World Series of Fighting returns to television with a card featuring three title bouts, one at middleweight, one at featherweight and one at women's strawweight. It features returning champion Georgi Karakhanyan in the latter and a vacant title up for grabs in the former. Will David Branch of for TUF-contestant Jesse Taylor claim the middleweight title? Is Karakhayan set to retain his title or is the Duke Roufus-protege in Rick Glenn going to shock the world? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.
What: WSOF 10: Branch vs. Taylor
Where: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, the six-fight preliminary card streams live on MMA Fighting at 7 p.m. ET and the five-fight main card goes live on NBC Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET.
I'm not too confident this one is going to be a barn burner, but I'm going to side with Taylor. He can be flaky at times, which makes any real sort of confidence in him a difficult position. I'm picking him to win, though, because his game isn't too difficult to discern. He's going to go for the takedown over and over and once there, he's going to ride top position. Branch's entire job is to stop the first part so the second doesn't take place. I assume he'll have some success with that, but not enough. Eventually Taylor is going to get just enough points to get it done. I don't see Branch as a guy who can stop the takedown and then threaten Taylor on the feet. As such, it's going to be a lot of defensive work.
I believe that Karakhanyan is going to cruise. He's very good everywhere and hugely experienced against top-flight talent. He's fought in championship rounds, too. Glenn seems like a promising midwest prospect, but I'm not sure what I can point to as clear evidence he's got the Armenian's number. I will say he has great use of his reach on the ground, meaning he's able to avoid posture control while throwing heavy shots. He does that all while maintaining dominant position, which is a feat of talent as much as balance. Karakhanyan will have to be careful to not get stuck underneath the Roufusport talent.
Still, Duke Roufus told me just this week he believes in Glenn and expects him to score a shocking upset. It's not unusual for trainers to support their pupils, of course, but I'm noting it here in case his prediction comes true.
I can't imagine this one will even be close. Aguilar is better everywhere, including being a better, more physical athlete. There's been times where Aguilar has fought down to competition, as is the case with her last bout in Bellator opposite Patricia Vidonic. Still, she won that bout and I simply cannot see a reason why that won't be the case here.
This is the toughest call on the main card. Here we find two very capable fighters with all the skills in the world, but somehow lack the ability to apply them consistently. Neither is necessarily the best striker on earth, with most of their talents involving various versions of scrambling or positional control. I suspect this one is going to go down to the wire, but I like the Brazilian, if just barely. Griffin should be the better scrambler, but doesn't seem to have the same hustle he once did. Against Efrain Escudero, he found himself fighting against Escudero's offense on many occasions simply because he did nothing to prevent it in the first place. Firmino is a very different fighter with plenty of his own limitations, but I get the hunch he might be trying to launch offense that Griffin is just going to be willing to stop without responding in kind.
Palmer has had his issues with fighters who can neutralize him as a wrestling threat. When they do, he's a much more manageable task. When they can't, he's a nightmare. LoBosco is an intriguing talent on the rise, but this might be too much for him, too soon.