Its odd not having a UFC show this weekend and we won’t have one until April 6th, when the UFC returns to Sweden for Gustafsson vs. Mousasi. Thus there exists an opening for someone to get a little buzz with the whole MMA world being open for a bit. The World Series of Fighting is on this Saturday and as such we get to see some fairly decent MMA on NBC Sports without the Zuffa envelope surrounding it. We’ll have a full preview later in the week, of course, but for now I present a quick viewer’s guide to the event.
When you look at the main card it’s actually not all that bad for a card outside of Zuffa or Bellator:
Andrei Arlovski vs. Anthony Johnson
Marlon Moraes vs. Tyson Nam
Dave Branch vs. Paulo Filho
Josh Burkman vs. Aaron Simpson
Gesias Cavalcante vs. Justin Gaethje
There are three fights worth watching because they have some massive consequences and the opening two should be fun scraps with guys who are fringe UFC types.
Arlovski/Johnson is at heavyweight and might be the most interesting fight of the card because of where both guys are looking to go afterwards. Arlovski and Johnson are looking to get back to the UFC for differing reasons. Arlovski wants to retire there, I think, and have one last run against the elite before he does so. Johnson looked like an elite welterweight … until he stopped being able to make weight.
And then couldn’t make middleweight, either … and didn’t handle making weight in the classiest manner, either.
Now he’s a big light heavyweight who can make 205 without a problem (apparently) and is fighting Arlovski at heavyweight. I’ll be curious what he weighs in at before the fight; it’ll be telling how much he cuts to 205 from there. Rumble should be back in Zuffa in short order, especially if he makes Arlovski face plant one more time. The key is that LHW is running out of challengers for Jon Jones and as such a win or two in Zuffa, as well as the ability to make 205 without issues, could vault Johnson back into the elite of a division.
Moraes vs. Nam is to crown the best bantamweight not currently in the UFC or Bellator. Moraes had an impressive win over Miguel Torres at the WSOF debut and Nam thumped Bellator’s bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas. A win here and my guess is Nam gets a UFC contract; on the eyeball test he looks like a top 10 fighter in the division and Zuffa would be crazy to not sign him.
Paulo Filho vs. Branch is the fight to watch; Filho was the best middleweight in the world many moons ago and then has lost his way due to a variety of personal problems. He’s been in and out of drug rehab, among others, and should’ve been a much bigger star and fighter than he’s wound up becoming. He’s 34 and nearing the end of his career; if he has one last run to the top in him it has to start now. Filho’s the ultimate “potential” guy … he could’ve been a worthy challenger to Anderson Silva in the UFC if he hadn’t succumbed to personal demons.
The prelims will be on Sherdog and have a couple of solid names. Cameron Dollar and Kris McCray are former TUF standouts looking to show themselves worthy of the Octagon one more time.