World Series of Fighting 25: Who, What, When, Why and How

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What: The World Series of Fighting will host an eight-man lightweight tournament. The winner will get a future shot at Justin Gaethje’s lightweight championship.

When: Quarterfinal fights begin on the preliminary card Friday, November 20th at 8 p.m. on WSOF.com. The semifinals and championship round will air on the main card, which will take place at 11 p.m. on NBCSN.

Where: Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.

Who: Here are the eight fighters who will participate in the tournament.

Rich Patishnock: The tournament is another chance to claim the lightweight title that he was ever so close to winning back in January 2014. Patishnock had a chance to win the lightweight championship, but lost to Gaethje in the main event of the WSOF 8 event. This will be the first time we’ve seen Patishnock in the decagon since his loss to Gaethje.

Brian Cobb: The 35-year old high school math and physics teacher will make his return to the WSOF for the first time since the WSOF 2 event in June of 2013. Cobb lost by TKO to Gaethje.

Luis Palomino: Pushed Gaethje in his last two title defenses, including a dramatic main event at the WSOF 19 event.

Brian Foster: In Foster’s 30 career fights, just one has gone to a decision. The 35-year old rebounded from a loss to Jake Shields at WSOF 17 with a knockout victory over Larue Burley in September.

Joao Zeferino: A former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who has 13 career submission victories…in the first round.

Mike Ricci: “The Ultimate Fighter 16” finalist will make his WSOF debut against Cobb in the quarterfinals.

Islam Mamedov: Is on an 11 fight winning streak entering the tournament. Mamedov has dominated in his two WSOF fights (WSOF 20 vs. Leon Davis, WSOF 23 vs. Jimmy Spicuzza). The 25-year old won both fights in the first round by TKO.

Jorge Patino: The elder statesman of the tournament. The 42-year old Brazilian has been fighting professionally since 1995. The last time Patino was in the decagon, he lost a hard fought contest to Palomino.

How: The tournament will consist of four quarterfinal fights that will last two rounds. The winners from those fights will face off in the semifinals, which will again last for two rounds each. The two winners will then advance to the main event of WSOF 25, which will be a three round bout.

Here are quarterfinal fights that will take place during the prelims:

Islam Mamedov vs. Jorge Patino, Brian Cobb vs. Mike Ricci

Brian Foster vs. Joao Zeferino, Luis Palomino vs. Rich Patishnock

There will also be two reserve fights to determine who may enter the tournament as an alternate in case someone has to leave due to exhaustion or injury. The two reserve bouts will take place on the prelims and will feature these four fighters:

Benny Madrid vs. Ramil Mustapayev

LaRue Burley vs. Joe Condon

Why: Since becoming the first lightweight champion in WSOF history, Gaethje has successfully defended his title four times, including two exciting fights with Luis Palomino. The eight man tournament will give everyone involved an opportunity to become the first man to defeat Gaethje inside the decagon.

 

Tony Ferguson betting favorite against Kevin Lee in UFC 216 main event

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A nine-fight win streak and fight fans’ preference to see strikers win out over grinders might be why Tony Ferguson is such a big favorite against Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Ferguson is the -225 betting favorite with Lee coming back at +175 as they meet for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

As noted, Ferguson has won his last nine bouts, ending six early for a nice 66.7 percent rate. For his part, Lee has won five consecutive bouts, ending four early.

Ferguson prefers to work at distance with jabs and kicks, gradually chipping away at his opponent. The 33-year-old is a more well-rounded fighter than the 25-year-old Lee, so laying chalk is justifiable since this bout could go either way.

There is a good case to take Lee and the plus money, though. Lee is far beyond the typical lightweight in how often he attempts takedowns and how often he winds up gaining control. Succeeding in that strategy would leave Ferguson unable to use his best assets.

Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (-1200) is a massive favorite against Ray Borg (+700). Johnson is simply too complete a fighter to lose against a boxer-wrestler type such as Borg, but Borg has a great ability to get off of his back and will make Johnson work for the win. Eleven of the last 14 UFC fights (78.6 percent) in which one fighter was a favorite of -1200 or more ended with a stoppage, and based on form Johnson should extend the trend.

The potential upset on the main card involves the heavyweight tilt between former champion Fabricio Werdum (-260) and Derrick Lewis (+200). Werdum’s weakness is his striking defense and Lewis has secured 16 of his 18 career MMA wins via knockout, which seems like a lethal combination in Lewis’ favour. Werdum’s chances of winning likely rest on him wearing Lewis down or getting a takedown that sets up a submission.

As well, Beneil Dariush (-240) is favored against Evan Dunham (+190) on the UFC 216 odds in a lightweight bout that is likely to be heavy on grappling, increasing the possibility of it going the distance. Four of Dariush’s last eight fights were decided by a decision, while Dunham’s four-fight win streak consists entirely of victories by decision.

As long as Dariush stays aggressive in the stand-up game – and he likely won’t have to worry about walking into a devastating punch against a grinder like Dunham – he should be able to get the win.

And Kalindra Faria (-200) is favored against UFC newcomer Mara Romero Borella (+160), a replacement opponent who took the fight after  Andrea Lee was pulled out for not having an up-to-date anti-doping clearance.

Faria is the more seasoned fighter and her ability to throw combinations has helped her score knockouts in more than half of her 18 career professional wins. Romero Borella is undefeated in her last six fights, but prior to that was finished by strikes in three consecutive fights, so there’s potential for an early ending.

UFC 214: Jones heavy favorite against Cormier in co-main event

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If one believes a long hiatus from the Octagon benefits a fighter’s mystique more than technique, then the price might be right on Daniel Cormier.

Ahead of the most fervently anticipated rematch in the company’s history, Jon Jones is a -260 favorite against the +200 underdog Cormier in the co-main event for UFC 214 on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The fight, which will top off a loaded main card at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, has been in the offing since about 30 seconds after Jones won an unanimous decision against Cormier early in 2015, but Jones’ doping suspension has prevented it from happening.

The prices have moved in Jones’ favor since he opened at -150 with Cormier coming back at +120. Before the layoff, Jones was perhaps the best fighter to ever grace the UFC and it’s understandable why fans believe he’ll use his long reach to keep Cormier at bay and get him in the clinch.

Cormier backers, though, can take heart in the belief that his takedown defense could be sharper than it was against Jones 2 1/2 years ago. The bottom line is it’s rare to get a champion at such a high price.

In the co-main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (-205) is favored against challenger Demian Maia (+165). Maia, who is plus money for the first time since 2014 (a bout that he lost to Rory MacDonald in a unanimous decision), is singleminded about getting a match to the mat in order to work toward a submission.

If Woodley can keep his focus on his takedown defense and keep the fight on their feet, his edge in athleticism and youth might prove to be the determining factor.

The prices for the women’s featherweight title fight between Cristiane (Cris Cyborg) Justino (-1100) and challenger Tonya Evinger (+650) underscore the difficulty Cyborg has finding a foe.  Cyborg has ended her last seven fights early, five in the first round. It might be better to pore over the odds on how many rounds Evinger, a solid wrestler, can hang in for during a fight that she accepted on relatively short notice.

Robbie Lawler (-160) is a slight favorite against Donald Cerrone (+130) in a twice-rescheduled welterweight matchup. It’s hard to know what to expect from Lawler, who’s been set back by injuries since his last fight against Woodley exactly 52 weeks ago. Cerrone is often vulnerable against left-handers such as Lawler, but takes an edge in stamina into what shapes up as an all-out brawl.

The main card starts off with a light heavyweight title eliminator, where Jimi Manuwa (-190) is favored against Volkan Oezdemir (+150). Manuwa, who is on a three-fight win streak, is the more developed and technically proficient of the two strikers. That might give him the edge against Oezdemir. It could be a quick resolution either way – Manuwa has 10 first-round knockouts in 17 pro fights, while Oezdemir has a powerful left hand and ample motivation to get a knockout and score a fight-of-the-night bonus.