The World Series of Fighting kicks off their 2014 calendar tonight as they stage the organization's eighth event, this time in Florida. Headlining the action is the inaugural battle for their lightweight title in a bout that features one of their risking stars in Justin Gaethje. The card also features the return of Anthony Johnson and the WSOF debut of top women's strawweights.
Will Gaethje make good on his promise and capture the WSOF lightweight title? Can Anthony Johnson continue his run of post-UFC dominance? I answer these questions and more tonight's fights.
What: WSOF 8: Gaethje vs. Patishnock
Where: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida
When: Saturday, the five-fight preliminary card streams live on MMA Fighting at 6:30 p.m. ET and the five-fight main card goes live on NBC Sports Network at 9 p.m. ET.
Justin Gaethje vs. Richard Patishnock
I'd really like to see Gaethje tighten up his defense sooner rather than later. Not just because it's a portion of his game that's lacking, but because against better competition he's likely to face in the future, he'll need it. For now, though, his ultra-aggressive style should be more than enough. Patishnock is a solid fighter, but Gaethje's ability to open up his takedowns with aggressive strikes and forward movement is going to put Patishnock on the defensive early and often.
Writing off Kyle as a hopeless case here wouldn't be fair, but the rational nod has to be for Johnson. He's quicker, more technical and better at mastering distance. He's also an effective counterstriker with angles, which will be particularly useful against Kyle's forward movement. Kyle can put anyone's lights out, but he's going to have a hard time taking this one to the mat. And if this stays standing, Johnson should be able to employ his far more diverse striking arsenal.
There's tape on Gray, but we don't really know her upper limit. She hasn't faced the sort of competition that can answer that question. Aguilar, however, we have a better sense about. I suspect if she can't get it done on the feet, Aguilar will have enough to mat wrestle Gray. Still, these are the sorts of bouts you have to watch out for when trying to make predictions. Gray could easily rise to the occasion and surprise everyone.
Nam does not deserve to be the odds-on favorite here. Bollinger, when prepared and focused, is capable enough to secure the takedown and control the bout there as a mat wrestler. If Bollinger isn't in shape or tries to get fancy, Nam will be able to make him pay. Again, though, this outcome hinges on Bollinger's preparedness. Despite his weight cut issues on The Ultimate Fighter, I wouldn't bet on them making an appearance here.
I wouldn't be so quick to write off Macaco, but i do think the scrambling ability of Palomino combined with his strong punching power is enough to get the job done. Patino is 40 and much slower, something that plays right into Palomino's style of fighting.