World Series of Fighting 1 predictions

Devin Cole faces off with Andrei Arlovski - Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The latest promotion in the world of mixed martial arts at the sub-UFC level to capture the MMA fanbase's imagination launches their inaugural show this evening. And while there's no long-term television deal or any guarantee they put on a series of shows, there is hope and belief among many this promotion could survive to service MMA fighters and the sport itself by staging international-class MMA fights beyond the Zuffa universe.

Perhaps most importantly, tonight's show features intriguing figures whose career trajectories have garnered interest. Kickboxing great Tyrone Spong makes his first attempt at becoming a MMA fighter while UFC veterans Anthony Johnson and Miguel Torres look to earn strong victories over reasonably challenging regional MMA fighters, all in the hope of returning to the big show.

Can Johnson and Torres do it? What does Spong really have to offer in MMA? And can former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski finally get a post-UFC win streak going? I answer these questions and more with predictions for tonight's event.

What: World Series of Fighting 1 (WSOF)

When: The six-fight preliminary card airs live and free on beginning at 7:45 p.m. ET. The five-fight main card airs live on NBC Sports at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Where: Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, Nevada

Andrei Arlovski vs. Devin Cole

Call me crazy, but I worry this bout has the makings of an upset. Cole is no world-beater, but he is extremely tough, very experienced and knows to turn a bout into a wrestling match if need be. Cardio as well as ring rust could be an issue, but Arlovski just fights with such autopilot inertia these days when a bout isn't at kickboxing range. If I'm reading too much into his four-fight losing skid in Strikeforce, so be it, but I'm betting Cole turns this into an ugly affair by sticking to Arlovski. He'll constantly pressure him forcing him into pummeling exchanges, wrestling leg and hip attacks or top control. If the fight stays standing, Arlovski should cruise, but I think it's naive to assume Cole is going to let the former UFC heavyweight champion comfortably rest there. Arlovski's takedown is historically very good, but he's also only faced takedown threats a handful of times (Ricco Rodriguez, Jake O'Brien, Antonio Silva, etc.). Cole can win this thing.

Pick: Cole

Anthony Johnson vs. D.J. Linderman

Here's another bout where the matchmaking at WSOF deserves some credit. They're setting up UFC vets to win, but not by feeding them stiffs. Linderman doesn't have the athletic or technical ability of Johnson, but he's a) very experienced, b) physically durable, c) accustomed to heavy punchers as a former heavyweight and d) isn't simply a flailing brawler. Where I think things will go wrong for him is in Johnson's speed and combination striking. Ultimately I don't see how Linderman has any answers for that, although Johnson may take a round or two to truly uncork on him. Either way, Johnson should walk away the winner.

Pick: Johnson

Miguel Torres vs. Marlon Moraes

This is actually a reasonable tune-up fight for Torres. In other words, Torres - if he's on his game - simply has too many tools for Moraes, but is going to have to work to bring them to life over a competitor who is not half bad. This is Torres' fight to lose, but Moraes is capable of making that happen. He's hung in there with very good fighters and defeated talent regional-level opposition along the way. Yes, Torres is a league above that, but in a game like MMA where controlling for all the variables can be difficult, the one-time WEC champ will need to be ready.

Pick: Torres

Gregor Gracie vs. Tyson Steele

This is an interesting bout and one where the oddsmakers are lunchin'. It's true that Steele's best strength is Gracie's best strength and because Gracie is the far more decorated grappler, therefore Gracie deserves to be the favorite. All that is fine, but Gracie isn't exactly tearing it up in MMA over respected, known competition. Steele has largely faced other Canadian regional fighters. In any case, the difference in MMA ability is not as dramatic as they're making it out out to be. I like Gracie to win, but if there's an upset here, do not be the least bit surprised.

Pick: Gracie

Tyrone Spong vs. Travis Barlett

WSOF has rightfully served up Spong a brawler for the kickboxing great's first foray into MMA. And so long as Barlett does what he's typically accustomed to doing, Spong should have his way. Still, I would caution everyone to manage their expectations about Spong. Even in brawling MMA contexts, things come into play that call upon MMA experience or acumen. And frankly, we know very little to nothing about Spong in that regard.

Pick: Spong

More from MMA Fighting

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.

Join MMA Fighting

You must be a member of MMA Fighting to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMA Fighting. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.