This Saturday night the World Series of Fighting makes their first venture into the great white north, when the promotion will crown its inaugural featherweight champion at the Pine Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia. The main event will feature the former Tachi Palace Fights featherweight champion Georgi Karakhanyan taking on Lance Palmer, the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance featherweight champion. Also fighting on the card is the 10-0 lightweight prospect, and congenital amputee, Nick Newell, who takes on promotional newcomer Sabah Fadai. A middleweight clash between Jesse Taylor and Elvis Mutapcic will determine who moves closer to being the first World Series of Fighting middleweight champion, and light heavyweights Khalib Starnes and Dwayne Lewis will square off the card’s opening bout.
Can Karakhanyan overcome Palmer’s wrestling, or will team Alpha Male’s dominant reign continue? Will Fadai hand Newell his first professional loss, or will the Fighting Arts Academy product notch an 11th win in a row? Here are my answers to those questions with my predictions for World Series of Fighting 7.
WSOF Featherweight title fight: Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Lance Palmer
These two are both looking to add another featherweight belt to their collection. Palmer is undefeated at 7-0 and Karakhanyan is on an eight-fight win streak, five of which have come by way of a first round finish. Palmer’s striking continues to improve each time we see him, not unlike the rest of his Team Alpha Male brethren under the tutelage of Dwayne Ludwig. His NCAA All-American wrestling credentials give him an advantage on the ground, but Karakhanyan is no slouch on the mat himself, as he is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and has 12 wins by submission. Karakhanyan was also a professional soccer player, playing for the Torpedo and Spartak clubs in Moscow. I think both of these guys are going to try to push the pace and keep the other one guessing throughout the fight. I think that Palmer will be focused on setting up takedowns here more so than in his last time out, probably by mixing up kicks with that powerful left of his, and will head back to Sacramento as the champ.
Prediction: Palmer by decision.
Here’s Karakhanyan’s last fight against Waylon Lowe:
Jesse Taylor vs Elvis Mutapcic
Here’s to hoping this fight actually takes place, as the original bout was scrapped at the last minute by the NJSACB after a commission official spotted Mutapcic or someone in his camp taking pills that the commission wasn’t made aware of. Taylor is the former Cage Warriors middleweight champion, and comes into this bout riding a six-fight winning streak. He’s been fighting an average of five fights per year since 2009, and has faced a bit stiffer competition than that of his opponent Mutapcic. Mutapcic does have a first round knock-out win over Ultimate Fighter Brasil winner Cezar Ferriera, and is on a five-fight win streak of his own, but Taylor has defeated names like Denis Kang, Tom Watson, Chris Camozzi, and Dylan Andrews, and has lost to guys like Hector Lombard, Thales Leites, and Luke Rockhold. I think that the former MFC 185-pound champion Mutapcic will have his hands full with Taylor’s wrestling, and Taylor will eventually be able to sink in a submission.
Prediction: Jesse Taylor by 2nd round submission.
Nick Newell vs Sabah Fadai.
I can’t exactly say that Sabah Fadai is marked step up in competition for Newell here. Fadai has won just one of his last three fights, against Cody Krahn, who himself has only won two of his last six. Fadai has seven wins, all of which came inside the distance. Nine of Newell’s 10 wins have come in the very first round. These two seem to be in similar spots in their careers, capable of finishing less talented opponents, as they’ve both proven. I understand that WSOF may not want to throw Newell to the wolves too early, but eventually he’s going to have to face a higher ranked fighter to really test himself. He may get that opportunity with a win over Fadai, as the fight to crown the first WSOF lightweight champion has been scheduled for next year. Either of these two men would be on a short list of title contenders with a win here, and I’ll pick Newell by 1st round submission.
Prediction: Nick Newell by 1st round submission.
Here’s Nick Newell’s win over Eric Reynolds for the XFC lightweight title:
Light Heavyweight Fight: Kalib Starnes vs Dwayne Lewis.
Both of these fighters are making their WSOF debuts on Saturday, and both men have gone 3-3 in their last six fights. Starnes however is riding a three-fight winning streak which followed a three-fight losing streak. Starnes has alternated weight classes, from 185 pounds to 205 pounds, and even has a win over UFC vet Tim Hague at heavyweight back in April. The Ultimate Fighter season 3 contestant has been in the cage with the likes of Patrick Cote, Hector Lombard, Alan Belcher, Nate Quarry, and Yushin Okami, but was finished by all but one of those men, Quarry, who defeated him by decision. Lewis has fought UFC vets Wilson Gouveia, Ryan Jimmo twice, and Bellator’s interim light heavyweight champion Emmanuel Newton, but like Starnes, has come up short against the more well-known fighters he’s faced. The fact remains that Starnes has faced tougher competition throughout his winding MMA career than his opponent, but neither of these two will be approaching the top of the light heavyweight division anytime soon. I’m going to go with the fighter we know more about, and pick the British Columbian over the Alberta native, by 2nd round TKO.
Prediction: Kalib Starnes by 2nd round TKO.