World Series of Fighting made its first trip to Kansas City on Friday night, and David Branch successfully defended one of his belts in the main event.
Originally headlined by lightweight champion Justin Gaethje against Ozzy Dugulubgov – canceled hours before the event due to the challenger’s illness –, WSOF 33 featured two-division champion Branch putting his 205-pound title on the line against Vinny Magalhaes, and he dominated the Brazilian for five rounds to remain unbeaten under the WSOF banner.
Putting his light heavyweight title on the line for the first time, Branch, who also holds the middleweight crown, came close to stopping Magalhaes in the second round, dropping him to the ground and rocking him standing. The referee didn’t stop the contest, but Magalhaes couldn’t offer any trouble to the champion from that moment on. After five rounds, Branch was declared the winner by unanimous decision.
"I'm really trying to cement my name in MMA, and be the best fighter in the world," Branch said after the win. "I'm the only two-division champion on the planet Earth, and I have to go out there and make a statement every time I fight."
After defending the 205-pound gold for the first time, Branch indicated that his future might be as a middleweight.
"I don't know if I'm going to be able to stay at 205 much longer," he said. "I definitely feel the difference in size."
Following the unanimous decision loss, his first defeat in five fights after leaving the UFC in 2013, Magalhaes was clearly disappointed and talked of retirement.
"I wasn't finding my range at all," said the Brazilian, who held a 2-0 record under the WSOF banner prior to his clash with Branch. "There was nothing that I was throwing that I was able to land."
In the co-main event, Kansas City’s Jason High took on Joao Zeferino in a 160-pound catchweight bout, but didn’t get a reason to celebrate in his hometown. High had a good start, almost choking out the Brazilian seconds into the bout with a guillotine, but Zeferino escaped and showed his heavy hands later in the first round. Zeferino dropped High in the third and kept landing more punches until the referee stopped the fight.
João Zeferino def Jason High via TKO #WSOF33 pic.twitter.com/NoyALQiZU3— WSOF (@MMAWorldSeries) October 8, 2016
Coming off a quick loss to WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje in March, Brian Foster bounced back to the win column in impressive fashion. Facing longtime MMA veteran Luiz Firmino, Foster snapped the Brazilian’s six-fight winning streak with a first-round triangle choke. Firmino tapped quickly, and left the cage complaining about an illegal kick right before the finish.
Brian Foster def Luiz Firmino via Triangle #WSOF33 Then things get a little heated pic.twitter.com/CxIyYNUmIM— WSOF (@MMAWorldSeries) October 8, 2016
In the welterweight division, Abubakar Nurmagomedov continued his rise with a solid win over John Howard. Mixing up his striking and wrestling, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s brother rocked Howard in the second round, dropping him with a right hand, and continued dominating the action en route to a clear unanimous decision victory.
Shawn Jordan made his promotional debut in Kansas City, and had no trouble defeating 41-year-old Ashley Gooch in the first round. After rocking his opponent with a right elbow, the UFC veteran took Gooch to the ground and finished the fight with heavy punches with 20 seconds left in the clock.
Shawn Jordan DEF Ashley Gooch via TKO #WSOF33 pic.twitter.com/mOvWob6AL1— WSOF (@MMAWorldSeries) October 8, 2016
In the main card’s opening bout, Timur Valiev used his wrestling to control Chris Gutierrez and avenge his most recent loss. Valiev, who lost a split decision to Gutierrez back in February, bounced back to the win column with a unanimous decision victory at WSOF 33.