Posted 06/30/2014 by Jesse Scheckner in MMA in Florida

WSOF 11: Gaethje vs. Newell – A Complete Rundown of the Entire Main Card


WSOF 11: Gaethje vs. Newell
July 5, 2014 | Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL
NBC Main Card: 4 p.m./1 p.m. ET|PT Prelims: 2 p.m./11:00 a.m. ET|PT

Merely two weeks after putting on an event featuring three title fights (that resulted in two new champions – middleweight David Branch and featherweight Rick Glenn – and one retention, by #1-ranked women’s strawweight Jessica “Jag” Aguilar) and the World Series of Fighting is taking yet another step forward in effectively edging out Bellator in what was once an arguably neck and neck contest for mixed martial arts’ coveted number two spot.

This time there’ll only be one title match. Two undefeated lightweights – heavy-hitting counter-wrestler Justin Gaethje and perennial one-armed real-life Rocky story, submission ace Nick Newell – will face off with both their pristine records and the bejeweled WSOF golden strap on the line.

Below them on the card are several recognizable names. Jon Fitch, not-so-fresh off of an October split decision victory, will try to make it two in a row for the first time since 2010 when he faces ultimate journeyman Dennis Hallman (he of purple Speedo shame). Cody Bollinger, who won a controversial decision against Tyson Nam in his WSOF (and bantamweight) debut back in January, is set to take on Pablo Alfonso, a Miami-born fighter who shocked the world last year when he became only the second man to submit Miguel Angel Torres, effectively washing the former WEC champion out of the promotion. (Look for his interview with MMA Owl later this week.)

Melvin Guillard (who should seriously consider changing his nickname from “The Young Assassin” to something more befitting his 31 years) is making his first appearance with the promotion, lightweight wrecking ball Luis Palomino is back and two Gracies will also make appearances early in the day.

That’s right, the day. This event will take place while the sun is still high in the sky and there’s absolutely zero mystery as to why that is. Later that night, UFC 175: Weidman vs. Machida will be taking place, and rather than make futile self-injurious attempts at butting heads with the MMA monolith, the WSOF wisely circumvented the issue altogether by holding the event in a completely different time slot, meaning ardent fight fans can do the Saturday double dip two weeks in a row.


Main Event
Lightweight (155 lbs.) Title Fight – 5 Rounds
Justin Gaethje [11-0]
“Notorious” Nick Newell [11-0]

A lot of people have already counted Nick Newell out of this one, from fellow fighters and MMA journos to fans and… well… people who just look at the two men standing side by side, I suppose.

It’s not really difficult to see why, either. Newell, whose left arm ends just after the elbow as a result of a birth condition called congenital amputation, is largely a submission-focused fighter, striking his way into close quarters and using his wrestling to get the fight to the ground before securing chokes or joint locks to earn a tap out.

Gaethje, a Division 1 All-American wrestler at North Colorado, will likely have none of that, however. Of the two fighters, there is no dispute as to who holds the striking advantage, and although Newell may very well have the submission edge, he needs to get into a dominant position to put any of that to use.

But that’s why many of us have rooted for Newell to begin with – he’s a hell of an underdog and if by some brilliant turn of events he upsets what many are considering a sure thing it’ll be the talk of the MMA community for weeks, overshadowing almost anything that could take place in the UFC’s event later on.

Co-Main Event
Welterweight (170 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Jon Fitch [26-6-1]
Dennis “Superman” Hallman [53-14-2]

Although this co-main event has considerably less luster than the originally scheduled welterweight title tilt between Fitch and the newly-crowned WSOF welterweight champion, Rousimar “Paul Harris” Palhares, credit is due to Dennis Hallman for keeping the fight from being scrapped altogether.

Hallman is one of those odd outliers in the sport. He submitted Matt Hughes not once, but twice (and, in a very weird coincidence, submitted another dude named Mathias Hughes), but lost to Frank Trigg (whom Hughes himself doubly toppled) twice himself. He’s a finishing machine (only eight of his 53 victories weren’t finishes), whose opponents, in his losses, ran up a combined 302-141 record with only one of them, Mike McClure, sporting a losing record (at 2-3).

Suffice it to say, he’s no walk in the park for anyone, and going into this bout at 38 years old riding a three-fight winning streak, it looks like he still has some fire left in him.

Jon Fitch, whose fans were agape when he was suddenly released from the UFC early last year, finally recorded his first win outside the promotion back in October, however he appeared nowhere near as solid a combatant as he once was. No spring chicken himself at 36, his and Hallman’s styles will make for a very interesting, if not necessarily action packed bout.

Then again, with both fighters finding themselves most comfortable in close quarters, we may see their tier-1 skill sets cancel out and find ourselves watching an unexpected standup match.

I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for that, however.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Cody “Cali Cowboy/Bam Bam” Bollinger [15-2]
Pablo “The Hurricane” Alfonso [9-5]

Let’s just say that Cody Bollinger, a second generation mixed martial artist, didn’t look as brilliant in the Decagon as many had expected he’d be when he last fought. In fact, I had the fight going to Tyson Nam and said as much on Twitter (Cody, ever the enduring gentleman, “favorited” the tweet in good humor).

His response to the peanut gallery:

Well… I guess he has a point.

Will he finally shut the naysayers up this Saturday?

Pablo Alfonso will likely want to have a say in whether or not he does. He’s coming off of a hell of a submission victory against Miguel Torres, and is going into this fight with three wins behind him – all of them finishes. Considering he was about to call it quits back in 2011 after a 0-3 run before reversing that course, let’s hope for him that he’s still doing whatever it was he did to right his ship when he returned to the sport in 2012.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante [18-7-1]
Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard [31-13-2]

For the first time in almost nine years, Melvin Guillard will be wearing gloves that don’t say “UFC” on them when he enters the cage on Saturday. Cut after losing five of his last eight fights with the promotion (or six of eight, if you count the no contest resulting from him kneeing Ross Pearson illegally late last year), his recent run of misfortune suggests that, after 46 fights over almost 12 years, he might be on the decline.

Kudos to Ali Abdel-Aziz for finding him a suitable opponent in JZ Cavalcante, a similarly tenured (though not nearly as battle-worn) fighter whose recent win/loss alternation looks just as checkered as his adversary’s.

Guillard holds the striking advantage. Cavalcante, conversely, holds superiority in the submission department, however if you think all he wants to do is strike, maybe you want give his last opponent, Tyson Griffin, a call.

As far as fights to set the tone for a national broadcast are concerned, the WSOF could do considerably worse. This one should be a lot of fun.


Welterweight (170 lbs.) Fight – 3 Rounds
Luis “Baboon” Palomino [22-9]
T.J. “The Spider” O’Brien [20-7]


Fight – 3 Rounds
Alexandre “Pugla” Pimentel [13-1]
Jerrod Sanders [14-1]


Fight – 3 Rounds
Gregor Gracie [7-4]
Maurice Salmon [3-2]


Fight – 3 Rounds
Kendrick “Big Problem” Miree [5-1]
Jake “The Honey Bear” Heun [5-3]


Fight – 3 Rounds
Neiman Gracie [1-0]
Dustin Holyko [2-0]

Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well committed to nonfiction storytelling. He is the 2014 Florida MMA Awards "Best MMA Media Correspondent" winner and a two-time Miami New Times "Best Of" winner. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.