Georgi Karakhanyan is 18-2 over his last 20 appearances. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
Get ready, Canada: the World Series of Fighting is about to invade your maple syrup fountains and moose meat factories.
WSOF 7 “Karakhanyan vs. Palmer” -- the prelims for which will stream live to Sherdog.com -- will serve as the Las Vegas-based organization’s first trip north of the United States border and takes place Saturday at the PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia. The main draw, which airs live on NBC Sports Network, was initially expected to be topped by a light heavyweight showdown pitting Mike Kyle against Anthony Johnson. That booking was scrapped due to injury, however, and the event will now see the inaugural WSOF featherweight champion crowned to close the show.
Here is what to watch for at World Series of Fighting 7:
Georgi Karakhanyan has been on fire since receiving his Bellator MMA release in 2011, going undefeated in his last eight fights and capturing the Tachi Palace Fights featherweight crown in the process.
The 28-year-old has lived up to his “Insane” nickname more often than not, even in defeat, going the distance just eight times in 26 pro outings and earning 16 of his 22 wins by either knockout or submission.
More than two years after running into Joe Warren and Patricio Freire in Bellator’s Season 2 and Season 4 tournaments, Karakhanyan now finds himself staring at second chance to win major championship gold. The Russian-born featherweight is hitting the age we typically view as an athlete’s prime, when youthful ability combines with experience to make the competitor the best he or she will ever be.
Will this mark the beginning of a dominant run for Karakhanyan on his new stage?
Standing in the Bellator veteran’s way will be Lance Palmer, an undefeated prospect who earned a hard-fought split decision victory over Jared Downing to become the Resurrection Fighting Alliance featherweight king in June. Palmer will step in for Rick Glenn, who withdrew from his showdown with Karakhanyan due to personal reasons, according to the promotion’s official release.
As a result, Palmer finds himself in an advantageous situation. Given Karakhanyan’s pedigree and Palmer’s comparative lack of experience, this could easily turn into one of those situations where the young gun forgets that he is supposed to lose and puts on the fight of his life.
Palmer, 25, will likely hit the cage looking for a takedown in order to stifle Karakhanyan’s explosive standup. The question: can the four-time NCAA All-American wrestler make the most of this massive opportunity and keep Karakhanyan on his back?
Return of ‘The King’
Elvis Mutapcic is a middleweight on the rise, despite the disconcerting circumstances surrounding the postponement of his tournament semifinal with Jesse Taylor.
Mutapcic was originally slated to meet the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran at WSOF 5, but the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board canceled the fight after an official allegedly observed Mutapcic ingesting medication backstage -- a claim the former Maximum Fighting Championship titlist staunchly denied. Mutapcic’s WSOF debut may have been delayed, but I think “The King” will be worth the wait. The Iowan has finished 11 of his 13 career victims and has never been stopped in 15 pro outings.
In Taylor, Mutapcic will face a rejuvenated 31-year-old who has put together a six-fight winning streak, hoisting the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship middleweight title along the way. Like Mutapcic, Taylor has also finished the majority of his opponents, scoring 14 submission wins during his career.
The winner of this main card showdown will later face Dave Branch for the inaugural WSOF middleweight belt, so you would be wise to take note.
Everybody wants to talk about Nick Newell being a congenital amputee, but I think it is about time we starting leading the conversation with his record.
He has been perfect through 10 pro bouts, earning seven of those wins by submission and another pair by knockout. Eight months after capturing the Xtreme Fighting Championships lightweight title, Newell signed with the WSOF and made his promotional debut against Keon Caldwell, forcing “The Black Assassin” to tap out to a guillotine choke just 2:07 into their contest.
Newell must now contend with Sabah Fadai, a six-year pro who has stopped all seven of his conquered foes inside the distance. Fadai has gone 15 minutes just once in 10 career bouts but has not competed in 13 months. He was last seen in October 2012, when he submitted Cody Krahn with a triangle choke in just 84 seconds at MFC 35.
Fadai figures to be one of Newell’s toughest tests to date. Can the American keep his perfect record intact?