WSOF 11, set for July 5th at Daytona, Florida, has already undergone a series of matchmaking changes, and has lost the allure of its original line up, which was to feature welterweight champion Rousimar Palhares defending against fellow former UFC veteran Jon Fitch.
One fight on the main card which is flying under the radar is the opening scrap between former TUF contestant Cody ‘Bam Bam’ Bollinger and Florida’s Pablo ‘The Hurricane’ Alfonso.
Alfonso had been quietly building a name for himself in a career spanning thirteen years, taking in such promotions as Strikeforce and Jungle Fights before the call from WSOF.
"Strikeforce was a dream come true," Alfonso told BloodyElbow. "But WSOF have just signed a deal with NBC and it’s a great opportunity for them and the fighters."
A black belt under No Gi legend Daniel Valverde at MMA Masters in Miami, Alfonso credits the camp with reversing a three fight losing skid.
"I tried a few camps (including American Top Team) and had great training but they weren’t for me. MMA Masters is a family and they give me the confidence and training that gets me wins."
No surprise seeing that MMA Masters counts ex-UFC title contender Ricardo Lamas amongst its pupils.
"Ricardo Lamas is a great fighter," said Alfonso when asked about his training regimen. "He's very strong and well-rounded and his cardio is insane. He never stops going."
Now on a three fight winning streak and coming off the biggest victory of his career, Alfonso has no regrets about his losses, which include current UFC bantamweight Pedro Munhoz (#10 in the 2012 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report)and former WEC 135lb champ’ Chase Beebe.
"They are good name fighters and I was happy to have time in the cage with both."
Despite the loss to Beebe, Alfonso had a chance to redeem himself when he got a call to face Beebe’s conqueror, former bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, a heavy favourite going into the bout.
"I have always been the underdog. I never search for easy fights. Before I was a fighter I went into a gym and said ‘I’m going to be a fighter’. They laughed and beat me up." Alfonso laughed at this memory. "They took me seriously when I kept showing up."
Given just three weeks notice from the World Series of Fighting, it only took a few minutes for the Fort Lauderdale native to show Torres he was a man to be taken seriously, stunning the favourite with a barrage strikes before forcing him to submit to a tight guillotine.
Torres, now on a three fight losing streak himself after tapping to Alfonso, gave his opponent props, but also blamed a change of attire before the bout started for the loss. Alfonso however, didn’t have any bitterness towards Torres for his excuses when asked.
"After a fight you try to understand why it happened (the loss), that’s all.
Torres’ words have done nothing to quell the rise of ‘The Hurricane’, who now finds himself jumping from the prelims to opening the main card of a network televised card.
His opponent, the aforementioned Cody Bollinger (#9 in the featherweight rankings in the 2012 Bloody Elbow scouting report) is coming off a close win over Tyson Nam, but is perhaps most famous for being kicked off The Ultimate Fighter by an irate Dana White for missing weight.
Alfonso sympathises with him for having to make weight on short notice within the confines of the reality show, but also admits it’s a big part of fighting.
"I cut thirty pounds and prepare for over a month. The drop is never easy, but I wrestled in high school and I know what it takes (and) always make weight."
Bollinger may have failed to make a good impression on The Ultimate Fighter, but a 14-2 record and being the first pick for Team Tate gave him significant upside when bartering his contract with World Series of Fighting, allegedly worth six figures. It’s clear that WSOF has big plans for him.
Pablo Alfonso hopes to take that hype from him when they meet on July 5th in a bout to determine the number one contender to WSOF’s bantamweight title.
"Be ready Bollinger. I’m in my prime and a win will get me a title shot."
Like so many other fighters that have yet to hit the big time, Alfonso compliments his pay packet from battling in the cage by working. Yet he has no qualms with his contract.
"I have four fights left on my contract" he said. "I'd like to continue with them after" (his contract finishes)
One fighter who has only has a few fights left on his contract is the highly-touted Nova União product Marlon Moraes. Standing at the top of WSOF’s bantamweight rankings, and their inaugural champion, Moraes is already the subject of speculation from fans who want to see him take on the best in the world in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Alfonso, the former XFC champion at bantamweight, hopes to get his shot before Moraes jumps ship.
"He’s well-rounded, a great fighter and I hope to see him soon."
After his big win over Torres, the Floridian has shown he deserves to be in the discussion. Against Bollinger at WSOF 11, Pablo Alfonso will look to put a stamp on his claims for title contention by being be the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida since Okeechobee.