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World Series of Fighting 23 preview: Two titles on the line tonight

WSOF 23 goes down in Phoenix tonight with two title fights on top. Here's a brief preview of the action.

World Series of Fighting is back for their 23rd event tonight. The show goes down at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, AZ, and the headliner is a rematch for the promotion's lightweight title between champion Justin Gaethje and challenger Luis Palomino. Also featured is the light heavyweight tournament final, which will decide the first WSOF 205-pound champion.

Here's a quick look at each fight on the main card, which kicks off at 10pm ET/7pm PT and will be aired on the NBC Sports Network. The prelims start at 7pm ET/4pm PT and will be streamed right here on

Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino [LW Title] - This is a rematch, but I'm not quite sure why. While the first fight was surely exciting, Gaethje finished Palomino definitely in the third round by taking out his leg with kicks and getting the victory via GnP. I understand that they're in the process of populating the division, but I wonder how many people are all that interested in an immediate rematch that should see the same guy emerge victorious.

David Branch vs. Teddy Holder [LHW Tourney Final] - The winner will be crowned the first LHW champ in the promotion. Branch wasn't even supposed to be in this tournament (he's the middleweight champion), but injuries to pretty much everyone gave him an easy path to the finals (ie. winning one fight over an undercard guy). Holder shocked everyone by stepping up on incredibly short notice to stop Thiago Silva in the first round of their bout at WSOF 19.

I honestly have no idea which way this will go - Branch is a big favorite, but is giving up some obvious size. I have a feeling it's not going to be very exciting if Branch can control the aggressive Holder. If he can't, he could have his lights turned out pretty quickly. Then again, Branch has a pretty good chin, so who knows. I'm really decisive!

Timur Valiev vs. Tito Jones - Valiev is another Dagestani in Greg Jackson's camp that hasn't got a lot of attention so far, but he should be. He's 3-0 in WSOF and absolutely crushed Ed West in his last bout. Jones is another showcase fight for him, and my guess is that he's going to end early and violently. I hope they give him a shot at Marlon Moraes next if he does get the W.

Ben Fodor vs. Roberto Yong - I'm guessing you know Fodor by his superhero name, Phoenix Jones. He has gotten a lot of press, but dropped his first WSOF bout in at a 175-pound catchweight to the unheralded Emmanuel Walo. This bout is at 160 pounds, against an MMA Lab fighter with a 2-2 record.  I don't know what to tell you, folks. This is a gimmick and nothing more. It shouldn't be on the main card of any decent promotion, but here it is. Watch with your standards scale set to minimal.

Brian Foster vs. LaRue Burley - The winner of this bout will earn a spot in WSOF's one-night, eight-man tournament that they've announced for November 20th. Foster is a longtime welterweight that recently challenged Jake Shields for the promotion's 170-pound title. Burley is an undefeated former Bellator fighter out of Power MMA, so he's on home turf. Foster is a slight favorite in the bout, and I'd lean his way for sure if I knew how he'd actually look at LW. But there's no way to tell, so I'm not really sure how this goes down. It''ll probably be the best fight on the main card outside of the headliner though.

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