seemed on paper like a highly winnable fight for him against Tom Marcellino.
Newell escaped a possible guillotine choke after a takedown in the first round, then went for a guillotine and an armbar. He got neither, but showed himself to be the superior grappler with his takedowns. The second round was virtually rinse lather repeat of the first, though referee Dan Miragliotta stood them up with 20 seconds left ... and then the bell rang early.
In the third round an exhausted Newell seemed to go into survival mode, pulling guard late in the fourth minute. It worked -- the judges gave a 29-28 times three to "Notorious" Newell. Marcellino seemed unhappy and was talking smack to Newell after he got his hand raised by the referee.
In an interview not broadcast on NBC Sports, Newell announced his retirement from MMA after the fight.
Rounding out the night's action on NBC Sports was a bout to inaugurate a Flyweight champion between two undefeated fighters: Donavon Frelow (5-0) and Magomed Bibulatov (9-0).
Bibulatov was the aggressor throughout all five rounds of the contest, and seemed to treat it like an exhibition of his striking ability, throwing lots of spinning back kicks and backfists. Bibulatov used takedowns effectively to seal the rounds.
At one point in the fifth round Bibulatov went for a cartwheel kick, drawing a comparison to "Showtime" Anthony Pettis from the commentary team. Only the second round seemed close enough that it might go to Frelow. The judges ultimately ruled 50-45 X3 all for Bibulatov.
Sonnen spoke to him afterward:
"A lot of people believe in my victory. I'm so happy for my victory today. I have very good opening but I was ready for everything on the ground, standing, everywhere. I had a hard camp and I was ready."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" undercard action that aired exclusively on WSOF.com.
Complete WSOF 24 Results:
Jon Fitch vs. Yushin Okami: Fitch via UD 29-28, 30-27 X2.
Blagoi Ivanov (c) vs. Derrick Mehmen: Ivanov via TKO at 4:33 R2.
Vinny Magalhães vs. Matt Hamill: Magalhaes via sub (knee bar) 1:08 R1.
Nick Newell vs. Tom Marcellino: Newell via UD 29-28 X3.
Magomed Bibulatov vs. Donavon Frelow: Bibulatov 50-45 X3.
Rick Glenn vs. Adam Ward: Glenn via KO 1:27 of R2.
Alexandre de Almeida vs. Saul Almeida: Alexandre via sub 1:23 of R1.
Rodrigo Almeida vs. Bruce Boyington: Boyington via SD 29-28 X2, 28-29.
Justin Torrey vs. Rex Harris: Harris via SD 29-29 X2, 28-29.
Washington Da Silva vs. Colton Smith: Smith via UD 30-26 X3.
Pat Walsh vs. Tyler King: Walsh via UD 30-27 X3.