Two weeks ago, WSOF kicked off their light heavyweight tournament with a whirlwind of activity on the day of the event. Matt Hamill dropped out of his semifinal bout with Thiago Silva due to illness, allowing reserve Teddy Holder to step into his place. Holder went on to knock Silva out in the first round, punching his ticket to the tournament final. This time around, the activity came on weigh-in day rather than fight day. Holder will take on the winner of the newly reshuffled WSOF 20 main event, which pits the organization’s middleweight champion, Dave Branch, against late replacement Jesse McElligott. After being (prematurely) cut following a 2-2 run in the UFC, Branch has been on a tremendous run. He has won his last 5 bouts and picked up victories in 7 of his past 8, with the only loss coming to current UFC #1 contender Anthony Johnson. Branch was supposed to face former UFC middleweight Ronny Markes, but the Brazilian dropped out of the fight on the day of weigh-ins, and McElligott stepped up on short notice. McElligott is 5-1 in his MMA career, with his only loss coming to former UFC fighter Josh Hendricks. Some late shuffling took place on this card as well, with Melvin Guillard pulling out of his co-main event fight with Ozzy Dugulubgov. Dugulubgov will now face Lucas Montoya earlier on the main card, while the co-main event features the return of Nick Newell, taking on Joe Condon. Rounding out the main card are Ben Fodor vs. Manny Walo, and 2x NCAA national champion Steve Mocco vs. Juliano Coutinho. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released the betting lines for the five main card bouts on WSOF 20 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (NBC Sports Network, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: I wrote up the Ronny Markes fight, saying how Dave Branch had advantages everywhere and was going to win pretty easily, and now Branch is fighting an inferior fighter to Markes. I’ll leave it at that. This is a perfect spot for WSOF. Condon is coming off a win over Johnny Nunez where he was dominated for the majority of the fight, but because he pulled out that win, they’re able to throw him in against Nick Newell to give Newell a favorable opponent to rebound against. Nunez could have very well beaten Newell, but I really don’t see Condon having much success, just due to how the styles match up. Newell should be the better wrestler and will have the more dynamic submission game, while Condon can’t offer much opposition on the feet. Dugulubgov likely would have beaten the current incarnation of Melvin Guillard if that fight were to actually happen, and now against a lesser opponent he should be able to wrestle his way to victory as an absolute worst case scenario. Unfortunately, the line on this fight is starting high, and only going to get worse, so I have no interest in betting it. Ben Fodor has some hype behind him because of whatever this “Phoenix Jones” stuff is (I really have no idea), but on tape I just see a guy with wild striking who loves to go for guillotines, and doesn’t offer much in the wrestling department. Emmanuel Walo is a solid wrestler, and while his striking is still very raw he tends to use straight punches. He’s also significantly bigger than Fodor. After being knocked out in 11 seconds in his last fight his chin is a bit of a concern, but Fodor’s only real power seems to come from his left hook, so Walo should be able to avoid that, and if he does I think he wins a decision. Fodor’s best attribute may be his conditioning, but in a three-round fight, I don’t think that will come into play. Steve Mocco is one of those wrestlers who was tremendous in the amateur ranks, but just doesn’t seem to be able to translate his style to MMA — despite having decent success early in his career. He will still have a significant wrestling edge over Coutinho, and I expect him to find a submission at some point in this fight, but with his credentials people are always going to be looking at the big picture, and I don’t think it’s overly bright for the 33-year-old Mocco.