Justin Gaethje will go digging for lightweight gold in the WSOF 8 main event. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Justin Gaethje has arrived at his desired destination, on the doorstep to a major mixed martial arts championship.
The undefeated Gaethje will challenge the once-beaten Richard Patishnock for the vacant World Series of Fighting lightweight crown in the WSOF 8 headliner on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The winner will join welterweight Steve Carl and featherweight Georgi Karakhanyan in the pantheon of current WSOF champions.
Spawned by the Grudge Training Center, Gaethje has finished all three of his opponents since arriving in the World Series of Fighting. The 25-year-old last appeared at WSOF 6 in October, when he knocked out Dan Lauzon with second-round punches at the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla. Gaethje has delivered nine of his 10 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Patishnock -- who replaced the injured Lewis Gonzalez on short notice -- will carry a two-fight winning streak into the high-stakes matchup. The 26-year-old last fought at WSOF 5 in September, when he captured a unanimous decision over Gregor Gracie at the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Based out of Team Chamber MMA in Pennsylvania, Patishnock has also spent time with the AMA Fight Club, where he trained alongside Jim Miller, Charlie Brenneman and others.
With the Gaethje-Patishnock lightweight title fight as the centerpiece, here are 10 facts surrounding WSOF 8:
FACT 1: Blackzilians representative Anthony Johnson owns an 8-0 record outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
FACT 2: Mike Kyle is one of seven men to have held the King of the Cage light heavyweight championship, along with Vernon White, Jeremy Horn, Tony Bonello, James Lee, Tony Lopez and Trevor Prangley.
FACT 3: American Top Team’s Jessica Aguilar reached the semifinals of the Bellator MMA Season 3 women’s 115-pound draw, where she was joined by Zoila Frausto Gurgel, Megumi Fujii and Lisa Ward. Gurgel defeated Aguilar by split decision at Bellator 31 and went on to win the tournament.
FACT 4: Though Alida Gray has yet to taste defeat, her four previous opponents have combined for an 11-12 record.
FACT 5: Luis Palomino has competed in 12 organizations during his 30-fight career: Championship Fighting Alliance, Warrior-1 MMA, Bellator, G-Force Fights, Xtreme Fighting Championships, Unconquered Martial Arts, United States Fight League, Premier X-treme Fighting, Rage in Cage, Panther Fight League, World Extreme Fighting and Absolute Fighting Championships.
FACT 6: A former two-division Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Jorge Patino has more wins (35), losses (14) and draws (2) than any other fighter on the WSOF 8 roster.
FACT 7: Alexis Vila defeated Russian Vugar Orujov for the bronze medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Orujov now serves as an assistant wrestling coach at Nassau Community College, the school at which reigning UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman once wrestled.
FACT 8: Freddy Assuncao is the younger brother of UFC veterans Raphael Assuncao and Junior Assuncao.
FACT 9: Tyler Stinson has scored 18 first-round finishes, seven of them in less than a minute.
FACT 10: “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 castaway Cody Bollinger made his professional mixed martial arts debut two months after his 15th birthday, when he competed at a Titans of the Pentagon event on May 13, 2006 in Costa Rica.