World Series of Fighting will be staging their third event tonight in the Joint at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, NV, and I'm here to provide a preview for the event. The show will kick off with a five fight undercard that will be streamed live on Bloody Elbow. That kicks off at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT. The four-fight main card kicks off at 11pm ET/8pm PT and will air live on NBC Sports Network.
This preview will take a look at the four main card fights, give the odds on each, and I'll pick a winner. You know, basically just like every other preview we do around here minus the betting stuff. So, let's get down to it.
Cobb (20-7) and Gaethje (8-0) are on different ends of the spectrum in the sport. While Cobb has competed in the UFC and other bigger organizations like MFC and Sengoku, Gaethje is a rising lightweight prospect that got his first taste of the big time when he fought at WSOF 2, and he came though with flying colors when he defeated Gesias Cavalcante by doctor stoppage in the first round. Cobb won his initial WSOF fight as well, taking a split decision over Ronys Torres in the first event.
Both men are strong wrestlers, but Gaethje has the edge in both credentials and technique. Cobb is more well-rounded and probably has the better submission game, but he can't match Gaethje's aggression or surprising striking. It's a very good test for the prospect, as Cobb probably doesn't get the credit he deserves for being such a tough out. Overall though, this is probably Gaethje's fight to lose.
Pick: Gaethje by decision
Beerbohm (22-2) and Volkmann (15-4) bring some high-level experience to the WSOF cage. Beerbohm was a longtime Strikeforce prospect that went 4-2 under their banner, while Volkmann was a mainstay in the UFC for a few years, going 6-4 overall (and 6-2 at lightweight). Both men are making their WSOF debuts.
This fight is pretty easy to analyze in my eyes. While Beerbohm has gotten bigger over the years, he's still not as big as Volkmann. And while he's a talented submission artist, Volkmann is a very strong wrestler with good submission defense. Neither is anything too special on the feet, but I highly doubt this fight takes place there anyway. Volkmann will take Beerbohm down and stifle him for three rounds. And hopefully decide not to say anything controversial if he's interviewed after the fight.
Pick: Volkmann by decision
Carl (19-3) and Steele (10-1) both won their WSOF debuts emphatically and have now been matched up against each other. Carl has competed for M-1 and is probably best known for a four-fight run in Bellator where he went 2-2. He has won five straight since he left Bellator, finishing all five in the first round via submission. Steele is a 26-year-old Canadian prospect that has competed in the MFC and stopped Gregor Gracie in last bout.
This is a tough bout to call, but the difference to me is wrestling. Both men have solid submission games and can hang on the feet, but Carl can probably control where the fight takes place. I don't like picking against a Canadian and I'll be rooting for Steele, but I have to go with experience here.
Pick: Carl by decision
Fitch (24-5-1, 1 NC) and Burkman (25-9) will be engaging in a rematch of their 2006 bout that saw Fitch win by submission. Fitch is obviously well-known for his long UFC run where he challenged for the welterweight title and went 14-3-1 in 18 bouts. After a loss to Demian Maia, the UFC deemed him too expensive and sent him packing. Burkman was a TUF 2 contestant that went 5-5 in his 10 UFC fights. He was released in 2008 and has gone 7-1 since then, including two wins in WSOF so far. The last came over Aaron Simpson by knockout in March.
Obviously this fight comes down to Burkman keeping Fitch off of him. Fitch can strike if need be, but he's always been much more interested in getting the fight to the ground and grinding away. Burkman's takedown defense is good, but Fitch's takedowns are unique and he's not going to be able to stop him. If Fitch plays it safe grappling, he can take this easily. If we see the Fitch we saw against Erick Silva, it could be a little more interesting. Still though, I don't see Burkman having the power to put Fitch away or the grappling to take a decision. Jon Fitch all the way baby.
Pick: Fitch by decision