We're in the midst of a busy UFC season, but this weekend, the Octagon will be dark. But fear not fight fans - World Series of Fighting has you covered. WSOF 4 is live on the NBC Sports Network this Saturday, August 10. The main card will air live starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, with the prelim card available as a live stream on Sherdog.com starting at 8:00 p.m. ET. Join us here at Bloody Elbow Saturday night for live WSOF 4 fight coverage.
Here's the full World Series of Fighting 4 fight card, followed by preview and predictions:
Tyrone Spong (1-0) vs. Angel DeAnda (11-2)
It's pretty rare in this era to have a 1-0 fighter headlining a major MMA broadcast, but Tyrone Spong is a pretty rare fighter. A decorated Muay Thai fighter and kickboxer, Spong has been flirting with the MMA world for some time, training with the Blackzilian camp. He made his MMA debut at WSOF 1 last November, dominating his 5-2 (at the time) opponent and winning in just over 3 minutes. Here, he looks to go 2-0 against a slightly tougher, but still not ultimately competitive, opponent.
There are a lot of fighters who come into MMA with impressive sounding kickboxing pedigrees, and sometimes it can be hard to sort out what is legit. To be clear - Tyrone Spong's record is legit. In kickboxing, he's currently one of the top 5 Heavyweights in the world and has won 8 in a row. His last loss came against Alistair Overeem in 2010 in a fight where the much smaller Spong gave Overeem all he could handle. With over 10 years pro experience, Spong has won countless major titles in both kickboxing and Muay Thai, and he's done it while steadily moving up in weight. He is, simply put, one of the best strikers on the planet, and if he continues to focus on MMA, he has the potential to be a future UFC world champion.
Opponent DeAnda is, sorry to say, an afterthought here. He makes his WSOF debut against Spong. Prior to this, his most high profile fight was a 2010 loss to James Irvin in Irvin's first post-UFC fight.
The real question here is not if Spong will win - he clearly should - it's how much of a draw he will be. After running shows headlined by Andrei Arlovski, Anthony Johnson, and Jon Fitch, Spong is the first non-UFC fighter WSOF is banking on to bring in eyes. The ratings for this one will say a lot about what kind of impact the WSOF and Tyrone Spong brands have made so far.
Prediction: Tyrone Spong by KO
This is a pretty fantastic fight right here, as former UFC stand-out Tyson Griffin faces the former #1 Lightweight in the world, JZ Cavalcante. Griffin was a fixture of the reignited UFC Lightweight division back in 2007-2008. He seemed on the cusp of title contention before a 1-4 run in 2010/2011 derailed his momentum and got him cut from the company. He's since had one win - a 2012 decision victory over Efrain Escudero. A longtime Xtreme Couture trainee, Griffin has very solid wrestling, striking, and the cardio to grind his opponents down.
Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante was Lightweight king of the world back in 2007 when he dominated the K-1 Hero's promotion. A nasty striker, JZ had an incredible string of highlight wins during those glory days. But like so many fighters from the Japanese scene, he's never really recovered from the implosion of Japanese MMA a few years ago. Since Hero's closed in 2007, JZ is just 3-6 with 2 No Contests. He's been in Dream, Strikeforce, and WSOF, but has yet to make his mark in the US. He's also suffered so many injuries over the years that his best days are clearly behind him, though he did pull off a great heel hook win at WSOF 1.
Had you made this fight in 2007, it would have been incredible. Today, it should still be a very entertaining fight, but potentially more one-sided as Griffin should be able to dominate his way to a grinding win. Key word: SHOULD. A Griffin decision win is the easy pick here, but JZ remains dangerous, and fans who remember a mostly shot Takanori Gomi KOing Griffin will be quick to point out that Tyson's chin may not hold up against the striker. I'll go with my heart and pick the upset.
Prediction: Gesias Cavalcante by KO
This one is somewhat similar to the main event - you have a kickboxing great taking it to MMA. Here, it's WSOF president Ray Sefo representing kickboxing as he steps out from behind the desk and into the ring. Sefo is just 2-1 in MMA, and has not fought under these rules since a 2010 submission loss to Valentijn Overeem in Strikeforce, but has spent a lot of time training MMA with the Xtreme Couture team over the years. But it's not the MMA experience that people care about here; it's the kickboxing experience. Again, let's get a quick reality check.
If you're talking lifetime achievement in kickboxing, Sefo's career actually trumps Spong's, and significantly. He's one of the top 10 K-1 Heavyweight fighters of all time, with years of incredible battles and wins to his name. His 2001 war with Mark Hunt may very well be the best fight in the history of K-1. Sefo stands alongside Jerome Le Banner as the best K-1 fighters to never win the big Grand Prix crown, and he's better than some of the men who did win it.
That said, he's also 42, and has had only one kickboxing fight since 2010 (a 2012 loss to Mirko Cro Cop). Sefo is a legend, but he's essentially a retired legend.
As in the Spong fight, this one is all about the kickboxer, but unlike the Spong fight, he's facing a pretty decent challenge. A 7 year pro, Huckaba is not exactly a UFC caliber fighter, but he's had good experience. He's coming off a January win over another former K-1 fighter, Carter Williams. But he tends to favor a more brawling style that is short on stand-up technique. I have to think Sefo made this fight with Huckaba as a beatable opponent in mind, so I'll give him the nod, but I won't lie - this one makes me nervous for the K-1 great.
Prediction: Ray Sefo by TKO
Interesting fight here as Moraes is the first fighter who really feels like a "WSOF" guy. Making his company debut at the inaugural event, Moraes was largely an unknown, seemingly brought in as cannon fodder for former WEC champion Miguel Torres. Instead, Moraes took the fight to Torres, winning via split decision. He followed that up at WSOF 2 with a first-round KO of Tyson Nam, fresh off his win over Bellator champion Eduardo Dantas. The win over Nam was a beautiful display of kickboxing strategy, as Moraes used leg kicks to soften Nam up. Once Nam began dropping his hand to catch the leg kick, Moraes went high with a head kick, earning the KO win. That kind of intelligence in striking is impressive, and makes Moraes an exciting talent to watch.
Brandon Hempleman makes his first step up to a big stage here. He's a fast paced, gritty fighter with heavy hands who is exciting to watch. He also has a tendency to leave himself open in exchanges, and against the more technical Moraes, that will come back to hurt him.
Prediction: Marlon Moraes by KO
The undefeated Nick Newell makes his WSOF debut here to kick off the main card. An ATT fighter, Newell has put together a good record and is coming off a Lightweight title win in XFC. He's also gained a lot of attention for reaching this level of success despite a physical condition that would seem to hinder an MMA career. Newell's left arm ends just below the elbow, meaning he has no left hand and only limited use of his left arm. Despite this, Newell has found a lot of success so far in MMA. He tends to not strike much with the left arm, but is very effective with his right arm and kicks, and has also been able to use his left arm effectively in grappling, winning 6 of his 9 fights via submission. He's an obvious PR story, but this is a big chance for him to show that he deserves to be recognized simply as a fighter, not merely the "one-armed" fighter.
Like most of the fights on this card, this is one that seems built to highlight one fighter, and it's not Keon Caldwell. The 23 year old is a 6-year pro who, like others on the card, is facing a step up to the bigger stage here. He's in an unenviable position going against the feel-good story of Newell, and I don't see him being able to play spoiler here.
Prediction: Nick Newell by submission
A couple of surprisingly big names are on the prelims, again, available as a live stream at Sherdog:
- Headlining the prelim card is a battle of UFC veterans as Jorge Santiago faces Gerald Harris. Santiago has had a great career pretty much everywhere but the UFC. A former Sengoku champion, Santiago is a very good striker with solid submissions who has not been able to find success in the UFC. He's 1-5 inside the Octagon - during that same time period, he's 13-1 outside the UFC, with those wins coming against many notable opponents. Gerald Harris is another good striker and is 4-2 since being released from the UFC in 2010. He's coming off a WSOF 1 loss to the resurgent Josh Burkman.
- Antonio McKee also sees action on the prelims. The 43 year old McKee has been a decision machine in the IFL and MFC, using his wrestling to smother opponents and win. He earned a UFC shot in 2011, was smothered himself by Jacob Volkmann, and promptly released. McKee is coming off a loss to Shinya Aoki where he submitted to strikes. Yes, that's correct, he submitted to the strikes of Shinya Aoki. He takes on the 8-0 Lewis Gonzalez.
Join us Saturday August 10 for live coverage of World Series of Fighting 4, live on NBC Sports Network.