Saturday, November 3, 2012

World Series of Fighting Preview

I don't think I've been as hyped for a debut card in MMA since Affliction MMA began its two-card (three if you count the canceled one).

There are quite a few differences between the World Series of Fighting's debut card compared to Affliction. though.

First of all, WSOF is not only welcome in Las Vegas, they are also owned (partially) by the Planet Hollywood Hotel-Casino. While Affliction stayed in California to avoid the laser of UFC, WSOF is going to live right in Zuffa's yard.

The other big difference, however, is that Affliction had a stacked card with compelling match-ups. WSOF has big names fighting no names and I expect no fewer than three squash matches on the main card.

Ultimately, I think the biggest change from the two companies is that WSOF is trying to set a realistic expectation. Affliction tried to be the flagship program of non-Zuffa MMA and a legitimate titan with which UFC could clash. Heck, WAMMA started its infamous run as a sanctioning body with Affliction (and died with it).

WSOF (I keep typing WSOP, like it's the World Series of Poker) understands that being competition is probably unwise, especially in the beginning, and looks to simply be a premiere non-Zuffa organization initially. They may want to butt heads with Bellator, but not the big guns just yet.

And the NBC Sports contract already grants the company credibility. They will be on an established MMA network (UFC and WEC spent time on it) as will Bellator, who moves to Spike TV in two months.

I look forward to seeing how this battle shakes out. Will Bellator and WSOF work together to get some strong crossover cards? Will WSOF be a non-Zuffa "Clash of the Champions" kind of company? Or will the two cannibalize each other until only one remains?

For the time being, though, let's focus on the excitement that is this card and make picks:

Main Event: Heavyweights - Andrei Arlovski v. Devin Cole

Probably the most competitive fight on the card (with name value), Arlovski is a veteran and former World Champion while Cole is an IFC veteran who won his last two fights in Strikeforce before they cut the division.

I completely forget that Arlovski is only 33 because of his lengthy background, but he definitely is on a downswing. That said, I can't say his skills have dropped off that much. I say Arlovski wins by decision in a pretty fun bout.

Co-main: Light Heavyweights: Anthony Johnson v. DJ Linderman - Johnson looks better since moving up to his more natural weight, and Linderman is an untested man whose claim to fame is winning one tournament bout in Bellator. No supreme question here: Johnson wins by KO1.

Rest of the Main Card

Bantamweights: Miguel Torres v. Marlon Moraes - Still near the top of the class, Torres owns here by KO2.

Welterweights: Gregor Gracie v. Tyson Steele - This is just a chance to show off the Gracie skills. Gracie wins by submission in Round 1.

Light Heavyweights: Tyrone Spong v. Travis Bartlett -  This should be an interesting one, as a K-1/Muay Thai fighter debuts in MMA. I think he rises to the occasion, and Spong picks up a decision win.

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