Takeaways from WSOF 19

 After a couple of dissapointing fights, WSOF 19, broadcast on NBCSN from Phoenix, AZ, did not dissapoint. The four-fight main card was action-packed throughout with none of the fights making it past the third round. 

This is particularly impressive considering Matt Hammill pulled out Saturday morning with an illness. All turned out well though as Clifford Starks was promoted to the main-card lineup to face Jake Heun and Heun’s original opponent, Teddy Holder, was promoted to face Thiago Silva in the light heavyweight tournament bout. 

Here’s the lasting takeaways from the action. All official results and times courtesy of


Clifford Starks def. Jake Heun via submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:11 of round 2: This was a bad fight from a technical standpoint. Poor angles on punches and a lack of combinations from both fighters. While it was a bad fight in general, it was a particularly bad fight from Heun. Starks, a very poor man’s Anthony Johnson, did nothing spectacular in taking Heun down but still had his way with him. Heun seemed to forget basic take-down defense such as sprawling and moving away. Starks isn’t a good fighter (at least not yet) and Heun got trounced. Heun might not be long for WSOF with future efforts like this. 

Timur Valiev def. Ed West via TKO (strikes) at 1:39 of round 1: A very impressive fight by Valiev. He was obviously the quicker, stronger, more agressive fighter against the veteran West. He showed off the skills that make him possibly the WSOF’s best prospect.

However, he also showed notable flaws in his game. In charging after West, he left his hands down and swung from the side of his arm, not straight-on. A successful counter-puncher, such as his likely next opponent, the Bantomweight chamion, Marlon Moraes, could easily pick Valiev apart. His game must be tightened up if he wants long-term success. 


David Branch joining the light-heavyweight tournament against Ronnie Marks: The middleweight champion, Branch, will move up 20 lbs to try to hold onto two weight-division belts simultaneously. It’s certainly within the realm of feasibility. Branch is very well-rounded and has a big frame for a middleweight. He’s probably favored against Marks.  It’s also a good move by the WSOF brass as their light-heavyweight depth is non-existant. 

Teddy Holder def. Thiago Silva via TKO (punches) at 2:00 of round 1: I’m kind of dissapointed Silva, a woman-beater, got any cheers during his walkout. But man, the WSOF found a star. Holder is likeable, affable, and packs a whallop. Best of all, he beat a woman-beater. 

Silva could and should have won the bout considering he rocked Holder. But he lacked the killer instinct to pounce like Holder did. This fight didn’t tell us much except Holder is a suprisingly good fighter. He adds quality depth to the organizaion with his win. Look for a rematch if/when Holder or Silva win the belt eventually. 

Justin Gaethje def. Luis Palomino via TKO (strikes) at 3:57 of round 3: The WSOF’s version of Griffin vs. Bonnor. Like Griffin and Bonnor, both deserve UFC contracts after the carnage.Right now, Gaethje and Palomino deserve to be first in line to get one.  

But they’re in the WSOF and they put together its most compelling, purely entertaining fight yet. The card was good from the previous fights but this fight made it great. Hopefully, enough people saw this card and this fight to make the World Series of Fighting the world-standard of MMA.

Gaethje is the real deal and Palomino fought valiantly. Both should get bonuses. And a rematch.

A horrible call by Bas Reutten and Kenny Rice: While the guys calling the fights got better during the card, they started off horribly. In the first round of the first right, I’m pretty sure Rice touched his microphone with his lips while  he was shouting into it. The result was unintelligent gibberish that was loud, muffled, and unpleasent. 

Of course, Reutten is such a nice guy that he made Kenny Rice look like Al Michaels by being even more horrible. Up until the later part of the 2nd fight, Reutten made a habit of talking fast and quietly into his microphone. Combined (and they were combined since they spent a good part of the first fight talking over each other), the members of the fighters’ teams shouting advice from the stancds were easier to understand than the announcers.

Rey Sefo and NBCSN have a good product but the audience won’t know that if the announcers are incoherent. While Reutten has his moments of brillance at the mike, Rice is, at best, only acceptable. Change needs to happen to one or both of the announcers. A good move would be to permanently replace Rice with Todd Harris at play-by-play.

Even if Sefo doesn’t change the product, a change in the appearance of the product would make the product seem better.

Side note: It was a good move to host the card in Gaethje’s home state of Arizona.The electricity in Comerica Stadium  was palpable before and during the title fight. It also made sense to have it there as Palomino is, by far, Gaethje’s toughest opponent to date. 

Side note 2: I went 1-1 in my predictions. Not horrible. Just not good. 

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Pressley Nietering

Pressley Nietering is an up-and-coming writer. He will attend Clemson University. Follow him on Twitter @Pressme


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