Despite a short delay, a stream that became a little unreliable and some rough edges regarding things like commentary, WSOF 2 was probably one of my favourite cards of the year so far.
The prelims largely featured guys I’ve never heard of with nine of the fourteen names being new to me, but it didn’t matter. The fights DELIVERED.
Bill Algeo and Frank Buenafuente served up a fun scramble fest in the opener, made a little confusing by them both being unfamiliar names and wearing near identical shorts. Algeo scored the submission win with a nicely applied RNC.
Breson Hansen scored one of the knockouts of the year with a beautifully measured flying knee to Tom Marcelino.
Ozzy Dugulubgov and Chris Wade engaged in a compelling striker vs. grappler bout where the striker showed he had some fine grappling in addition to some brutal kicks and a heavy left hand en route to taking a deserved victory. We were impressed by Ozzy in his post fight interview as well and we’ll be keeping a close eye on his progress. Filed under possible future star.
The bout between Igor Gracie and Richard Patishnock was stopped at the end of the first round due to Gracie suffering a shoulder injury, doubtless caused by one of a few lovely slams from Patishnock. We hate to see a fight end on the stool, but from where I’m sitting its effectively a legit TKO from the slam.
Waylon Lowe extended his run of (T)KO wins to four since his UFC release with a first round stoppage of TUF alum Cameron Dollar and Rick Glen came from behind, taking advantage of a slip to knock the impressive and previously undefeated Alexandre Pimentel out in the third round having definitely lost the first two frames.
The prelims were rounded out by a back and forth scrap between Danillo Villefort and kris McCray which ended in a (deserved) split decision win for Villefort.
That was just the prelims. 5 finishes, two decisions, every match being competitive and fun. Bravo.
Onto the main card and unbeaten Justin Gaethje maintained his record against one time top ten Lightweight JZ Cavalcante with a mildly contentious doctor stoppage for a cut only two minutes into the fight. On balance it may be a little harsh on JZ but ill rarely argue with veering on the side of fighter safety.
My one predicted grindfest for the evening actually produced a memorable finish in the first round as Josh Burkman extends his post UFC record to 7-1 (with the loss coming to current darling Jordan Mein) at the expense of Aaron Simpson who just looks too washed out down at Welterweight.
Much of the pre-fight talk for Dave Branch vs. Paulo Filho was based around the hope that Filho could regain his WEC form and get his life back on track following some challenging personal times.
That didn’t happen. In fact, it seemed like Filho was barely aware he was in the cage at some points, to the point that the fight could easily have been stopped in the first round, our own Ross Stevenson scored it as a 30-25 to Branch.
However, the lingering feeling is not that Branch impressed but that Filho should never have taken the booking, Branch looks ineffectual for failing to finish a fighter who was disinterested at best and the bout should maybe have been stopped in the name of good taste or concern for Filho’s mental state.
A sad business, all said and done.
Our co-main event could be said to be for the linear Bellator Bantamweight championship, with Tyson Nam coming off a win over incumbent Eduardo Dantas in Shooto.
That’s not how it works of course, but with Moraes coming off a win over Miguel Torres, this is very much a case of two arguably top fifteen 135lbers facing off with a win surely placing the winner in the top ten.
In the end it was Moraes who showed his class, being happy to trade with Nam on the feet despite being reckoned to have the grappling advantage and scoring a beautiful head kick which he followed up on to score the KO.
Our main event seemed to be a question of Andrei Arlovski’s chin versus the fact that Anthony Johnson had never fought someone bigger than him and had a suspect gas tank.
We were denied the much anticipated knockout, but only by the bell at the end of the first round as Johnson swarmed a rocked Arlovski, microseconds from a TKO win.
Rumble’s gas tank started to sputter in the second and he kept attempting to take the fight down, but couldn’t tend to secure the takedown against the larger Arlovski. Even so, Johnson was easily the more incisive striker, landing more numerous, varied and heavy strikes and repeatedly rocking the former UFC Heavyweight champion.
Like I said, that was fun. You almost feel like WSOF shouldn’t bother with things like titles, just try and put the most interesting card they can on every other month. I’d watch. I’d pay to go see if they swung by my town.
Going forward, we expect Josh Burkman to face Jon Fitch on their next card in June, with Tyrone Spong returning from his KO win over Remy Bojansky at GLORY 5, I’d quite like to see him vs. Anthony Johnson at 205lbs.
That’s already interesting enough for me to stay up into the wee small hours to watch.
One last thought. WSOF provided a largely stable online feed for international fans who couldn’t watch the main North American broadcast on NBC. They produced some very compelling teaser videos, very much in the vein of the UFC’s countdown shows and all that combined with some interesting matchmaking to make this show seem… important. Significant. Fun.
There’s a lesson in that for other similar promotions out there. Sure, your home market TV deal is important but in this day and age, in order to seem meaningful, folks halfway round the world need to see your show live, or you run this risk of coming across as ‘just’ a regional promotion, and an unambitious bush league one at that.
To all at WSOF. You entertained us well tonight. More please. Thank you.
• Anthony Johnson def. Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Marlon Moraes def. Tyson Nam via KO (head kick, strikes) – Round 1, 2:55
• Dave Branch vs. Paulo Filho via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
• Josh Burkman def. Aaron Simpson via KO (knee) – Round 1, 3:04
Justin Gaethje def. Gesias Cavalcante via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1, 2:27 PRELIMINARY CARD
• Danillo Villefort def. Kris McCray via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
• Rick Glenn def. Alexandre Pimentel via KO (strikes) – Round 3, 1:51
• Waylon Lowe def. Cameron Dollar via KO (punch) – Round 1, 2:58
• Richard Patishnock def. Igor Gracie via TKO (injury) – Round 1, 5:00
• Ozzy Dugulubgov def. Chris Wade via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Brenson Hansen def. Tom Marcellino via TKO (flying knee) – Round 2, 3:24
• Bill Algeo def. Frank Buenafuente via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:36