World Series of Fighting 11: Gaethje vs Newell Main Card Preview

Gaethje-PatishnockThis Saturday (July 5, 2014), mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will have another extended day of MMA viewing, but it won’t be because of multiple UFC events –- thankfully, they saved the second event for Sunday this weekend –- rather, the World Series of Fighting will be putting on a matinee event to avoid direct competition with the happenings in the Octagon, and they have the privilege of hitting the network airwaves for the first time ever, as this card will be aired on NBC. It’s a good thing the company decided to air their event earlier in the day, as it will mean that more eyes should find their way to the main event between Justin Gaethje (11-0) and Nick Newell (11-0), which is extremely intriguing, if not necessarily the most competitive bout of the weekend. Newell is an amazing story, becoming a champion on the regional circuit and earning his way to a title shot in the WSOF despite being born a congenital amputee. As great as his story is however, I can very likely see his run coming to an end here because Justin Gaethje is simply on another level compared to the fighters Newell has faced thus far in his career. With both fighters still under 30, it will be interesting to see what WSOF’s long-term plans are for each. Will they keep them around in an attempt to build their brand, or will they let them jump ship should the UFC come calling? Either way, this fight is one of the must-watch MMA moments of the weekend. Aside from the main event, it seems like WSOF and NBC just decided they were going whatever names fans might deem as recognizable on the card. The best example of that strategy is the Jon Fitch (25-6-1, 1 NC) versus Dennis Hallman (53-14-2, 1 NC) bout. Fitch isn’t known to exactly electrify audiences, so putting him on network TV could end up being a bit of a mistake –- even if he does bring in a couple extra viewers because of his name recognition. Some fans may remember Hallman from his multiple stints in the UFC (and some coaching brouhaha on TUF) as well, although he never had a huge following. This fight comes down to Fitch’s wrestling game needing to neutralize Hallman’s submission abilities, and given his experience doing exactly that, not to mention his size advantage here, things look good for Fitch. For viewers? Not so much. Following one of his most lackluster performances ever, Melvin Guillard (31-13-2, 2 NC) was cut from the UFC and he found his way on to this card as well to take on Gesias Cavalcante (18-7-1, 2 NC). Back in 2007 and 2008, Cavalcante was considered one of the best lightweights in the world, and at just 31 the question with him is always if he can hold up physically, rather than from a technical perspective. He looked good in his last outing against Tyson Griffin, but keep in mind that was a 2013 version of Tyson Griffin. Guillard showed wild inconsistencies during his 23-fight, nearly decade-long stint in the UFC as well, but his seem to be more the result of mental and technical lapses, as the physical tools are quite obviously present in this explosive and athletic fighter. In a battle of 31-year-old fighters who have seemingly been around forever, just about anything can happen in this bout due to Melvin’s mercurial offense and vastly flawed defense. Kicking off the NBC card is a bantamweight battle between another fighter who gained most of his recognition (albeit not in a good way) from the UFC, and one whose only notoriety came from beating a UFC veteran. It’s hard to remember that Cody Bollinger (15-2) is still only 23, as he has been fighting professionally since 2006 with his stint on TUF and a short run in Bellator included in there. Pablo Alfonso (9-5) has been plying his trade primarily on the Floridian regional scene since 2000, with appearances on AXS TV promotions like CFA and XFC, with a bout under the Strikeforce banner as well. Alfonso’s biggest moment came when he defeated former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres at WSOF 6 last October. Whichever fighter emerges victorious here could be next in line for WSOF’s other big homegrown talent, bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes. All of the action for WSOF 11 can be seen on NBC this Saturday beginning at 4pm ET. The odds for the event were released yesterday at Several Bookmakers, and will have more coverage leading up the event.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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