Reigning World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes barley broke a sweat Saturday night in the main event of WSOF 28 against Joseph Barajas. The NBCSN-televised battle, which was held at Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, California, lasted only 73 seconds as Barajas was never able to get things going before injuring his right knee.
Moraes was patient and measured, per the norm, and waited for an opportunity to strike. Barajas seemed a little hesitant to engage and when he did, disaster struck. The champ unloaded a nasty inside leg kick but rather than checking it, the Team Xplode fighter tried jumping out of the way of it. The kick landed high on the knee and when Barajas’s right leg came back down, he crumbled in a heap, clutching onto his knee. Referee John McCarthy had no choice but to stop the fight, allowing the Ricardo Almeida Jiu Jitsu rep to not only retain his WSOF title but also win his 10th consecutive battle.
After the fight, Moraes said he wouldn’t mind moving up to both featherweight and lightweight to challenge the current champs and top contenders in each weight class. Justin Gaethje was among the most prominent names but Moraes stated that he feels he can hang with even the best at 155 pounds, some two weight classes heavier than the division in which he currently competes.
The co-main event was a fairly exciting battle, though it was marred in some controversy at its conclusion. Bantamweights Timur Valiev and Chris Gutierrez fought hard for three rounds, but it seemed like the Dagestani was the better man. Valiev appeared to have landed the harder punches and definitely tore into his opponent’s legs with stinging kicks, but it wasn’t enough for him to win the bout.
Gutierrez was taken down in the second and had to withstand an onslaught of punches from the guard, but he was never in any real danger of being taken out. “El Guapo” played a defensive game throughout the contest as “Lucky” was the aggressor, trying to make the duel a reckless brawl. Gutierrez was forced into the cage a few times in the final round when Valiev charged at him with volleys of punches, but then he dropped the hard-charging Jackson-Winklejohn representative with a perfect counter right hook with 10 seconds left. The fierce blow won him the stanza and, according to the judges, the fight.
One of the cageside judges favored Valiev 30-27 but that score was offset by the other two, who had it for Gutierrez 29-28. The win snapped Valiev’s 10-fight winning streak and with the conquest, “El Guapo” knocked off the WSOF’s number-two contender at 135 pounds.
The Ultimate fighter Season 11 veteran Jamie Yager made quick work of Daniel McWilliams in their welterweight clash, submitting him in just 38 seconds. “The Chosyn 1” wrapped up McWilliams along the cage and dragged him down with a crucifix and immediately locked on a textbook scarf hold. From there, Yager trapped the Team Garage fighter’s arm, figure foured his legs and forced the tap from the old school scarf hold arm lock, ending a two-fight losing streak.
Welterweight contender Ozzie Alvarez headed into his WSOF fight coming off a disappointing loss is September. He was determined to get back on track against 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu fighter Andrew Ramm and he did just enough in each round to earn himself a unanimous decision win. Alvarez scored a takedown early in the first and controlled the pace throughout, out-striking his foe during the sporadic exchanges in which they engaged. In the end, “The Outlaw” was busier and more effective overall and was awarded the verdict via tallies of 30-27 (twice) and 29-28.
In the untelevised undercard, flyweight Steve Ramirez knocked out Kyle Estrada in just 61 seconds from a series of punches; Isaias Alvarado took out Garrick Evans at 3:21 of the opening frame with a volley of punches in their 190-pound catchweight battle; Heinrich Wassmer submitted flyweight opponent Keenan Lewis with a slick rear-naked choke at 3:02 of the third; Jalin Turner flattened Eric Steans with a single left cross in just 38 seconds; and Fard Muhammad toppled Mike Kubeska via majority decision with tallies of 29-27, 28-27, 28-28.