The latest event for the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) took place last night (Fri., Sept. 18, 2015) at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz., airing live on NBC Sports Network with two world title matches featured, both delivering impressive and satisfying finishes.
Headed into the night's main event the always confident Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje predicted that he'd finish Luis Palomino more violently than he did the first time. Not only was it a bold prediction, it was an intriguing one given their first match was a "Fight of the Year" candidate.
What happened this time? Short answer: More of the same. Shorter answer: INSANITY.
Palomino hurt Gaethje early in round one, but he rolled through on the ground, pushed Palomino into the fence and got a much needed takedown. Palomino popped back up, but it gave Gaethje the time he needed to recover. Gaethje then returned the favor with a nasty uppercut and controlled the rest of round one.
True to his word, Gaethje was faster in this fight than the last one, as we didn't even need two full rounds to settle it. "The Highlight" stayed on the offensive -- and even when Palomino landed good shots he seemed to either walk through them or cover up enough to survive, which is exactly what led to him landing the knockout right hand when Palomino dropped his hands after a combo.
The finish came at 4:30 of round two (Zombie Prophet illustrates):
Gaethje spoke to Chael Sonnen after the fight:
"I thought we fought for like 10 seconds. Hell yeah, it must have been better (than the first) because it felt good. This is an unbelievable feeling right now because you guys are all here to share it with me. I love you guys."
Second from the top featured a fight to determine the inaugural Light Heavyweight champion for WSOF. Teddy Holder looked to repeat his upset of Thiago Silva and claim the title, while Middleweight champion David Branch sought to become the organization's first dual title holder.
Holder is well known for his first round knockout power, but Branch never gave him the chance to use it. By clinching up after a half-minute and following with a takedown, Branch made it an entirely one-sided fight. He stood up to rain down blows against the fence, went back down to side control, elbowed Holder in the head, transitioned to the back and sunk in the rear-naked choke at 2:21.
It was nearly a flawless victory (as seen in the Zombie Prophet visual):
Branch spoke to Chael Sonnen after the fight about becoming WSOF's first two weight class champion:
"This is for my son right here. I'm here, I love you. For 85 and at light heavyweight I'm gonna take some time off and get nice and healed up. You want my belt? Come and take it from me. I ain't goin' nowhere! All I see is gold. Nobody's taking what I got. I came from the gutter, from nothing! Clifford (Starks) wants to come and get some of me? Come and get some. I'm knocking you out. Straight like that. WHAT!"
A Bantamweight bout on the card had the potential to crown a new contender for Marlon Moraes, as Timur Valiev looked to notch his fourth straight win in WSOF against journeyman fighter Tito Jones.
Jones was on his bicycle for almost the entire first round, but the strategy seemed to work when he grabbed a Valiev leg kick and popped him in the face for a flash knockdown. In the second, more frequent leg kicks and an important takedown helped even the affair. More of the same in the third seemingly sealed the deal. The judges scored the contest 30-27 x2 and 29-28 all for Valiev.
Caped crusader Phoenix Jones looked to rebound following a frustrating WSOF debut, and seemed to have a hand picked opponent to do it in the 2-2 Roberto Yong. Missing weight for a 160-pound catchweight fight, though. raised questions about whether or not Jones was taking it seriously.
Indeed he was. Though Jones was in danger for a few of the striking exchanges, he finished it on the ground with the extremely rare scissor submission finish around Yong's neck at 3:09.
Zombie Prophet illustrates:
Jones spoke to Joey Varner after his first WSOF win:
"I made this t-shirt -- it says Emmanuel Walo sucks! Every time you buy a Phoenix Jones shirt you get a free Emmanuel Walo shirt. One more thing: WSOF universe, all you guys out there, I'm living my dream! You can write me, Twitter, Facebook, all those messages -- I'm not listening. I'ma be in this cage every day. I'm in the gym every day. You got a problem with me? Come get me. Holla at ya boy!!"
The night's opening main card bout saw former Ultimate Fighting Championship Welterweight Brian Foster drop to Lightweight to face the undefeated LaRue Burley. This one didn't take long -- 32 seconds in fact -- before Foster creamed Burley with a right hand to end his night.
Zombie Prophet shows us how it looked:
Foster spoke to Joey Varner after the fight about his performance:
"It was expected man. We prepared. We've got some of the best coaches in the world. I've got the most experienced corner in the game. I'm coming for that title -- Mr. Gaethje better be prepared."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" undercard action that aired exclusively on WSOF.com.
Complete WSOF 23 Results:
Justin Gaethje (c) vs. Luis Palomino: Gaethje via TKO 4:30 R2.
David Branch vs. Teddy Holder: Branch via RNC 2:21 R1.
Timur Valiev vs. Tito Jones: Valiev UD 30-27 X2, 29-28.
Phoenix Jones vs. Roberto Yong: Jones via sub (scissors choke) 3:09 R1.
Brian Foster vs. LaRue Burley: Foster via KO 0:32 R1.
Brian Grinnell vs. Vagab Vagabov: Vagabov via TKO at 2:29 R2.
Krasimir Mladenov vs. Clifford Starks: Starks UD 30-27 X2, 29-28.
Danny Davis Jr. vs. Matthew Frincu: Frincu SD 28-29, 30-27, 29-28.
David Nuzzo vs. Andres Ponce: Nuzzo UD 29-28, 30-27 X2.
Joey Miolla vs. Randy Steinke: Miolla via KO at 3:55 of R2.
Jeff Fletcher vs. Benny Madrid: Madrid via sub (RNC) 1:26 R1.