The latest event for World Series of Fighting (WSOF) took place earlier tonight (Sat., Feb. 20, 2016) inside Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, Calif., airing live on NBC Sports Network.
WSOF 28's main event was a Bantamweight title showdown where Marlon Moraes went for a record-tying third defense against top challenger Joseph Barajas (only former 155-pound kingpin Justin Gaethje has been as successful as a WSOF champion).
Did Moraes prevail or did Barajas knock him off in a huge surprise?
Moraes was content to fire off incredibly loud leg kicks until Barajas could take no more. His right leg buckled and referee John McCarthy waved it off as he crumpled at 1:13 of the first round. With his quick one-sided win, Moraes successfully becomes the second man to defend his title three times in WSOF.
Zombie Prophet illustrates how nasty the final kick was in slow motion.
The defending champion spoke to Joey Varner after the stoppage.
"First of all, I want to thank that man up there, Jesus Christ who gave me the health to be here and blessed me with my team and beautiful family. This camp was very hard. BJ, Chris, Frankie (Edgar) they helped me a lot. I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to let go (with) everything I had. Any 135-er can take that leg kick and they are going to get hurt bad. Frankie always tells me weight doesn't matter. I'm going to fight anybody. I don't want to sound cocky, but I can beat anybody. I came from nothing and I'm the champion. I will be for a long time."
Second from the top was a pair of contenders looking to challenge the Bantamweight champion. "Lucky" Timur Valiev was unbeaten in WSOF coming in, while the debuting Chris Gutierrez came in with a six-fight win streak on the line.
Did Gutierrez make it "lucky" No. 7 or did Valiev move one step closer to a title shot?
Fights fans will want to watch this one more than once to determine their scores. One judge gave every round to Valiev, who was lighter on his feet, stringing together combos and chased down Gutierrez with almost reckless abandon in the third round.
In hindsight, maybe that was because he thought he was behind on the scorecards ... and he would have been right. Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Gutierrez. The first round was close enough to go either way, but after a decisive second round by Valiev, I'm still scratching my head as to what Gutierrez did better than Valiev in round three.
Here's a second round highlight of Valiev's flashy striking techniques via Zombie Prophet.
Welterweight fights rounded out the rest of WSOF 28's main card. One such fight featured Iron Ring and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) alum Jamie Yager, coming back after a three-year layoff to face a late replacement fighter named Daniel McWilliams.
If you knew nothing about this fight other than the fact "The Animal" McWilliams had a 13-32 record going in, you could probably predict a short and decisive fight for Yager. That's exactly what we got. The hapless McWilliams was thrown to the ground after he attempted a takedown and submitted via armbar at just 39 seconds.
Zombie Prophet captured the moment for posterity.
Yager spoke to Varner about how it felt to win so fast.
"Definitely satisfying. I'm back -- back for good. 2016 is going to be my year. My friends, my family, my team, everybody who was here make some noise!! That's an old school technique I learned from my original wrestling coach. I know most people are used to seeing me use the muay thai striking but tonight we got a quick submission -- in and out."
The other Welterweight bout on tap was the somewhat middling fighter with the somewhat clever nickname Andrew "The" Ramm putting a 4-3 record up against the more successful Ozzie "The Outlaw" Alvarez at 6-3.
Ramm got got kicked square in the face with a spinning back kick 0.01 seconds before round three ended. Ramm was slumped by the strike and would have been finished with additional time, but he was already out-wrestled and outworked for the majority of the fight, leading to 30-27 X2 and 29-28 for Alvarez by unanimous decision.
Zombie Prophet shows us the finish that Alvarez ALMOST got.
Complete WSOF 28 Results:
Marlon Moraes (c) vs. Joseph Barajas -- Moraes via TKO 1:13 R1.
Timur Valiev vs. Chris Gutierrez -- Gutierrez via SD 27-30, 29-28 X2.
Jamie Yager vs. Daniel McWilliams -- Yager via sub 0:38 R1.
Andrew Ramm vs. Ozzie Alvarez -- Alvarez via UD 30-27 X2, 29-28.
Steve Ramirez vs. Kyle Estrada -- Ramirez via KO 1:01 R1.
Heinrich Wassmer vs. Keenan Lewis -- Wassmer via sub 3:02 R3.
Mike Kubeska vs. Fard Muhammad -- Muhammad via MD 28-28, 29-27, 28-27.
Garrick Evans vs. Isaias Alvarado -- Alvarado via TKO 3:21 R1.
Eric Steans vs. Jalin Turner -- Turner via KO 0:38 R1.