World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 33: "Branch vs. Magalhaes" was at Kansas City Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., last night (Fri., Oct. 7, 2016), a stacked card for NBC Sports Network that saw five fights scheduled for television. The original main event was unfortunately canceled the day of the show because Ozzy Dugulubgov fell ill before his fight with Justin Gaethje. The Lightweight champ, Gaethje, addressed the situation in a live interview.
"I thrive under those lights, man. I work my butt off for this. For all the true fans that really appreciate my effort every time I step in there, I'm sorry for this. My best wishes to (Dugulubgov). The last thing I want to do is step in there with ill intentions toward somebody that's not feeling 100 percent. It's something you have to be prepared for. It's not something I can't control. I was so ready for this. I thought about Jason High even though he was five pounds over -- I think he still said no. I will be headlining Madison Square Garden. They haven't told me yet, but I will put on a show. December 31st ... I'll be there."
The promoted main event was dual weight class champion David Branch defending his Light Heavyweight title against submission wizard Vinny Magalhaes. Branch was also "undefeated" in a sense -- 8-0 in the Decagon overall.
Magalhaes tried to lure Branch to the ground early off a phantom knockdown in round one. Branch didn't buy it. In the second round, he didn't need to fake it -- Branch walloped him with a left, eventually let him back up, then did it to him again. Magalhaes survived a battering second round that saw the doctor have to clear him to continue for round three.
Not much changed from that point forward. Magalhaes continued to be battered standing, missing with desperation overhands and head kicks. Most hit nothing but air. End-swell was definitely needed by the fifth round as Magalhaes was battered and bruised on every facet of his face. The result was evident long before the judges rendered a verdict.
50-44 was the score from every observer. Branch spoke to Joey Varner after his dissection of Magalhaes.
"I listened to my corner. They told me to stay behind my jab, that's my most dangerous weapon, and everything comes behind the jab. I was disappointed in my last performance because I promised a knockout and I didn't (get it). This one I kept trying to rush it but I'm still growing as a champion as a fighter, just like everybody else who puts it down inside the 10 corners of doom -- the Decagon. It's just the hurt business you know. Both of us were just trying to get each other out of there. That's the name of the game."
"Kansas City Bandit" Jason High looked to stamp his name on the list of future contenders for Gaethje with a third straight win, but "Brazilian Samurai" Joao Zeferino stood squarely in his way.
High seemed hellbent on finishing the fight early when he jumped for a guillotine choke, but Zeferino survived and pulled out, then spent the rest of the fight beating up the hometown favorite. Several shots stung High, but it was a clean right hand in R3 that led to a TKO stoppage High felt was early at 0:51.
Zeferino spoke to Joey Varner afterward. He only had one thing to say before departing.
"Justin Gaethje, December 31st at the Garden. That's it."
Luiz Firmino could also put his name down as a No. 1 contender with another win, but Brian Foster upset Joao Zeferino in the WSOF 25 tournament. And after coming up short once befire, he wanted to earn another shot at Gaethje. Foster may be able to make the argument he earned it, even though Firmino did all of the arguing when he was caught in a triangle. He told both Foster and the referee something was wrong after tapping out and was visibly upset.
Foster spoke to Joey Varner after his big win in the Decagon.
"After a fight like that man there's only one thing to say yo -- welcome to World Series of Fighting ONLY on NBC Sports. Man, I'm not even gonna ask, but World Series knows what's up. Somewhere down the line I want it back. Please give me that shot back. He did an amazing job (Gaethje) beat me, but please GIVE ME MY SHOT BACK!"
Firmino tried to explain his position in a backstage interview with Joey Varner.
"I stopped for two seconds because I wanted to see the referee because this is illegal, you know? Because he can't throw the kick inside the guard. I'm very mad. I never do this you know? When he throw the illegal kick it's no good, and the referee see it and do nothing. I'm very mad because I trained hard, I know he's a tough guy you know, but it came to this. I don't see sorry you know? This illegal you know?"
Firmino feels Foster should have been disqualified for what you see in the video below.
Veteran fighter John Howard was out to notch the 25th win of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Abubakar Nurmagomedov was out to prove he deserved a shot at the Welterweight champion with one more "W" in WSOF.
You could argue that Nurmagomedov fought a conservative and careful fight, but his takedowns proved to be more than Howard could handle. His only mistake was looking up at the big screen to see how much time was left late in round three and getting popped by a hard right. Howard sprawled to block the takedown in response, but then tried to jump guard for a submission that let Nurmagomedov on top to seal the win (29-28 x2 and 30-27).
Promotional newcomer Shawn Jordan came to WSOF to prove he was still "The Savage," but to do so he'd have to get into a scrap with fellow newcomer Ashley Gooch.
Jordan didn't make "quick work" of Gooch, but aside from one brief flurry from Gooch early there wasn't much doubt. Once Jordan wobbled him with right hands he got a surprising single leg takedown and eventually took the back and flattened Jordan out for a technical knockout at 4:40 of round one.
Joey Varner hit the cage after the official announcement for an interview.
"I've been down for a year, thanks to World Series of Fighting for giving me a home, hopefully I prove myself and do well for them. I've seen a few of his fights and he recovers well, I was surprised those last two didn't drop him. Thank you guys man, I enjoyed it."
Because of one title fight being scrapped a fight originally set to headline the "Prelims" undercard was moved to live television -- a rematch between "Lucky" Timur Valiev and Chris Gutierrez. Even though Gutierrez stunned Valiev with an upset the first time they met, the commentators acted like that fight never happened ... and so did Valiev. He out-struck his opponent and took him down multiple times for all three rounds en route to a 29-28, 30-27 X2 unanimous decision.
Complete WSOF 33 results:
David Branch vs. Vinny Magalhaes -- Branch UD 50-44 X3.
Brian Foster vs. Luiz Firmino -- Foster via sub (triangle choke) 3:14 R1.
Jason High vs. Joao Zeferino -- Zeferino via TKO 0:51 R3.
John Howard vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov -- Nurmagomedov UD 29-28 X2, 30-27.
Shawn Jordan vs. Ashley Gooch -- Jordan via TKO 4:40 R1.
Chris Gutierrez vs. Timur Valiev -- Valiev UD 29-28, 30-27 X2.
Jesse Brock vs. Bekbulat Magomedov -- Magomedov 29-28 X2, 30-27.
Abu Azaitar vs. Mike Arrant -- Azaitar UD 30-27 X3.
Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. Bobby Cooper -- Magomedkerimov SD 30-27 X2, 28-29.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Brandon Phillips -- Mitchell via sub (triangle) 3:14 R2.