Roughly one year after Sherdog.com first brought word that a new mixed martial arts promotion was coming to the Las Vegas Strip, the World Series of Fighting will hold its inaugural event on Saturday at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
The show will be headlined by a heavyweight showdown between former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and ex-International Fight League talent Devin Cole. The NBC Sports-broadcast main draw will also see former Octagon combatant Anthony Johnson do battle with Bellator Fighting Championships veteran D.J. Linderman, while onetime WEC pacesetter Miguel Torres locks horns with Marlon Moraes.
That is not why we are here, however. We, the dregs of MMA society, have come together to discuss what unearthed jewels may lie buried within the preliminary draw, which streams live on Sherdog.com. Here are five reasons to peep the World Series of Fighting undercard:
99 Problems for ‘JZ’
Five years ago, Gesias Cavalcante was considered by many to be a Top 5 lightweight, but as of late, the Brazilian has been nowhere near the Top 10.
After beginning his career 14-1-1, “JZ” has gone 2-5 with two no-contests in his last nine fights, most recently losing to Isaac Vallie-Flagg and Luis Palomino. Still, through all of Cavalcante’s injuries, some have still held out hope that he would return to his previous form and string together some wins stateside, despite there being little evidence that a career turnaround would come anytime soon.
Things will not get any easier for the Brazilian when he squares off against T.J. O'Brien. The lanky submission specialist has won back-to-back fights since departing the UFC on the heels of stoppage losses to Cole Miller and Paul Kelly.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that Cavalcante will have fits with O’Brien’s length, both standing and on the ground. However, there is always a chance that the old “JZ” will wade in with a ferocious overhand, dump the American on his back and start dropping those startlingly violent Donkey Kong punches he used to love so much. The question: somewhere down deep, does that Cavalcante still exist?
I think Gerald Harris could do some good work at welterweight.
Now nearly two years removed from his UFC exodus as a middleweight, “Hurricane” made his debut at 170 pounds on just one week’s notice against Mike Bronzoulis at Legacy Fighting Championship 11 back in May, clearly besting the Texan but nonetheless walking away with a curious split decision from the cageside judges.
Despite the short-notice nature of his appearance, Harris looked comfortable in his first trip to 170 pounds -- a trend that his fans no doubt hope continues as he becomes more accustomed to cutting the additional poundage. The 32-year-old put a variety of skills on display in his bout with Bronzoulis, and I especially enjoyed Harris’ commitment to throwing his jab-cross-uppercut combination before using his knees to either transition into a double-leg or do damage from the Thai plum.
More troubling was Harris’ difficulty in hoisting Bronzoulis high into the air for one of his patented slams, as well as Harris’ inability to capitalize when he did manage to put “The Greek” on his back. Harris will undoubtedly need to take advantage of that type of top position in his fight with Josh Burkman, who should prove to be quite a stiff test for Harris in his sophomore welterweight effort.
As for Burkman, I look at him as fighter with little to lose, and that makes him a dangerous commodity.
One year ago, the veteran was forced to withdraw from a scheduled appearance at Amazon Forest Combat in Brazil after tearing his patellar tendon and bursting a bursa sac in his knee during training. Through rest and rehabilitation, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 veteran managed to avoid surgery and returned to action this spring, outpointing Koffi Adzitso before submitting fellow “Ultimate Fighter” veteran Jamie Yager with a guillotine choke on Aug. 25.
Many may have forgotten that most of Burkman’s losses have come to solid competition, and he has never before been knocked out. Add to this Burkman’s recent admission that he has rededicated himself to training hard full-time, and I think “The People’s Warrior” could surprise some people.
I doubt the World Series of Fighting is going to hand out a “Fight of the Night” bonus, but if it did, I would bet on Ronys Torres and Brian Cobb to bring home those extra bucks. Honestly, as soon as I saw this card, this was the fight that initially caught my eye as a potential fan favorite. Nobody seems to be talking about this one, but do not be surprised if it steals the show.
In Torres, fans find a 26-year-old with 29 professional fights to his credit. Since stumbling twice during an ill-fated stint with the UFC, the Brazilian has gone 11-1, finishing eight of his opponents in that span.
Meanwhile, Cobb has won four of his last six but nevertheless enters the cage coming off a Jan. 27 defeat to Antonio McKee. Known for his grappling ability, the veteran should find himself more closely matched with Torres on the mat. It is in the standup department that Cobb faces more significant danger, as Torres has been known to wing punches with reckless abandon.
The bottom line: these men own 35 career finishes between them. Unless you have a hot date, you would be a fool to miss this one.
High On Lowe
I think Waylon Lowe deserves another look.
The man was bounced from the UFC after just a single loss, after all. Even worse, that loss happened to be arguably the most action-packed bout Lowe was involved in during his time in the Octagon, and he was getting the better of Nik Lentz before the Minnesotan sunk a deep guillotine to end their UFC Fight Night 24 confrontation in round three.
I attended the show in person, and I can honestly tell you that people were going pretty nuts during that bout. Stocky and powerful, Lowe can be quite the exciting fighter when he avoids camping in his opponent’s guard for extended periods while making little effort to pass. Since his departure as a UFC lightweight, Lowe has slimmed down to 145 pounds and picked up three straight wins by way of knockout, most recently earning a second-round TKO over Mike Diggs on May 12.
However, the American Top Team rep has been given no easy opponent for his WSOF debut. Not only has Fabio Mello been in this game for more than a decade, but he has also faced some of the sport’s biggest names, including Takanori Gomi, Masakazu Imanari and Jose Aldo. Also, it would be a mistake to allow the 37-year-old’s submission game to fool you into thinking he is one-dimensional, because this dude throws blows like his opponents stole something from him.