Filing the void left by the UFC's absence on a Saturday night was the World Series of Fighting. The promotion, ran by Xtreme Couture coach and former K-1 star Ray Sefo, had its inaugural card last night.
The promotion figures to become one of the premiere promotions not under the Zuffa umbrella and looked to be well on its way to accomplishing that goal with how stacked their first event was. The main event featured former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski facing off against Strikeforce vet, Devin Cole.
Littered throughout the rest of the card were former UFC fighters like Miguel Angel Torres and Anthony Jackson along with one of the biggest stars in K-1, Tyrone Spong.
The first event was entertaining and had some memorable spots that WSOF will be able to build off when putting together its second card.
Tyson Steele was expected to walk into the cage and allow Gregor Gracie to use his family's jiu-jitsu game to perfection. Early on, that's how it looked like this fight would go down.
Gracie was able to secure the mount position and moved for an arm-triangle choke. Steele did a great job defending but soon found himself fending off an armbar attempt from Gracie. Once again Steele survived the submission attempt.
The escape seemed to give Steele great confidence as after the scramble; he landed a flurry of punches on his opponent. Gracie crumpled to the ground after a flying knee from Steele. The BJJ artist looked for one last desperate submission attempt, but Steele finished the upset by pounding out Gracie until the referee intervened.
Miguel Torres was looking to get back to his winning ways at WSOF 1. He had been cut from the UFC after a devastating KO loss to Michael McDonald and was expected to use his skills to take out Marlon Moraes.
Instead it was Moraes who used the opportunity of facing a big-name opponent like Torres to his advantage. Although the Brazilian slowed as the fight wore on, he was able to secure a knockdown late in the second round and continually stuffed Torres' takedown attempts.
The former WEC champion attempted to use his length but could never get his jab going over the course of 15 minutes. He continued to try to use his range as the minutes ticked by despite Moraes visibly slowing down.
The scorecard read a split decision, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Moraes landed the more significant strikes and takedowns in the fight.
As the fight wore on, it was sad to watch a guy who we are so used to seeing dominate his opponents fail to do much of anything against a lesser-known opponent.
Oh my goodness.
Those were thoughts after watching Tyrone Spong make his MMA debut against Travis Bartlett. This was a one-sided beatdown, with the only time Bartlett even came close to hitting Spong was when the two touched gloves in the opening seconds.
The fight was made for Spong to showcase his striking skills against another stand-up fighter in Bartlett, but Spong still found a way to impress MMA fans. Spong was able to launch his kicks with thunderous power and pinpoint accuracy at Bartlett and used some very pretty-looking combinations with his hands.
The end came when Spong dropped Bartlett with a straight right hand. It looked like Spong began his "walk off" even before Bartlett dropped to the canvas.
A vicious ending to a vicious beating.
That image would be how the fight between Anthony Johnson and DJ Linderman ended. Yet it didn't seem like this is how it would go down only moments beforehand.
"Rumble" was able to secure a takedown and began to work some knees to the body and thigh. Linderman was able to scramble up, but it appeared Johnson had been poked in the eye. "Rumble" walked over to the ref to ask about getting a break.
Instead, the fight continued, and Johnson threw a single punch to faceplant Linderman into the canvas. It was by far one of the strangest and most shocking knockouts I've ever seen.
Andrei Arlovski has been hearing fans call for his retirement for quite some time now. The former UFC champ had lost four straight bouts prior to winning his last couple, and it appeared Arlovski's chin had been failing him.
Perhaps it was a blessing then as Arlovski was facing Strikeforce vet Devin Cole, a wrestler. Cole tried to take advantage of Arlovski's chin woes and landed a right hand on the former champion. Instead of faltering, Arlovski was able to simply walk through the punch.
After the two men separated from a clinch, "The Pitbull" landed a huge strike that dropped Cole to the mat. A hammer fist and punch to the back of the head later, Arlovski was declared the victor.
This was a vintage Arlovski performance. He displayed his lightning-fast hands and great takedown defense and showed the crisp boxing technique that made him one of the best in the world at heavyweight.