The curtains part for the sport's most intriguing new promotion this Saturday. Captained by kickboxing veteran and Xtreme Couture rep Ray Sefo, the World Series of Fighting will air it's inaugural main card at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, but the fight league's undercard lineup is available beforehand through a free stream on Sherdog.com that starts at 7:45 p.m. ET.
Having walked through the featured roster in an earlier Dissection, we'll concentrate on the impressive collection of preliminary fights set for the Sherdog stream at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Five of the six undercard match ups are laden with former UFC or Strikeforce talent and watching it all transpire free of charge makes for a can't-miss preliminary appetizer.
The undercard match-ups are listed below and followed by the specs for each bout.
World Series of Fighting 1 -- Saturday, November 3
Preliminary Card: (streaming on Sherdog.com at 7:45 p.m. ET)
Ronys Torres vs. Brian Cobb
Gerald Harris vs. Josh Burkman
David Branch vs. Dustin Jacoby
Gesias Cavalcante vs. T.J. O'Brien
Steve Carl vs. Ramico Blackmon
Waylon Lowe vs. Fabio Mello
Ronys Torres is an absolute beast out of the renowned Nova Uniao academy. He's best known for a winless, two-fight tour in the UFC in 2006, but those competitive decision losses deserve a closer look: the unanimous vote against Melvin Guillard was tight enough to inspire an editorial claiming it should've been a draw. Jacob Volkmann accounts for Torres' second loss, which was a split-decision that could've gone in either direction. Though he incurred a third loss immediately after his UFC exit, Torres has quickly accrued an impressive body count since then with 11-straight wins and 8 stoppages.
Brian Cobb was not graced with much patience in the Octagon either, getting one shot against Terry Etim at UFC 95, losing via head-kick and follow-up punches and being handed his walking papers. Cobb was a standout wrestler in college, twice becoming a Pac-10 finalist and D1 national qualifier. Like Torres, Cobb's striking is average but his true venom lies in his combination of powerful wrestling and submission savvy.
Cobb has the heftier wrestling credentials and will enjoy a 3" height advantage, but Torres is a mean and broad-shouldered 5'8" with a scathing BJJ arsenal and significantly more power in his strikes (7 career TKOs vs. 3 for Cobb). This should be an evenly matched scrap with the potential for high-level scrambling and transitions, in which I give Torres a slight edge for his comparable wrestling and superior power and submissions.
My Prediction: Ronys Torres by submission.
(21-4) vs. (23-9) -- welterweight bout
The Utimate Fighter (TUF) alumni square off here, as Season 2 entry Josh Burkman meets Season 7 contestant Gerald Harris in another wrestling-oriented pairing. Initiating with consecutive 2-1 sequences, it seemed like Burkman would be a permanent fixture in the Octagon, but he fizzled out with another win followed by 3-straight defeats and an even 5-5 UFC record overall.
Harris, then a middleweight was defeated by eventual winner Amir Sadollah on TUF 7 and left the UFC on semi-controversial terms after an oddly complacent and urgency-lacking 3rd-round performance against Maiquel Falcao when he was clearly behind on the cards. Harris had been flawless in the Octagon until then with 3-straight wins, the last of which was an indelible, highlight-reel knockout via power slam of fellow WSOF fighter David Branch.
Post-UFC, Harris is fresh off a successful debut at welterweight (split decision over Mike Bronzoulis) and Burkman has won 5 of his last 6. This is a tough one to call: both are strong wrestlers, athletic, with comparable success against comparable opposition. Burkman seems a bit more consistent but the difference maker should be Harris' size and strength as a welter after a career at middleweight.
My Prediction: Gerald Harris by decision.
Branch is a Renzo Gracie black belt who complements his submission grappling with sound kickboxing skills. He split matches in the UFC with wins over Tomasz Drwal and Rich Attonito and losses to Rousimar Palhares and Harris. Jacoby is a Finney's HIT squad rep with good height for a welter (6'4") and a decent combo of striking and BJJ. He dropped both UFC turns: Clifford Starks by decision, Chris Camozzi by submission.
Jacoby has room to grow at age 24 but hasn't proven himself against upper-level competition like Branch has, who can also mirror Jacoby's strengths and should have the edge in both striking and sub-grappling.
My Prediction: Dave Branch by submission.
Having made waves overseas early in his career, ATT lightweight JZ Cavalcante didn't live up to expectations in stateside bids. In his last 8 outings, Cavalcante has 5 losses, 1 No Contest and just 2 wins. O'Brien dropped both of his UFC opportunities (Paul Kelly by decision, Cole Miller by submission) but has since pieced together a pair of wins.
O'Brien is a towering lightweight at 6'2" with a high-powered submission arsenal (17 of 18 wins by catch) and, considering Cavalcante's epic downturn in the last few years, it's too hard to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
My Prediction: T.J. O'Brien by decision.
Carl is an entirely legit but unheard of welterweight who's only lost to Dan Hornbuckle, Douglas Lima (in Bellator) and former UFCer Brian Foster. He picked up promising wins over Tyler Stinson and Brett Cooper under the Bellator banner and boasts a sturdy finishing percentage with 13 wins by submission and 2 TKOs.
Blackmon is a once-beaten product out of the Colorado Fight Factory with only 2 years of MMA experience under his belt. At 40-years-old, he'd seem unfit for a prospect like Carl were it not for his stellar wrestling background, the most notable of which is being a two-time Olympic alternate. His ungodly wrestling is reflected in his decision-heavy victories (5 of 8) and his best weapons are takedowns and control. Check out this footage of Blackmon wrestling against Josh Koscheck, a four-time D1 All-American:
That leaves the stifling properties of Blackmon's wrestling vs. the potent finishing prowess of Carl, who I think is young, hungry and talented enough to overcome Blackmon's resplendent accolades ... though I wouldn't wager on it.
My Prediction: Steve Carl by submission.
Lowe split results in the UFC with decision wins over Steve Lopez (split) and Willamy Freire (unanimous) and losses to Melvin Guillard (TKO) and Nik Lentz (submission). Lowe was a three-time national champion wrestler at the Division 2 level; he's finished 3 wins by submission and 6 by TKO, the latter being a testament to the power of his ground-and-pound.
Fabio Mello has quite a deceiving record. The numbers aren't pretty but losing to the likes of Jose Aldo, Takanori Gomi, Masakazu Imanari and Dokonjonosuke Mishima sheds a different light upon it. Mello's wins include former WEC fighter Anthony Morrison and former Pride and King of the Cage brawler Charles Bennett, which puts his level of opposition at a comparable point with Lowe's despite a lack of big-show recognition.
This is a bit of a coin-flip ... Mello's on a 7-fight surge, 37-years-old and nearly impossible to finish; the 32-year-old Lowe's won 3-straight. I think Lowe can pull this out if he's cautious of Mello's submission attacks and protects his chin during standing exchanges.
My Prediction: Waylon Lowe by decision.