The infamous UFC castoff Rousimar Palhares returns to action on Saturday night, but this time under the lights of a new promotion. After being cut by the UFC for repeated problems with holding dangerous submissions too long, Palhares continues his welterweight push as he faces WSOF welterweight champion Steve Carl for that organization's title.
Will Palhares and Moraes dominate as many expect them to do? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday night.
What: World Series of Fighting 9: Carl vs. Palhares
Where: The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, the six-fight preliminary card starts at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSports.com and the five-fight main card kicks off on NBC Sports at 9 p.m. ET.
Steve Carl vs. Rousimar Palhares
This one is weird. Maybe Carl can stand up to the Palhares leg lock threat. Maybe he rides it out like Alan Belcher did and when things go south for Palhares, he just folds. I wouldn't rule it all out. Still, I see it as unlikely. If we're talking likelihood and what is the most probable outcome, it's Palhares finding an ankle or a knee and tearing it to pieces. I just don't see strong evidence or at least clear evidence on Carl's record that indicates he has what it takes to deal with Palhares' unique and overwhelming attacks.
Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse
Rettinghouse had the best win of his career against Alexis Vila and is a legitimate submission threat, but I just don't see how that's going to help him much against someone as talented as Moraes. The Brazilian can do it all and is a far better athlete. He'll be able to keep the fight standing where he has good fundamentals and ferocious KO power. And even if the fight goes to the floor, he also has solid jiu-jitsu with good submission defense as well. He's truly turned a corner in his career and while I respect the resume Rettinghouse has put together, he's simply not on the same level.
Okami's been out for a while and it's MMA. Anything can happen. We've learned that lesson all too painfully. Yet, all things being equal, this is a gross mismatch. Expect Okami to roll here.
Josh Burkman vs. Tyler Stinson
This is a bit more of an interesting fight than one might assume. I'll take Burkman here, but Stinson could prove to be an interesting challenge if he sits behind the jab. Burkman might decide he wants to take the fight to the mat with his superior wrestling, but Stinson's guard is nothing to play with. Ultimately, I'll side with Burkman's ability to avoid subs and pressure Stinson backwards, both physically and metaphorically, but Stinson might pull the upset in a way few expect.
Ozzy Dugulubgov vs. Johnny Nunez
Nunez is a good wrestler, better than Ozzy and that could play a factor as the bout goes on. I'm still going to side with the Renzo Gracie product, however. I think he might be a better MMA grappler and while he's a bit wide open with his style early and has more muscles than he functionally needs for success, has excellent ground control and strong finishing instincts for someone at his level of the game.