World Series of Fighting (WSOF) returns to NBC Sports Network tomorrow night (Dec. 18, 2015) with its latest mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which will take place inside "The Chelsea" at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada.
WSOF 26 will be headlined by the second title defense for Featherweight star Lance Palmer, coming little more than one year after "The Party" won the 145-pound title in Sacramento. Palmer is not one to rest on his laurels, though, and there is a strong challenge ahead of him in Alexandre de Almeida, along with a strong card for NBC Sports Network with key match ups in three different weight classes.
Let's break down the WSOF 26 main card matches below:
145 lbs.: Lance Palmer (10-1) vs. Alexandre de Almeida (17-5)
If you want to get "The Party" started, give Lance Palmer a call. He's shown clear progression in every fight since his loss to Georgi Karakhanyan in 2013, which is still the only blemish on his professional MMA record. He'd have to jump ship to Bellator MMA to get that rematch, but Palmer is very happy to be a very valuable commodity in WSOF -- a champion who has successfully defended his title.
And as long as he's sitting on that throne, WSOF will have to keep finding worthy contenders.
The promotion did just that at WSOF 24 in a "Prelims" undercard bout that pitted two unrelated Almeidas head-to-head, with Marcos Alexandre Campos de Almeida emerging the victor (we'll just call him Alexandre de Almeida for short). Little known in the United States before that bout, the Manaus, Brazil, native has been polishing up his game with Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, Nevada, for his title shot, which means jet lag should not be a factor in the bout.
Submissions are the key to Almeida's game, with 13 out of 17 wins (76 percent), including his WSOF debut, coming from his Brazilian jiu-jitsu acumen. That should strike fear into the hearts of most men, but Palmer has won 60 percent of his fights via submission, too. And Team Alpha Male (TAM)-trained fighters are known for their chokes as well as their cardio. Brazilian fighters are often victims of their own records as well, and although Almeida is on a four-fight win streak, one can't help but wonder if he has faced the level of competition Palmer did compiling it.
My answer is going to be, "No."
Final result: Lance Palmer wins via rear-naked choke in round three
155 lbs.: Ozzy Dugulubgov (7-2) vs. Nic Herron-Webb (18-6)
Ozzy Dugulubgov is looking for a third straight win at Lightweight and the potential to move into title contention without having to run the grueling WSOF 25 gauntlet. Meanwhile, Nic Herron-Webb has compiled almost three times as many professional fights and looks to prove he's next big thing to come out of Alaskan MMA.
The most surprising statistic about this fight is that the two men are only one year apart in age -- Dugulubgov being 26 and Herron-Webb actually being a year younger at 25. Herron-Webb relies almost exclusively on his jiu-jitsu, with 14 submissions and only two wins via (technical) knockout. Dugulubgov is a Renzo Gracie disciple, but has more finishes standing than on the ground, registering a (technical) knockout in 57 percent of his wins. Herron-Webb will almost certainly look to take it to the ground fast, but Dugulubgov's sprawl will lead to big hooks and elbows on feet when he can't take down Dugulubgov.
Final result: Ozzy Dugulubgov wins via second round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Josh Hill (12-1) vs. Bekbulat Magomedov (16-0)
There's a hype train going downhill at full steam for the Dagestani fighter Bekbulat Magomedov, who hails from an area of the world that in recent years has become renowned for creating MMA stars (some of whom grew up wrestling bears). This is his first fight for WSOF since the promotion announced his signing, a relatively quick turnaround that comes with a relatively high profile spot on a televised NBC Sports Network card.
Josh Hill certainly won't make it easy for Magomedov. "The Gentleman" has just one loss to date, a war with champion Marlon Moraes that went five full rounds. The obvious conclusion one can draw from this pairing is that the winner could be next in line to fight for the belt. Hill is a grinder (58 percent by decision) and Magomedov is a striker (50 percent by knockout). Magomedov will live up to the hype or wind up trapped flat on his back for 15 minutes, but I'm willing to bet he can keep it standing long enough to outpoint the game Hill ... but it will be close.
Final result: Bekbulat Magomedov wins a unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Robbie Peralta (18-6) vs. Sheymon Moraes (7-1)
Robbie Peralta wants to cause major "Problems" in WSOF's Featherweight division -- those that no other fighter can solve. He's got a long record of Zuffa-owned competition that stretches back to 2011, but it's time to test the waters in a new promotion and see if he can use his heavy hands (13 of 18 wins) to lay opponents down in the Decagon.
Meanwhile, Sheymon Moraes moves up to 145-pounds following his loss to Marlon Moraes 10 pounds lighter, hoping that an increase in size and a decrease in weight cut will give him more power and stamina. It's not a bad strategy considering many fighters seem to want to go down a weight class rather than up coming off a loss. In addition, Moraes is known for his striking (4 out of 7 wins), so the result should (knock on wood) be a high speed, action-packed slugfest.
Final result: Robbie Peralta wins via split decision
That's a wrap!
Remember: MMAmania.com will deliver live coverage of WSOF 26: "Palmer vs. Almeida" on Friday night (Dec. 18, 2015), with the first televised fight taking place at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
See you then!