World Series of Fighting returned to NBC Sports Network on Saturday night for its sophomore effort, Arlovski vs. Johnson, from Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
The main event featured a heavyweight bout between former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and former UFC welterweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Coming into the fight, Johnson said this was a one-and-done stop at heavyweight before he returns to 205 pounds.
Andrei Arlovksi vs. Anthony Johnson
On a four-fight winning streak entering the fight, Arlovski started strong, looking confident, working his jab and trying to take control of the fight. Johnson fired off power combinations just enough throughout the opening round to keep Arlovski from overtaking the fight.
Then, in the waning seconds of the round, Johnson followed Arlovski’s best efforts of the fight by connecting with two crushing right hooks that dropped the Belarusian.
Had there been five seconds left on the clock, Johnson likely would have finished the fight right then. There wasn’t, however, and he didn’t.
The fight went on for two more rounds, but Johnson’s right hand took the sting out of Arlovski’s offense and left his timing slightly out of whack.
Even at 230 pounds, Johnson surprisingly had enough firepower to keep attacking Arlovksi and kept him off of his game. Johnson fought to a well-earned unanimous decision victory, but stuck by his claims that he has no intention of making heavyweight his home.
“The man hit like a ton of bricks,” said Johnson. “No, these guys like Andrei Arlovski are too big for Anthony Johnson.”
He left the door to heavyweight cracked open, saying that if World Series of Fighting asked him to do it, he’d likely do it again.
Marlon Moraes vs. Tyson Nam
Marlon Moraes came into this fight with Tyson Nam as one of the hottest bantamweight prospects on the radar, having defeated UFC veteran Miguel Torres in his first World Series of Fighting appearance.
He did nothing to dispel that accolade.
It took a while for Moraes and Nam to finally engage, but when they did, it was explosive, and Moraes emerged with the bigger bang. He gradually started to take over the fight with his punch/kick combinations, but that finished with a blast, dropping Nam with a kick to the head and finishing with a few follow-up punches for good measure.
“I was ready for the war,” Moraes commented after the fight. “Maybe this was the reason I knock him out because I was ready [to] fight 100 percent all the 15 minutes.”
Paulo Filho vs. David Branch
Saturday night was Paulo Filho’s latest step in trying to get his once promising career back on track, following longtime struggles with substance abuse.
Filho nearly didn’t make it to the fight after a reported panic attack nearly halted his travel plans, but he made it to the fight.
David Branch gave Filho no reprieve, taking him to the mat round after round, grounding and pounding him. Branch couldn’t put Filho away, however, even though he had Filho’s arms pinned for a couple minutes of the second round and had free reign with punches.
Filho mounted little to no offense in the fight, but somehow survived all 15 minutes.
Branch scored a unanimous decision victory, giving him wins in both of his fights under the World Series of Fighting banner, but this one had to be special for him, considering his reverence for Filho.
“He was one of my idol’s coming up,” said Branch before shifting his focus to the bigger picture.
“I’ve been hearing some stuff about title shots, I hope I proved myself here tonight.”
Josh Burkman vs. Aaron Simpson
Aaron Simpson pursued Josh Burkman from the opening bell, shooting for a takedown, but settling for pressing him to the cage. Even with his countering style, it was Burkman that took control of the fight early, doing a lot of damage early, dropping Simpson to one knee with a hard right hand midway through the first round.
Simpson wanted to get the fight to the mat, but he couldn’t find his takedown timing before Burkman teed off on him with a flurry of punches, eventually knocking him out with a knee to the face a little over three minutes into the bout.
World Series of Fighting president Ray Sefo mentioned before the bout that the winner would likely fight Jon Fitch at WSOF 3 on June 14 in Las Vegas, but Burkman didn’t seem so sure.
“I'm going to talk to them about it. I think I deserve a title shot,” he said after the fight. “I’ve beat (Gerald) Harris; I’ve beat (Aaron) Simpson. Those are two of the best outside of the UFC.
“I think I’ve earned my title spot. I think Jon Fitch needs to earn his spot and then we can fight for the title.”
JZ Cavalcante vs. Justin Gaethje
Up-and-coming lightweight Justin Gaethje stormed Strikeforce and Dream veteran Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante from the opening bell, unleashing a furious striking attack, rocking Cavalcante with overhand rights and mixing in knees.
It was a right elbow a little over two minutes into the fight, however, that opened a gash over Cavalcante’s left eye, causing the ringside doctor’s to take a look and determine the fight should not continue.
“The bell rings, move forward, don’t take a step backward. That’s what I do,” said Gaethje after the fight, describing his relentless style.
The victory improves the Coloradoan’s record to 8-0, making him a lightweight force to be reckoned with.
-Anthony Johnson def. Andrei Arlovski via Unanimous Decision, R3
-Marlon Moraes def. Tyson Nam via KO (Head Kick and Punches) at 2:55, R1
-David Branch def. Paulo Filho via Unanimous Decision, R3
-Josh Burkman def. Aaron Simpson via TKO (Knee) at 3:04, R1
-Justin Gaethje def. Gesias Cavalcante via TKO (Doctor's Stoppage) at 2:27, R1
-Danillo Villefort def. Kris McCray via Split Decision, R3
-Rick Glenn def. Alexandre Pimentel via KO (Punches) at 1:51, R3
-Waylon Lowe def. Cameron Dollar via KO (Punch) at 2:58, R1
-Richard Patishnock def. Igor Gracie via TKO (Doctor's Stoppage) at 5:00, R1
-Ozzy Dugulubgov def. Chris Wade via Unanimous Decision, R3
-Brenson Hansen def. Tom Marcellino via KO (Flying Knee) at 3:24, R2
-Bill Algeo def. Frank Buenafuente via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 4:36, R2