So, another weekend, and World Series of Fighting 5 is in the books.
It was a pretty good night of fights, likely best remembered for two old warriors putting on a perfectly nice main event.
I’ve caught most of them, and never regretted watching a WSOF show. (There have been a few MMA shows I’ve regretted watching. The Strikeforce debacle a few years back where Bob Sapp was in the main event? I was there live. Ugly show.) This was the same night as the biggest boxing match of the year.
But, to be blunt, it wasn’t great.
Watching WSOF, I don’t feel like I’m seeing anything unique. Like the overlooked women MMA fighters on an Invicta show… or a startling influx of Russian talent, or a puzzle no one seems to solve like Ben Askren in Bellator…
But, good fighters aplenty in solid MMA action.
1) Sure Mike Kyle and Andrei Arlovski aren’t the young guns they were when they scored memorable finishes at UFC 51. But they banged out a perfectly nice heavyweight main event. Kyle appeared to be out-landed throughout the bout, as Arlovski’s right hand landed all night. Still, since Kyle scored two flash knockdowns, the judges’ decision was tough to predict. There’s no tradition on how to score a knockdown that doesn’t lead to a finish. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. I have no problem with the decision.
2) Among the preliminary bouts, Nieman Gracie scored a beautiful arm bar victory in his MMA debut. The young gun began advancing from half guard to mount as his opponent, Darren Costa, began a bridge escape. Gracie entangled the arm, gracefully rolled through, and cinched a highlight reel arm bar finish. Now that’s an MMA debut. Too bad it was among the preliminary bouts. Oh, wait, it made air. Because…
My not-so-high lights:
1) The bizarre sudden cancellation of the Elvis Mutapcic vs. Jesse Taylor bout. Mutapcic claims complete innocence. For its part, the New Jersey State Athletic Commission has released a statement, reminding that “fighters are responsible for what their corners bring to the backstage area. The agency recovered materials that are not permissible to be in the corner.” What’s there to say? I guess it’s a tough lesson to learn.
2) It was a perfectly nice fight ending in a memorable KO, sure… but I just felt bad for Rolles Gracie. The guy shows obvious improvement in his stand up, dominating the first round of his bout with Derrick Mehmen. Jabs came aplenty, the occasional kick found its mark, and footwork was on point too. But Mehmen got closer and closer with his inside punching. Then, in the second round, Gracie stepped straight backwards as Mehmen rushed in with a combination, and a overhand right cracked on through. Gracie turned as if in a drunken stupor before falling face-first on the canvas. Fans will remember the “Ric Flair” flop, and forget the improved skills. Sad.
The fights were overall good as usual. But, WSOF’s rating have been weak overall. NBC Sports just doesn’t seem to be pushing the show, which is sad.
It’s a perfectly nice product. It’s clear they’re still finding an identity though — and with that, I’m hopeful World Series of Fighting can find more of an audience.