Two UFC veterans will do battle in the WSOF 30 main event when current WSOF Middleweight and Light heavyweight champion David Branch (17-3) attempts to defend his 185lb title against Clifford Starks (13-2). The event takes place April 2nd in Las Vegas, Nevada.

David Branch was never able to make it to the top in the UFC, however at his new home, the World Series of Fighting, the 34 year-old American seems to have finally found his groove. He is the reigning WSOF Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion. He’s currently riding a seven fight win streak, all of them have come under the WSOF banner. Branch has finished his past four opponents so Clifford Starks will need to be at his best on April 2nd.

Clifford Starks only has two losses on his professional MMA record, and both of those losses were in the UFC against Yoel Romero and Ed Herman. Outside of the UFC he’s perfect, including a five fight winning streak which has landed him in the title fight opposite David Branch.  Where Branch is able to end the fight anywhere, Starks will need to rely on a strong wrestling game to grind out his opponent.

WSOF 30 airs April 2nd on NBCSN, the prelims begin at 8pm ET and the main card has a later than usual start time at 11:30pm ET.  The co-main event is for the vacant WSOF welterweight title when Jon Fitch meets Joao Zeferino.  For more coverage of WSOF 30 and everything MMA keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Editor/Writer

 

The 2014 calendar for UFC has already become a very interesting one because of the rather sudden absence of not just Georges St. Pierre, but Anderson Silva, too. The sport, to an extent, is reeling and anticipating what is likely an inevitable (if hopefully temporary) drop-off in popularity without its two most prominent fighters. Anthony Johnson UFCHowever, one of the early 2014 events that has been getting significant attention in the wake of the St. Pierre and Silva retirements is UFC 172, where Jon “Bones” Jones will seek to stake his claim as the biggest name in mixed martial arts.

The headline event at UFC 172 will feature Jones defending his light heavyweight title against Brazilian jiu jitsu natural and former Chuck Liddell trainee Glover Teixeira in what is being billed as a major fight. It’s an interesting headline bout, though a look at the actual odds on the fight makes things seem a bit less interesting. The Betfair news sports betting section has early odds on UFC 172 posted, and it has Jones listed as a fairly overwhelming favorite (at 1/5 backing odds) to win the fight. By contrast, the site offers 9/2 odds for Teixeira to pull off the upset, indicating perhaps a slightly wider gap between the fighters than some fans might expect.

However, for those thinking that UFC 172 may feature a lopsided bout at the top of the card, some intrigue was added this past week when it was announced that Anthony Johnson would be making a return to UFC, and was added to the card in a fight with Phil Davis.

While Johnson has not exactly put together a remarkable career in UFC, returns are always interesting, and he’s had a fairly convincing run in fights outside the octagon. MMA Junkie discusses that after Johnson was let go by UFC for failing to make weight one too many times, he’s essentially gone on an impressive winning spree with Titan Fighting Championships and WSOF.

Now on his way back to UFC, Johnson is actually a particularly entertaining fighter, having taken six of his seven UFC victories via knockout. His overall record is not that impressive (7-4 in UFC fights), and he’s by no means a definite favorite over Phil Davis, who is on a four match winning streak of his own (betting odds for the fight should emerge shortly). But in the end, this fight should add some excitement to a card that UFC is starting to depend on rather heavily in early 2014.

Jon Fitch wanted to prove his critics wrong. He felt the UFC had no reason to release him earlier this year. Well if it had anything to do with his performance in the cage, UFC president Dana White must feel pretty good about his decision after Friday night.

Fitch returned to action at the World Series of Fighting 3, when he faced Josh Burkman in the main event. The two had met in 2005 when they were still on the UFC roster. Fitch won that fight by submitting Burkman in the 2nd round.  So, his fans expected this to be a winnable fight. Most people probably expected him to win.

Apparently Josh Burkman didn’t get the memo, because at the opening bell he immediately baited Fitch into trading punches. He rocked him with a left-right combination and Fitch dropped to his knees. Instead of punching his opponent, Burkman seized an opportunity and grabbed ahold of the neck. They got to their feet and Burkman pulled guard. Seconds later he released an unconscious Jon Fitch from the guillotine choke.

Josh Burkman actually showed great awareness by releasing the choke, as referee Steve Mazzagatti seemed to not realize that Fitch had gone limp. It was a brutal finish to a fast paced fight that only lasted 41 seconds.

It really is a sad turn of events for a guy who fought for the UFC welterweight title only 5 years ago.  Since 2011 he’s gone 1-3-1 and two of those losses came less than a minute into the fights. Where does Jon Fitch go from here? Obviously there could be a rubber match with Burkman. But it is unlikely that fans will want to see that fight anytime soon. Fitch will probably get a matchup with a lesser known opponent.  Or, he could always retire; I wouldn’t be upset with that decision at all.  He had a good run, and there’s no shame in calling it quits. No matter what he decides, let’s hope he can pick himself up and dust off like the true warrior he is.

As for Josh Burkman, he has now won all three of his fights under the WSOF banner and five in a row overall. If he keeps winning he may find himself back in the UFC one day. But for right now Burkman should be happy with being the best 170lb fighter on the World Series of Fighting roster. It doesn’t hurt that he also avenged a loss that had probably haunted him for the last 5 years.

WSOF 3 took place Friday June 14th in Las Vegas, Nevada.  There were nine fights on the card and Jon Fitch vs. Josh Burkman served as the evening’s main event.  WSOF 4 is scheduled to take place August 10th, a light heavyweight bout between Tyrone Spong and Angel DeAnda will headline the event.  For more news on the World Series of Fighting continue checking back with Profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

Saturday, November 3rd kickboxer Tyrone Spong made his long awaited MMA debut at the World Series of Fighting 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 27-year old Spong won by knockout against Travis Bartlett in the night’s first main card fight. He looked very comfortable on his feet and was able to dictate the entire fight. As he continues to evolve his game I am sure the Blackzillians camp will be very helpful.

Spong has an extremely impressive professional kickboxing record with 68 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw. Some of those victories came against well-known fighters like Ray Sefo, Peter Aerts and Melvin Manhoef. In one his most popular fights Spong faced Allistair Overeem in the quarter final of the K-1 World Grand Prix. Spong lost the fight, but he gave Overeem a run for his money.

It was obvious Saturday night that Spong wanted nothing to do with ground fighting. It also worked out for him that his opponent was willing to stand in front of him and take huge shots. As the competition level becomes tougher Tyrone Spong will need to round out his overall MMA game. He is in the right place for that with the Blackzillians.

This guy is for real. He is a deadly striker and all of his strikes are thrown with awful intentions. If Spong becomes a true mixed martial artist and expands his skillsets he could be a dangerous opponent for anyone in the heavyweight or even light heavyweight divisions. It would be safe to say that he will be spoon fed a few more challengers before he faces a real test. I look forward to that test.

Until next time,
Brent Haugh
MMA Staff Writer