World Series of Fighting is staging their seventh event tonight, and their first one north of the border. The upstart MMA promotion is bringing the show to the Agrodome in Vancouver, BC, and features a nine-fight event with four fights on the main card. The preliminary bouts kick off at 6pm ET/3pm PT and will be streamed live on Bloody Elbow. The main card begins at 9pm ET/6pm PT and will air on NBC Sports Network. Everyone outside of North America can watch the main card on the same stream that the prelims are on. You can also follow along with the Bloody Elbow live commentary and play by play.
The four-fight main card features bouts at featherweight, middleweight, lightweight, and light heavyweight. The main event is a five-round bout for the promotion's inaugural featherweight title, with former Bellator fighter Georgi Karakhanyan meeting Team Alpha Male's Lance Palmer.
I'll preview each main card fight and offer a prediction here. I'm also attending the show, so I'll write up a fan perspective of the event tomorrow. I'll also be doing some live tweeting from the show, so follow me @TB_Money if you feel like it.
Lewis (13-8) has been a fixture on the Canadian fight scene for over six years now and had a long run in the Edmonton-based MFC organization. He has fought UFC vets in Ryan Jimmo and Wilson Gouveia, and also competed against current Bellator champ Emanuel Newton. He's generally a standup fighter with 7 KO's to his name (and two submissions due to strikes).
You likely all remember Starnes (15-8-1) from his run on The Ultimate Fighter and his goofy last UFC bout with Nate Quarry. Since leaving the UFC back in 2008 he has bounced between middleweight and light heavyweight and is currently on a three-fight winning streak. One of those wins came at heavyweight over former UFC fighter Tim Hague. Most of his wins have come by submission, but two of the last three fights have seen him finish with his hands.
Prediction - I would expect Starnes to try and either get the fight to the floor or fight from the outside. Lewis hits harder than him and I don't think he wants to engage in a firefight with him. Lewis is bigger and is a slight favorite betting-wise, and I think that he's a good bet to pick up a TKO or decision victory. My pick - Dwayne Lewis.
Fadai (7-2, 1 NC) is another MFC vet that WSOF has picked up. Newell was originally supposed to face Gesia Cavalcante, but scheduling issues ruled that out and he is fighting Fadai instead. Fadai hasn't fought any big names and went 1-1(1 NC) in three MFC bouts.
Newell (10-0) is one of the brightest prospects on WSOF's roster and is becoming as well-known for his skills as he is for fighting with just one arm. He has only gone to a decision once in his 10 wins, picking up 7 victories by submission and two by TKO, all in the first round.
Prediction - This is likely going to be pretty lopsided. Newell will inevitably look for the takedown and will probably pick up an early submission victory. Fadai is pretty much an unknown quantity though, so there's always the chance of a surprise. Still, the smart money's on Newell. My pick - Nick Newell.
Mutapcic (13-2) was supposed to fight Taylor back in September in New Jersey but the state athletic commission scrapped the bout due to some weird complications. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak and holds wins over TUF Brazil winner Cezar Ferreira, Zak Cummings, and top prospect Joseph Henle. He was also the MFC middleweight champ. He's never been finished in his career and is well-rounded with 5 TKOs and 6 subs.
Taylor (26-9) is best-known as the guy that made the TUF 7 Finals but was removed from the bout for busting up a car and making a scene at a hotel. He ended up getting a UFC bout anyway but was submitted by C.B. Dollaway and set adrift. In the past five years since then Taylor has fought an astounding 26 times all over the world, going 20-6 and collecting a variety of middleweight titles. He is currently on a six-fight winning streak and has finished 19 of his 26 wins overall.
Prediction - This bout is the semi-final of WSOF's middleweight tournament. Mutapcic is the more talented of the two fighters, but he's going to have trouble dealing with Taylor's wrestling and cardio. Taylor's never been stopped by strikes and has only lost one decision in his career, so it's likely that Mutapcic will have to out-grapple him if he wants to finish the fight. This is a tough fight to call and I can see it going to a close decision. My pick - Elvis Mutapcic.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Lance Palmer - WSOF featherweight title (5 rounds)
Karakhanyan (22-3-1) is a submission grappler based out of California that has competed in a variety of organizations around the world but is probably best-known for his run in Bellator. He participated in two of their early featherweight tournaments in 2010, losing to Patricio Freire and Joe Warren. Since his release he has gone 8-0 and won the Tachi Palace Fights 145-pound title, which he has defended once. He defeated Waylon Lowe by first-round submission in his WSOF debut
Palmer (7-0) was a four-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Ohio State University and is a member of the vaunted Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento. He holds wins over Fredson Paixao and Jared Downing, and has finished three of his seven wins overall. He replaced Rick Glenn, who was supposed to be fighting Karakhanyan for the belt but had to bow out with an injury.
Prediction - This should be an interesting style clash. Palmer is a wrestler and obviously relies on those skills in the cage. His striking is coming along but isn't very crisp yet. He didn't look great at all when Downing was able to stop his takedowns early, but he persevered in the later rounds and won a close decision. If Karakhanyan can stop his takedowns, he has enough skill to take out Palmer with his hands. But I don't think he can stop them.
Karakhanyan could definitely sub him from the bottom and he'll probably get the best of things on the feet, but unfortunately for fans, I think this is going to be a top-control grind for 25 minutes. I really hope I'm wrong though. My pick - Lance Palmer.