Growing pains evident, but action fixes all

March 24, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Nitesh Dutt

It was a night many anticipated since last November. World Series of Fighting held its second event in Atlantic City. The preliminary fights, which were only aired online, included five finishes and just two fights that went to the judges. But, it was the main card on NBC Sports Network that drew the most attention.

Justin Gaethje and Gesias Cavalcante were given the duty of opening the five-fight card on NBCSN. The two lightweights did not disappoint as they traded punches for the entirety of their fight. However, the fight lasted less than two and a half minutes. At the 2:27 mark of the opening round, doctor’s stopped the fight due to a deep cut above Cavalcante’s left eye. The Brazilian was visibly upset as his opponent celebrated his TKO victory.

Next up was a battle of two MMA veterans. Welterweights Aaron Simpson and Josh Burkman took to the decagon, which would be a ten-sided cage, with the chance to face Jon Fitch in June at stake.

These fighters combined for 50 professional fights, so neither had the nerves most fighters would have. Both came out ready and looking for a fight. They exchanged punches, but it was Burkman that showed incredible power. He had impeccable timing and patience as he landed solid shots to Simpson. About three minutes into the opening round, Burkman landed a solid right hook to Simpson that rocked him. Burkman followed with a barrage and finished with a solid right knee that knocked his opponent out.

During his post fight interview, which was done by Bas Rutten, Burkman voiced his opinion about facing Fitch. Burkman said he wanted a title shot and that Fitch should fight someone else then fight Burkman for the title. There’s just one problem that WSOF will likely fix, there currently aren’t any titles in the promotion.

An anticipated match between former WEC Champion Paulo Filho and David Branch was up next. The biggest question heading into this fight was, which Filho would show up? When he is focused and determined, Filho can be one of the more dangerous fighters to step inside the cage.

It was evident within the first few minutes of the first round that that wasn’t the Filho we would be seeing on this night. The fight went the full three rounds, but each round looked very similar. Branch landed strikes and kicks at will and took down Filho every chance he got. There was no offense or defense from Filho who had a troubling week leading up to the bout, but don’t take that away from Branch who thoroughly dominated the Brazilian. Branch won via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).

The night’s co-main event between Tyson Nam and Marlon Moraes picked the momentum back up. Moraes kept Nam on his toes and had him guessing where the attack was coming from. It would be a glancing high-leg kick to Nam’s head that would begin the end. Moraes followed his opponent to the mat and finished with a plethora of shots until the referee stepped in to stop the fight. It was a quick, exciting end to this bantamweight bout and at 2-0 in the WSOF, Moraes is at the top of the list of bantamweight title contenders.

Moraes’s KO victory set the stage for the night’s heavyweight main event between Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski in a three-round contest.

The two heavyweights went at it for the full 15 minutes as they stood tall trading vicious strikes. This bout almost ended at the end of the first round. Johnson knocked down Arlovski twice in under ten seconds, but as he looked for a finish the bell rang. Thus saving “The Pitbull”. It was more of the same in the second round as Johnson landed vicious strike after vicious strike, but was unable to finish Arlovski. Nearing the end of the round it was obvious that Johnson, who had moved up to heavyweight, was running low on energy. Entering the third round Johnson employed the punch, punch, shoot for takedown tactic. It didn’t win him the round, but it wouldn’t matter as the judges awarded him the unanimous decision victory (29-28 x 3).

Overall, it was a solid night for World Series of Fighting. There were glitches and things to be ironed out, but for the promotions second event it was enjoyable and the fights went as expected. The more their roster grows and talent pool deepens, they’ll just get better. For tonight, the growing pains were evident but the action inside the decagon gave viewers a reason to cheer.

Nitesh Dutt is a Productions Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.