WSOF 3 predictions

USA TODAY Sports

It's a card of Zuffa castoffs as one of MMA's rising promoters hosts their third show this weekend. Former UFC welterweight top contender Jon Fitch makes his first appearance outside of the UFC Octagon in nearly eight years and faces a man again who he once defeated in the aforementioned organization.

Can Fitch do it again? Is he still competitive despite his advancing age? Will Burkman prove he's having something of a career resurgence? I answer these questions and more with predictions for Friday's fights.

What: WSOF 3: Fitch vs. Burkman 2

Where: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

When: Saturday, the five-fight preliminary Internet card starts at 8:30 p.m. ET while the four-fight NBC Sports card starts at 11 p.m.

Jon Fitch vs. Josh Burkman

I though the reasons for Fitch being cut from the UFC were absurd as was the declaration that he was particularly expensive. However, I do agree somewhat with UFC President Dana White on his assessment of Fitch's ability. I like Fitch to win, but we probably should more firmly accept the notion that the days of Fitch being a de facto unstoppable force to all things not named Georges St-Pierre is long gone. He can be hurt, out grappled, out wrestled, knocked out, finished and controlled.

Burkman is also a much better version of himself. I'm not entirely sure just how good that is, though. From what I've been able to tell, Fitch's game - even if in slight decline - is still properly situated to give Burkman fits. It might be closer than we expect, but Fitch should repeat here.

Pick: Fitch

Steve Carl vs. Tyson Steele

Carl's loses are to fighter who are positively no joke. He's also got much more experience at meaningful levels of MMA and a very respectable skill set to match Steele's particular strengths. Carl might get pushed, but should look good.

Pick: Carl

Jacob Volkmann vs. Lyle Beerbohm

Beerbohm's grappling style is the equivalent to speed chess. That means he's likely going to create scrambles or hit escapes to keep things interesting. The problem is his fast and loose style will likely put him right back into a bad position. Against a much more technical, dominant wrestler who prefers to hold traditional positions, that's going to make winning a difficult proposition.

Pick: Volkmann

Justin Gaethje vs. Brian Cobb

I actually like Cobb a lot and think highly of his ability. He's about as good as a journeyman could ever hope to be. In this particular case, however, Gaethje's wrestling combined with his pressure attack is going to be too much for Cobb to handle. Gaethje is more vulnerable with his defense than some are aware and Cobb might find some success in using his patience and experience to exploit that, but generally speaking, I expect Gaethje to simply overwhelm him.

Pick: Gaethje

From the preliminary card:

Jerrod Sanders > Jeff Smith
John Gunderson > Dan Lauzon
Joe Murphy < Carson Beebe
Krasimir Mladenov > Kendrick Miree
Brenson Hansen > Josh Montalvo

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