If you're craving an MMA fix this Saturday then I highly suggest taking a look at World Series of Fighting 8, which airs live on NBC Sports Network at 9 PM ET from Hollywood, Florida. There are two inaugural title fights on the line plus a light heavyweight bout between Anthony Johnson and Mike Kyle. It's not necessarily a main card filled with competitive match-ups, but I do believe we'll get some strong performances by some of the promotion's best talents.
Let's take a look at the top 3 fights on the card along with some highlights from the rest of the show:
If there's one fighter who has stood out above the rest in World Series of Fighting, it's Justin Gaethje. The 25-year-old striker out of Grudge Training Center in Colorado is 3-0 in the organization and has gone the distance just once in his professional career. Before he signed with WSOF he picked up a quick 12 second KO of MMA veteran Drew Fickett. In WSOF he's been nothing short of spectacular, picking apart Gesias Cavalcante, Brian Cobb, and Dan Lauzon, all by TKO. He battered Cobb and Lauzon in particular with a heavy dose of leg kicks, and truth be told Lauzon's corner shouldn't have allowed him to fight on one working leg in round 2.
If Kazushi Sakuraba is the "Gracie Hunter", then Patishnock is the American equivalent. Okay he's not, but both of his wins in WSOF have come against the famous Gracie clan. He won by TKO (injury) against Igor Gracie and then beat Gregor Gracie in September by unanimous decision. The common theme was the ability not to get outmuscled and taken down in addition to the near-default advantage just about anyone has against a Gracie in the striking department.
Make no mistake about it, Patishnock was option #3 in the list of title challengers. "JZ" Cavalcante pulled out with an injury and Lewis Gonzalez did the same, so Patishnock is an underdog an a large one at that. Gaethje is just a much better fighter than Patishnock and certainly a superior striker, so unless you're down to see an early contender for upset of the year, Gaethje is probably going to wreck shop and get the stoppage within 2 rounds.
Aguilar is presently the #1 women's strawweight in the world and she'll have a chance to back that up by finally holding a championship belt. She lost (controversially) to Zoila Gurgel in the Bellator semifinals in 2010 and has gone on an impressive run of 7 consecutive victories, including two over the legendary Megami Fujii. She's a high level grappler with good submissions and an ability to dominate her opposition on the ground.
Gray is a heck of a story because she's only been competing as a professional since June of last year and yet here she is competing against the top 115 lbs in the world for the WSOF title. If you want to see evidence of her KO power, check out this video of her performance against Soannia Tiem. She loads up with a wicked right hand and pops Tiem flush on the jaw to earn the knockout win. Three of her four wins are by knockout or TKO, with the other win coming by armbar submission.
I think Aguilar is too much too soon for Gray, and while Gray definitely has a hell of a punch and looks like a great addition to the WSOF roster, the experience talent discrepancy will show here in a big way. I've got Aguilar winning with a 3rd round submission.
Anthony Johnson (15-4) vs. Mike Kyle (20-10-1, 2 NCs) - Light Heavyweights
"Rumble" is back at light heavyweight after a one-off win against Andrei Arlovski at heavyweight. The fearsome striker was the whipping boy of the MMA world for his repeated inability to make weight at both welterweight and middleweight in the UFC. After missing weight by double-digits ahead of his MW fight against Vitor Belfort, the UFC cut him following his 1st round submission loss. He's found a home at light heavyweight where he's looked outstanding, scoring a head kick win over Jake Rosholt and then a one-punch KO against D.J. Linderman in his WSOF debut. This is Johnson's last fight under his WSOF contract, and with a win against Kyle I do believe that he has earned a second shot at the big time.
Kyle's WSOF debut came against Andrei Arlovski in September when Johnson withdrew from the original booking due to injury. It was a change of opponent, a change of weight class, and the result was a decision loss. It looked for all intents and purposes that he'd retired following a submission defeat against Gegard Mousasi in Strikeforce, but he took fights against Arlovski and Travis Wiuff (who he KO'd in 21 seconds) and is in tonight's co-main event against Johnson.
There's no doubt that both of these men have brutal KO power, but the striking advantage definitely goes to Rumble in my book. His head kicks are lethal and his speed will pose huge problems for Kyle. Johnson also showed a damn good chin against Arlovski, who while clearly on the downswing is still a heavy-handed fighter. Kyle is best served not getting into a brawl and even going for the takedown, but realistically speaking I don't see him posing much of a problem for someone as talented as Anthony Johnson. I'm going with Johnson by 1st round KO in emphatic fashion.
Best of the Rest
You might remember Bollinger from TUF 18 and his inability to make weight for the quarterfinal fight with Anthony Gutierrez. He broke down on the show and was removed from the competition, and he wasn't given a UFC contract. Bollinger immediately signed a contract with WSOF and was paired up with Nam, who rose to prominence by knocking out Bellator's bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas in Brazil back in 2012. WSOF signed him and paired him up with Marlon Moraes, but Moraes had his way with him and KO'd him with a head kick in less than 3 minutes.
Patino is 40-years-old and has been in the sport long enough that he once fought Pat Miletich for the UFC welterweight title. The Brazilian is still going strong in 2014 and has beaten plenty of credible competition recently (notably Efrain Escudero, Mike Bronzoulis, and Wagner Campos). He won both the Legacy FC welterweight and lightweight titles before losing his belt late last year. He's a high-level BJJ black belt with great submissions and is more than capable of getting a KO win like he did against "Jacare" way back in 2003. Palomino was a regular in Bellator for a few seasons before he was released following a submission loss to Pat Curran in 2011. The Peruvian has basically stayed in the Floridian regional scene in recent times, along the way picking up a KO win over Gesias Cavalcante. But Palomino, who favors his boxing in just about all of his fights, comes into WSOF on a 1-2 run in his last 3, including a loss to Escudero.
Okay, this isn't necessarily "best of the rest", but if you haven't followed WSOF lately, Mehmen is the guy who made Rolles Gracie perform a rousing rendition of the Ric Flair Flop as he dove right into unconsciousness. It's one of the funniest KOs you'll ever see and Mehmen is competing on tomorrow night's preliminary card.
Bloody Elbow will provide live play-by-play of tomorrow night's show as well as a full results recap complete with GIFs from Zombie Prophet.
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