Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino had a spirited battle in March. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The first meeting between Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino was one of 2015’s most entertaining scraps. Now they’re going to get a chance to try and surpass the lofty standards they set in March.
A lightweight championship rematch between Gaethje and Palomino will serve as the main event for World Series of Fighting 23, which takes place at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix on Sept. 18. In the evening’s co-headliner, David Branch will face Teddy Holder for the promotion’s inaugural light heavyweight crown.
Gaethje, 26, is unbeaten in 14 professional fights, including his memorable encounter with Palomino at WSOF 19. After some furious back-and-forth action in the first two frames, the reigning 155-pound king was able to dispatch Palomino with leg kicks and follow-up ground-and-pound 3:57 into round three. Gaethje also owns notable triumphs over Melvin Guillard, Nick Newell and Gesias Cavalcante during his promotional tenure.
A 33-fight veteran, Palomino earned knockout victories against Jorge Patino and Lewis Gonzalez in his first two WSOF appearances before squaring off with Gaethje. The MMA Masters product is 23-10 as a professional and has also competed for the Bellator MMA and Championship Fighting Alliance organizations.
Branch, the reigning WSOF middleweight king, was victorious in the opening round of the 205-pound tournament, as he submitted Jesse McElligot in the second round at WSOF 20. The Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt is 6-0 since joining the Las Vegas-based promotion.
The relatively unknown Holder entered the light heavyweight bracket on short notice and knocked out FC veteran Thiago Silva two minutes into the first round of their encounter at WSOF 19. The Bartlett, Tenn., native has finished all nine of his career triumphs inside the distance.