Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown”: A Solid Double For The World Series of Fighting in its MMA Debut
By Joshua Molina
The much-anticipated World Series of Fighting debuted Saturday night, in a show that illustrated everything that’s great and terrible about the fastest growing sport in the world.
Live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the show was broadcast on the NBC Sports network, giving the event and company a big-time feel right out of the gate.
The World Series of Fighting, Bellator, Invicta FC (an all-women’s promotion), One FC and Glory are among the mixed martial arts companies looking to challenge the UFC for dominance on the promotional end of the sport.
Saturday night’s show kicked off with Travis Bartlett taking on Tyrone Spong, a successful kickboxer, making his MMA debut. This was the wrong fight to start the television broadcast. The UFC’s Roy Nelson has proved that you don’t need a million-dollar body to be a good fighter, but he’s clearly the exception.
Bartlett was the first fighter viewers saw inside the cage and he wasn’t an impressive sight.
Flabby and out of fighting shape, Bartlett didn’t look like he belonged or wanted to be in the cage. The bottom line: if a fighter can’t take himself seriously enough to get into fighting shape, how can viewers take him seriously enough to believe he’s a top-level athlete.
Spong destroyed Bartlett with kicks and punches, putting Bartlett and the rest of us out of our misery. It’s hard to know how good Spong will be from this performance. We will know more as he steps up in competition.
Miguel Torres battled Marlon Moraes in the night’s most competitive fight. The crowd booed for much of the first three rounds, and, at times, rightfully so. Torres appeared to be suffering from an extreme case of Tim Kennedy Syndrome; Torres was there, in great shape, looking like a fighter. Yet, never pulled the trigger, never dug deep, and never looked like really wanted to win.
The former WEC champion and UFC standout was cut after a few losses from the UFC, and he did little to rebuild her status as a top fighter. Moraes fought with a greater sense of urgency. He outboxed Torres and was quicker and more skilled when they want to the ground. Moraes easily avoided Torres’ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submission attempts. Ultimately, he was hungrier.
The scariest part of this fight (besides notorious referee Kim Winslow being the third person in the cage) was that one of the judges actually scored the fight for Torres, who won one round, the third, at most.
Former UFC fighter Anthony Johnson took on DJ Linderman, who was another guy on the show who looked like he started training two weeks before the fight. After a low blow that stopped Linderman in his tracks, Johnson TKO’d the outmatched fighter with a straight right hand right on the mouth.
Linderman hit the mat faster than Chuck Liddell after a Rashad Evans right hand, in a highlight reel knockout that will give NBC sports some good footage for the opening of its next show.
Finally, former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski knocked out Devin Cole end the show, in another first-round knockout. Arlovski looked impressive against Cole, another fighter along with Linderman and Bartlett who looked like they parked their semi-tractor trailers out front of Planet Hollywood and walked into the cage to fight.
Arlovski received the loudest pop of the night from the crowd and it will be interested to see where’s he’s headed from here. Could he make it back to the UFC, or is he happy fighting for top dollar for various promotions around the country?
On the whole the WSOF fighting made a successful debut, however the promotion needs to attract better athletes. Perhaps the show was set up with the hopes of seeing big knockouts, rather than boring Jake-and-Pray, mat wrestling all night.
Announcers Bas Rutten and Todd Harris carried the show well and weren’t desperately trying to promote the the WSOF fighting in its telecasts, like Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg do with the UFC.
Keeping with the World Series theme of the company, Saturday’s show was no a home run, but certainly not a strikeout. It was a solid double — a good start for the company. It did a lot of things right, and they have room to grow.
If the WSOF fighting can keep the costs under control, avoid overpaying its fighters, and steadily build its ratings, the company could become a great alternative to the UFC. Competition will make the UFC, and all other MMA competitors better.