If more World Series of Fighting cards looked like WSOF 33, the promotion would be in a much better spot. Obviously Justin Gaethje is one of their top fighters so it helps to have him in the main event, but even without him this is worth watching. The mix of veterans and prospects is healthy without matchmakers jumping the gun and throwing the young guys in too deep, too soon. In the main event, Gaethje will make the fifth defense of his WSOF title, and look to move to 17-0 against Ozzy Dugulubgov. Ozzy is one of the few fighters on the WSOF roster who can match Gaethje’s physical ability. While he might be a bit behind from a technical perspective, the way Gaethje often approaches his fights means that may not matter as this should be a bit of a brawl. Dugulubgov is coming in on the heels of a three-fight winning streak, while Gaethje was one of the most exciting fighters of 2015, putting on two fantastic battles with Luis Palomino. The co-main event will see David Branch try to remain a two-division WSOF champion, as his 205lb belt is up for grabs against Vinny Magalhaes. Once labeled as a boring fighter, Branch has been anything but since getting a shot at the WSOF middleweight title back in 2014. Since then he has won four of five fights by stoppage, and extended his current winning streak to eight. Magalhaes has continued to prove himself one of the best submission grapplers in MMA, winning three of four fights by sub since getting cut from the UFC in 2013. Those victories have earned him a shot at capturing his second title belt since leaving the UFC (he won the Titan FC light heavyweight title in 2014). Other worthwhile bouts on the WSOF 33 main card include lightweights Jason High and Joao Zeferino, Brian Foster and Luis Firmino (which could just turn into a fantastic grappling match), and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s brother Abubakar taking on John Howard at welterweight. Kicking off the NBC Sports portion of the card will be heavyweights Shawn Jordan and Ashley Gooch (no relation to UFC flyweight Kyoji). Even the prelims on WSOF 33 are worth tuning into, especially for fans of emerging Russian/Dagestani talent. Timur Valiev, Bekbulat Magomedov, and Islam Mamedov. Valiev and Magomedov are both looking to recover from close split decision losses in their last bouts (Valiev will actually be rematching Chris Gutierrez in his bout), while Mamedov was successful in the opening round of the lightweight tournament last year, but unable to continue due to a torn ACL. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the main card of WSOF 33 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook, and you can check those lines out below: ——————– WSOF 33: Gaethje vs. Dugulubgov OCTOBER 7, 2016 Kansas City Municipal Auditorium | Kansas City, Missouri MAIN CARD (NBCSN, 11pm ET) Lightweight Title: Ozzy Dugulubgov +205 Justin Gaethje -285 Over 2.5 -170 Under 2.5 +130 – Light Heavyweight Title: Vinny Magalhaes +150 David Branch -190 Over 2.5 -110 Under 2.5 -130 – Joao Zeferino +145 Jason High -185 Over 2.5 -190 Under 2.5 +150 – Brian Foster +125 Luiz Firmino -165 Over 1.5 -175 Under 1.5 +135 – John Howard +265 Abubakar Nurmagomedov -385 Over 2.5 -190 Under 2.5 +150 – Ashley Gooch +175 Shawn Jordan -245 Over 1.5 +140 Under 1.5 -180 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Justin Gaethje has proven so durable, and his offense is so good at breaking opponents down over the course of five rounds (well, two or three rounds, to be honest) that it’s hard to see him losing to anyone in the current crop of lightweights at WSOF. Ozzy’s best chance here is to turn this into a wrestling match, but even then I think Gaethje has a slight edge, and will still find ways to beat Ozzy up. Perhaps Jason High with 25 minutes of wrestling cardio is the biggest test for Gaethje right now, because I don’t see anyone able to last with him on the feet, and few capable of forcing any different style of fight upon him. Dave Branch’s striking has improved markedly over the past couple of years, and that’s going to be the difference here. There’s no doubt that Vinny can outgrapple him, which is normally the advantage Branch has had since he’s moved up to 205, but Branch is the more durable fighter and more dangerous on the feet here, which is in stark contrast to his other light heavyweight bouts. Branch will probably play it a bit safe early, in order to avoid scrambling against a fresh Magalhaes, but will engage more as the fight goes. Given Vinny’s chin, I think the new patron saint of MMA violence gets his fifth finish in six fights to retain the 205lb belt. Jason High has looked good at lightweight so far, we just haven’t seen enough of him. In his first fight at 155, he took a round off the future UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos before tiring, and since then he’s shown more power than before while improving his cardio and maintaining his wrestling. The wrestling will be key here, as Zeferino is the more dangerous fighter wherever this takes place. On the feet, High has been knocked out three times in his career, and Zeferino can deliver with his arms or legs. On the ground Zeferino is one of the more dangerous leg lockers in MMA. If High can neutralize those attacks early with his wrestling, he can probably open up some spots to let his hands go later in the fight. I’m not nearly as confident as some people seem to be in High though, so if this line creeps up, a shot on the Brazilian could be in store. Have we figured out why Buscape didn’t get a shot in the UFC after TUF 21 yet? Was it because there was already another Buscape in the promotion? Either way, he’s been on one of the best runs in his career over the past few years, actually sporting an undefeated record in WSOF. I think his more patient approach to grappling (while depriving us of more gems like his bout vs. Luiz Azeredo from PRIDE Bushido 6) has helped him tremendously, and it could do the same against Brian Foster. Foster is so intent on being violent in the cage that he gets reckless, and I think Buscape can turn some of those moments into opportunities to get takedowns, improve position, and perhaps even find a submission. Of course, Foster could melt him with something spectacular as well, but that’s the risk you run when fighting Brian Foster. I wish John Howard was a bit more reliable as a fighter, because I know I’m going to get a big price on him, and I know at his best he’s capable of beating Abubakar Nurmagomedov. However, I don’t think we’re going to see that, and Nurmagomedov’s style has something to do with that. He’ll probably force Howard to defend takedowns constantly, and while Howard will probably do a pretty good job of defending them, he’ll be on the defensive and up against the cage far too much to get enough offense going to win. Ashley Gooch started his MMA career just 2-4, but that was when he was just 35-38 years old, which is just a baby by heavyweight standards. Now that he’s 41, he’s really come into his own with eight straight wins — all by stoppage. Shawn Jordan is athletic enough to land spinning wheel kicks on other heavyweights, but also chinny enough to get lit up in the first round. This should be some good heavyweight fun, and I’m torn between my two usual methods of picking a heavyweight winner. One is to go with the more athletic guy (Jordan) while the other is to go with the more durable (Gooch). Jordan will probably end up being far too heavily favored, and Gooch has a better name, so let’s go that direction.