Approaching second event, World Series of Fighting on the rise

Approaching second event, World Series of Fighting on the rise
March 22, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski takes on Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in Saturday's main event. (AP)

Nitesh Dutt

Programming note: World Series of Fighting 2 airs this Saturday at 6:30 PM PT on NBC Sports Network.

The mixed martial arts spectrum is filled with established promotions like UFC and Bellator, and lesser known leagues like the Legacy Fighting Championship, MFC and XFC. There exists another class, the popular and up-and-coming MMA promotion, which is best exemplified by World Series of Fighting.

Led by President and six-time Muay Thai World Champion Ray Sefo, WSOF is approaching its second promotional event. After a successful debut in November of last year, Sefo and company are experiencing major growth. They’ve recently inked a three-year deal with NBC Sports Network to air 8-10 events per year.

Other evidence of its growth lies in the expanding roster. Most notably, they’ve signed former UFC Welterweight Jon Fitch. Sefo has been adamant in bringing the best talent possible to WSOF, while not competing with the UFC. It makes sense, then, that they’ve held shows on dates where they aren’t up against any UFC event, which is the case this Saturday night. WSOF 2 is headlined by a pair of former UFC contenders in heavyweight action.

Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski takes on Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in the main event, a non-title bout. Arlovski (19-9-0, 1 NC) looks to be a force in the promotion’s heavyweight division and has a chance to go 2-0 under the World Series of Fighting banner. Johnson (14-4-0), who is making his heavyweight debut, has fought at every weight class from welterweight up and adds much-needed depth to a shallow division.

Rosters at all weight classes currently lack significant depth, but WSOF and Sefo give fighters an option besides UFC and Bellator. They’ve already opened their doors to former UFC fighters, something Bellator has been against, and will continue to build their roster anyway they can.

Back for its second show, WSOF can prove it is one of the prominent promotions in MMA. This card is stacked with veterans and years of experience. Some of the fights worth looking forward to are Arlovski vs. Johnson, Tyson Nam vs. Marlon Moraes and Aaron Simpson vs. Josh Burkman:

Arlovski vs. Johnson: This heavyweight battle is one nobody thought they’d ever see. Arlovski has made his career in the heavyweight division, but Johnson is brand new to the weight class. Both fighters are accustomed to finishes as they have 24 combined victories by way of TKO/KO. This bout promises to be one of those heavyweight brawls that ends with both men bloody and one getting knocked out. There is not yet a title picture for any of the weight classes, but stacking up victories could lead to one of these two becoming inaugural champion.
PICK: Arlovski

Nam vs. Moraes: Both fighters come into this bout riding impressive win streaks. Moraes (9-4-1) is coming off a split decision victory over Miguel Torres at WSOF 1 and is inching closer to the top of the bantamweight division. Nam (12-4-0), on the other hand, is riding a four-fight win streak and is making his promotional debut. The WSOF newcomer is coming into the promotion with hype and power. Half his wins have come via TKO/KO.

Simpson vs. Burkman: Another bout of former UFC veterans, Simpson (12-4-0) and Burkman (24-9-0) promises to be an exciting welterweight matchup. This one is more interesting due to the fact that the winner will likely face Jon Fitch when he makes his promotional debut. Don’t be fooled though, the WSOF’s welterweight division does not circle around Fitch and both these fighters will do their best to show that. Simpson and Burkman have been through countless battles over their careers and Saturday promises to be yet another one.
PICK: Simpson