The World Series of Fighting’s inaugural event has come to pass and overall I would give it a grade of a B-. Looking first at the prelims there were some serious technical issues that got things off to a rough start. Just before the show started it was announced that the Waylon Lowe/ Fabio Mello bout was pulled from the card which is never a good sign. With one less fight on the prelims the promotion was faced with an odd situation and it would appear that NBC came up with an even odder answer. The decision was made to shut down to the online stream of the prelims and not broadcast the Carl/Blackmon or Torres/Cobb fights. Additionally, it was decided that Gregor Gracie versus Tyson Steele would be dropped to the untelevised prelims, taking another fight out of the public view. It appeared that once the main card went live that things started to work out a little bit better for the promotion. The four main card fight went off with only a couple of minor issues and produced some decent highlights that I will talk about in a second. Based on the first show it will be interesting to see if NBC elects to pick up the next WSOF event or not.
On the prediction side of the night it was a little hit and miss. After winning the opening bout I dropped the next 5 in a row. It was a disappointing to see the Lowe/Mello fight come off the board as Lowe was one of my top picks of the night and with the Ronys Torres fight finishing via a split decision not in my favour I was off to a rough start. When the main card began, so did my strong run. After Tyrone Spong got me my second win of the night Marlon Moraes pulled off the big upset over Miguel Torres for my third victory. Rounding out the cards were a couple of knockout wins for Anthony Johnson and Andrei Arlovski to help me finish with a 4-0 main card record and 5-5 record for the night. The Bet Pack, which was cheap at only $7, can be view below. With a 5-5 record you can’t expect too much from the pack but there were a couple of highlights. The Marlon Moraes upset at $3.60 was nice especially since most people didn’t even know who Moraes was before this night. There were a couple of non-picks that I suggested were worth a play including Josh Burkman and Tyson Steele as single bets. Outside of those plays it was a bit of an off night, so let’s look at the fights.
-David Branch won a rather uneventful fight, both guys will obviously get another shot with the promotion, but I would expect it would be on the prelims.
-JZ Cavalcante picked up a win and that is huge for the promotion and I expect him to be promoted to the main card next time out, maybe against Lyle Beerbohm.
-Josh Burkman showed he still has what it takes and I would think a main card spot against another winner tonight in Tyson Steele would make sense. Gerald Harris got outworked and needs to be more aggressive in his next appearance.
– I didn’t get to too see Steve Carl submit Ramico Blackmon with the stream shut down. Carl is a solid veteran and should get a nice second fight, while Blackmon vs Gregor Gracie would be interesting billed as an Olympic level wrestler against a top level BBJ Black belt.
– Didn’t see the Torres/ Cobb fight. Not much I can say here.
– From the play-by-play that I read Gracie started off well but got caught. I already mentioned who I thought these guys could fight above.
– It was clear from the get go that Travis Bartlett was there for only one purpose and that was to serve as a punching bag for Tyrone Spong. I’m not sure who they will bring into fight Spong next I would assume it will be someone that isn’t that savvy on the ground, but I would expect they would be shooting from the opening bell to avoid everything Spong throws.
-Marlon Moraes looked solid and got a big win over a big name. They tried to promote him fighting Tyson Nam next, but the camera main failed to show Nam on the TV despite him coming into the cage Dumb. For Torres I expect he will fight again, not sure against who but his stock and chances to get back to the UFC are at an all time low.
-Johnson showed he has serious power at LHW and won his third straight fight in the division, fourth overall. I don’t know who they will line him up with in his next but I would expect they will sign someone and set up a fight sooner rather than later to build on the impressive knockout win. Maybe another UFC castoff with a bit of a name like Aaron Rosa or Luiz Cain if they can convince him to go back to LHW would fit the bill.
-Andrei Arlovski picked up a nice win in the main event, but nothing too impressive as Cole didn’t offer that much resistance. I would expect that WSOF will want Arlovski to be part of their first Heavyweight title fight if they decide to have one and there are some decent names available. Arlovski is getting ready to face Jeff Monson for Royal FC, with Mirko Cro Cop and Pedro Rizzo meeting in the main event. The winner of Rizzo/ Cro Cop vs Arlovski would be interesting and other names like Todd Duffee and Bobby Lashley could draw some attention as well.
A final note, I think that the WSOF has a chance to remain in business, as long as they don’t go over the top paying big name fighters too much money. I would suggest that their next event should focus more on the main card while using lesser known fighters that will cost them fewer dollars on the prelims. If the trend of signing UFC castoffs continues the they should target a trio of guys for the Welterweight division with DaMarques Johnson, Rich Antonito, and Charlie Brenneman coming to mind along with the aforementioned Luiz Cane, Dennis Hallman, and Carlo Prater also making sense to help bulk up their roster. I did give the first WSOF event a B-, but seeing as it was their first event would like to see them get a second chance to clean a few things up.
Steve Carl $1.29 vs Ramico Blackmon $3.60
I was slightly shocked to see these odds skewed so heavily in favour of Carl. I assume that what it comes down to is the fact that he has big league experience competing in Bellator on multiple occasions and Blackmon does not. Additionally, Blackmon is 41 which will scare some people away. For me, Blackmon’s world class wrestling skills should be the deciding factor here. There is always the possibility that Carl can catch him with a big punch or a submission off his back, but I think that Blackmon @ $3.60 is the play here. I would recommend betting Blackmon as a single bet and as part of a couple of parlays, but remember this is the first fight of the night which I sometimes have trouble predicting and with Blackmon he is taking a step up in competition so there is always the issue of how he will respond. For Carl I would rather stay away from him at $1.29, before I saw these odds I would have had him as the favourite but not nearly this big.
Waylon Lowe $1.67 vs Fabio Mello $2.20
A nice betting line here with the fav sitting above $1.60. I think that Mello has made strides in his career since his record dropped below .500, but he is facing an opponent with a skillset that he hasn’t had to deal with since his streak started. Lowe looked decent in the UFC, a solid mid level fighter and that was at Lightweight. Now that he is fighting at Featherweight his wrestling skills and power should translate well as he will more often then not be the stronger man in the cage. Mello has had issues with fighters taking him down and controlling him, in fact the last time he lost was because of this style. This is a line that we as the bettors can take advantage off, solid value on Lowe at $1.67 and I will be hammering him hard both by himself and as a major part of my parlays. If Mello gets above $2.50, which I don’t think he will I would take a small play on him.
David Branch $1.33 vs Dustin Jacoby $3.40
This line is closer to where it should be, bu I still think we are getting some value with Branch. Jacoby just hasn’t impressed me either time he has stepped up in competition. Branch is a decent fighter and from what I have seen Jacoby’s defensive wrestling was pretty rough around the edges in the UFC and nothing in his fights since then has shown me he as improved it. If this fight goes to the ground, which I expect it will, Branch should dominate and probably finish. Jacoby’s best chance is to keep it standing and catch him with a bomb, in other words a puncher’s chance. That’s not something I like to bet on, take Branch as part of your big parlays, Jacoby is a no play.
Gesias Cavalcante $1.35 vs TJ O’Brien $3.25
Just like Dustin Jacoby above, O’Brien went 0-2 in the UFC, didn’t look that great, and was cut. The difference between that fight and this one is that O’Brien’s opponent here is the favourite purely based on his name, not his recent performance. JZ was at one time considered an elite level 155er but has really struggled in and outside of the cage. JZ has been installed as the favourite because of what people perceive and not recent statistics and facts. The pressure is squarely on his shoulders to win and O’Brien should fight like he has nothing to lose making him dangerous. Additionally, TJ will have some significant physical advantages that will only be magnified if JZ tires after round one which he has a tendency to. Cavalcante is a significant favourite here, but until he shows me he can win again at this level he is not worth the risk at this little of a return. I won’t be betting the farm on TJ, but a small single play and using him as part of 1 or 2 parlays is the way to go. If you don’t want to back O’Brien I would suggest looking for other favourites who pay better and have a better track record of late then JZ.
Gerald Harris $1.29 vs Josh Burkman $3.60
A battle of 2 UFC veterans in this bout. Harris was dumped from the UFC after a 3-1 record, which was a head scratcher. I would say it had a lot to do with his tendency to fight conservative, against both Branch and Falcao he hung back and neither fans nor the UFC brass like to see that. Harris has had a limited amount of action fighting at 170 which is something to take note of, while Burkman has fought there for most of his career. If Harris has a bad weight cut or his conditioning isn’t up to par then Burkman should be able to outwork him and steal a decision. If he does have a good cut I really like Harris’s wrestling and strength to play a big role. I think that this fight could be closer then the odds would suggest which has me trending a little carefully on how much I will include Harris in my primary plays. I would think a small play on Burkman is not a bad idea, but nothing too drastic. Use Hurricane on a secondary parlay and look for other single bet options that might pay better with less risk.
Brian Cobb $2.35 vs Ronys Torres $1.61
Torres is on a significant roll right now so much so that many people feel he should be back in the UFC, this fight will prove it one way or another. Cobb is a decent fighter, but he has had trouble with aggressive grapplers. His fights with McKee and Fickett were major red flags, especially the way Pickett was able to take it to him and dominate the ground game so effectively. For Cobb to win this fight he needs to get it to the ground, but Torres comes out of the same camp as Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and formerly Diego Nunes all fighters that are notoriously difficult to take of their feet (they must be doing something right there). If Cobb can’t get this fight to the ground in an advantageous position then he will need to win this fight with his striking, which could be a tall task. Either way I think that Torres is the more complete fighter and at $1.61 he is the smart play here. I wouldn’t be shocked if his value dropped on Saturday as people start to lay the dollars on him, so get him now.
Tryone Spong $1.18 vs Travs Bartlett $4.25
This fight is a no play for me. Spong’s kickboxing is fantastic, but until we see him fight an MMA bout I can’t risk it and certainly not at $1.18. Bartlett is getting a huge oppurtunity and although he hasn’t fought in quite a while a win here on National TV would most definately revive his career. He knows this and although he is primarily a striker himself, looking for takedowns would be the way to go. I expect that the WSOF execs recognize the importance of put Spong in the cage with someone that wont try and lay on him and chose his opponent carefully, but in the end its either a small play on Bartlett or nothing at all here.
Gregor Gracie $1.38 vs. Tyson Steele $3.00
For similar reasons as to the fight above, the WSOF brass are probably looking to build their promotion on the Gracie name. For that to happen Gracie needs to win this fight and I think that Steele is a perfect opponent for that to happen. Steele isn’t a major striking threat and his greatest asset is his ground game, but nothing that I have seen would indicate he is on Gregor’s level. If Gregor avoids gassing which he did in his second One FC appearance he should be able to pick up the win here either by submission or 3 rounds of top control. I have seen Steele paying out much higher then $3.00 on some sites and if you can get him above $4.50 then take a shot and hope that Gregor gasses. Otherwise, Gracie at anything above $1.30 is worth inclusion on your parlays for the night.
Miguel Torres $1.30 vs. Marlon Moraes $3.30
Here is my biggest upset pick of the night. Who is Marlon Moraes? No one, as far as most are concerned and based on the boards I have read next to no one is giving him a chance to win this fight. Moraes has heavy hands, dangerous Muay Thai, is more then aware of Torres issues with taking a punch. Miguel was mentally broken after getting smashed by Brian Bowles, he got beat in his follow up fight when he was again tagged but this time submitted. He was rebuilt and after some success was against brutally knocked out and it will be interesting to see how he comes out in this fight. He has the skills to win- using his reach and long jab to keep Moraes out of range but if Moraes get inside and lands a big shot even without knocking Torres out it will be a game changer. Torres fights differently after he gets hit and doesn’t use his reach as well as he should. On the ground Torres is dangerous, but unless Moraes takes him down or something in the striking leads to the ground I don’t expect to see a lot of grappling going on. I expected Moraes to be a significantly higher favourite then this, maybe closer to $4.00 based on Torres’s name alone, but I am still happy to take him at $3.30. I fully advocate a solid single bet on Moraes and incorporating him into a parlay or 2 is a decent play too. For Torres he needs a win to show me that he has mentally recovered from his last fight before I lay any coin on him.
Anthony Johnson $1.37 vs DJ Linderman $3.01
Anthony Johnson should have extra motivation heading into this fight. He is determined to return to the UFC and with a win here he will be 3-0 at LHW and should be one more step closer towards his goal. Linderman should be just as motivated as a win here over Rumble puts him on the map very quickly. Johnson has looked good so far at 205; it would appear that this weight class makes sense for him and we have yet to see any of the conditioning issues that had bothered him in the lighter divisions. I like Johnson’s use of kicks to to maintain distance and keep Linderman out of range and his size to control him in close. DJ has fought at HW before which should help prepare him to deal with a big physical fighter like Johnson, but Anthony’s size combined with his athleticism should help him get the better of most situations. Johnson isn’t a bad play @ $1.37 and I will use him in most scenarios and while Linderman is a veteran this is a big step up in competition where he should be paying more then just $3.00, pass.
Andrei Arlovski $1.40 vs Devon Cole $2.90
Main event time and this is a fight where I wouldn’t mind having the majority of my bets wrapped up when this one gets going. Arlovski hasn’t looked that great over his last 3 despite a 2-0-0 1NC record in that time and Cole has been out of action for almost a whole year which could be an issues too. If Cole can use his wrestling to control Arlovski and neutralize his striking it could be his path to victory. If Cole can’t cut the distance down and is force to stand at distance with Andrei he will most likely get picked apart from the outside. Andrei’s chin is a concern and it has forced him into a more conservative style, almost like point fighting. As a result I would be more likely to play a prop bet on this fight, but I will most likely use Arlovski at least once on a parlay. For Cole he is worth a look at especially if he can get over the $3.00 mark, but I would go much further then a small single bet.
1. Anthony Johnson $1.37
2. Gregor Gracie $1.38
Waylon Lowe $1.67
4. David Branch $1.33
5. Ronys Torres $1.61
1. Ramico Blackmon $3.60
2. Marlon Moraes $3.30
Waylon Lowe $1.67
4. TJ O’Brien $3.25
5. Ronys Torres $1.61
The Value Bet list is a list of fighters ranked based on a combination of their ability to win their fight and the potential financial return you would receive if they win.
Steve Carl/ Ramico Blackmon Total Rounds Over 1.5 or 2.5- Blackmon’s wrestling is what I am banking on here. If he can stay on top and control Carl he should be able to grind this one out. I don’t expect him to take many chances to try and finish because Carl has submission offense off back which is a serious threat that he will have to be careful of. Blackmon should resort to what he knows and that is wrestling
TJ O’Brien/ JZ Cavalcante Total Rounds Over 1.5– Both guys are capable of finishing, but if TJ is going to win he will need to drag this fight into deep waters and tire JZ out. For Cavalcante he does need to get this over quickly, but just like in the Vaille-Flagg fight the longer it goes the less likely he is to get the stoppage. Additionally, TJ wins most of his fights by submission which I don’t see happening against JZ unless he gets really tired, so a decision is most likely.
Andrei Arlovski/ Devin Cole Total Rounds Over 1.5- I will assume this fight is set at 1.5, if its at 2.5 jump on it hard. Cole is a tough guy to finish and Arlovski’s new conservative style might not give him the chance to put Devin away. Andrei’s chin is a concern, but Cole isn’t an elite level striker so he will have to catch him in a rush, which is a possibility but not a likely one. I actually think this fight could be a let down and go to the cards unlike most Heavyweight bouts.