WSOF to feature stacked tripleheader for New Years Eve show in Madison Square Garden

World Series of Fighting announced Monday a plethora of breaking news!

The first bit of bold news announced was that of the cancellation of WSOF 34 and 35. Both shows were scheduled to take place on November 12th and December 3rd.  However the promotion suggested that their promotional muscle would be best utilized pushing what will likely be the organizations biggest show at the end of the year on New Years Eve inside the worlds most famous arena: Madison Square Garden.

The second bit of news came shortly after as the WSOF announced that the New Years Eve card would feature not one, not two, but three championship matches. Bantamweight champion will defend his title against a yet to be named opponent, Jon Fitch will defend his Welterweight title against Jake Shields, and Lightweight phenom Justin Gaethje will look to defend his championship for a record fifth time.

Marlon Moraes (17-4-1, 10-0 in WSOF) has defended his title twice this year against both Joseph Barajas and in a rematch against Josh Hill. Moraes finished both fights by knockout and has defended his title a total of four times. The 28 year old Brazilian star has won 10 straight under the promotion and has finished six of those bouts. WSOF has slated his opponent to be announced within the next two weeks.

Former UFC veterans clash as Jon Fitch (28-7-1, 4-2 in WSOF) will defend his newly won Welterweight gold against Jake Shields (31-8-1, 2-1 in WSOF). This match was originally slated to headline the November 12th event and will now serve as the co-main event of arguably the biggest event in promotional history. Fitch last defeated Joao Zeferino by unanimous decision at WSOF 30 this past April. Shields was Fitch’s original opponent for that event but was pulled from the card due to a contract dispute.

Justin Gaethje (16-0, 9-0 in WSOF), who in all likelihood is the World Series of Fighting’s greatest star, will headline this historic card opposite the challenger Joao Zeferino (21-8, 3-2 in WSOF). Zeferino earned his coveted opportunity after knocking out Jason High at WSOF 33 in the third round. Of Gaethje’s nine wins in the organization, only one has ever gone the distance with the rest ending by way of knockout.

WSOF 34 takes place on December 31st and will go down in Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

MMA Discussion Podcast – Episode 95 (Muhammad Ali, UFC 199, Ariel Helwani, Kimbo Slice)

Hosts John Franklin and Nick Peralta fond over the life and career of Boxing great Muhammad Ali, review UFC 199, discuss the Ariel Helwani controversy, and talk about the unfortunate and untimely passing of MMA icon Kimbo Slice

MMA Discussion Podcast – Episode 94 (Mayweather vs. McGregor, Nate Diaz, UFC Fight Night 88 Preview)

On the 94th episode of the MMA Discussion podcast, hosts John Franklin and Nick Peralta further discuss the growing saga that is Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, where Nate Diaz fits in to it all, preview UFC Fight Night 88 on Sunday, and discuss Venator Fighting Championship, Jason Mayhem Miller, the UFC’s future and much more!

MMA Outsider’s Men’s rankings update – May 17th, 2016


1. Stipe Miocic +5
2. Fabricio Werdum -1
3. Cain Velasquez -1
4. Alistair Overeem +1
5. Junior Dos Santos -1
6. Ben Rothwell
7. Andrei Arlovski
8. Mark Hunt
9. Travis Browne
10. Josh Barnett
Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones
2. Daniel Cormier
3. Anthony Johnson
4. Alexander Gustafsson
5. Ryan Bader
6. Glover Teixeira
7. Phil Davis
8. Rashad Evans
9. Ovince St. Preux
10. Liam McGeary


1. Luke Rockhold
2. Chris Weidman
3. Yoel Romero
4. Jacare Souza
5. Michael Bisping
6. Anderson Silva
7. Lyoto Machida
8. Vitor Belfort
9. Gegard Mousasi
10. David Branch


1. Robbie Lawler
2. Rory Macdonald
3. Stephen Thompson
4. Johny Hendricks
5. Demian Maia +2
6. Tyron Woodley -1
7. Carlos Condit -1
8. Neil Magny
9. Matt Brown
10. Ben Askren


1. Rafael dos Anjos
2. Donald Cerrone
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov
4. Tony Ferguson
5. Eddie Alvarez
6. Gilbert Melendez
7. Nate Diaz
8. Edson Barboza
9. Will Brooks
10. Anthony Pettis


1. Conor McGregor
2. Jose Aldo
3. Frankie Edgar
4. Chad Mendes
5. Max Holloway
6. Charles Oliveira
7. Cub Swanson
8. Ricardo Lamas
9. Daniel Straus
10. Jeremy Stephens


1. Dominick Cruz
2. TJ Dillashaw
3. Renan Barao
4. Urijah Faber
5. Aljamain Sterling
6. Thomas Almeida
7. Marlon Moraes
8. Raphael Assuncao
9. Michael McDonald
10. Bibiano Fernandes


1. Demetrious Johnson
2. Joseph Benavidez
3. John Dodson
4. Henry Cejudo
5. Jussier Formiga
6. Ian McCall
7. Kyoji Horiguchi
8. John Moraga
9. Louis Smolka
10. Wilson Reis

Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Hill II takes top billing at WSOF 32

WSOF 32 will now feature two championship bouts on the card.

The promotions Bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes will be looking to defend his title for the fourth time in a rematch against Josh Hill.

Moraes (16-4-1, 9-0 in WSOF) is coming off a spectacular title defense in his last fight at WSOF 28 where he defeated Joseph Barajas via Leg kick TKO in the opening round. Moraes has finished three of his last four fights, the only decision being against Josh Hill whom he defended his title for the first time.

Josh Hill (14-1, 2-1 in WSOF) has since won four straight since failing to capture the WSOF Bantamweight title, one of which came against the former-undefeated Bekbulat Magomedov at WSOF 26.

Moraes vs. Hill joins another championship rematch on the card as Alexandre Almeida faces Lance Palmer in a rematch for the WSOF Featherweight championship in the nights co-main event of the night. Also featured on the card will be Caros Fodor who takes on Phoenix Jones (AKA Ben Fodor) in a brother vs. brother match-up.

Featherweight title fight, Brother vs. Brother match-up added to WSOF 32

The World Series of Fighting will be making it’s debut in the state of Washington and will be bringing with them a long-standing and well-documented sibling rivalry between costumed crusader Phoenix Jones (6-1-1) aka Ben Fodor, and Caros “The Future” Fodor (10-5). The adopted brothers from Seattle face off against each other at a catchweight of 162 pounds.

Headlining the card will be a rematch for the WSOF Featherweight championship as Alexandre Almeida defends his new title for the first time against Lance Palmer in a rematch after winning the title in controversial fashion back in December at WSOF 26. Almeida won via judges decision, however the verdict was heavily contested by fans and media following the bout.

WSOF 32 takes place on July 30th at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Washington live on NBC Sports Network.

First tri-annual look at the MMA landscape in 2016

As we send off the month of April in 2016, we also pass on from the first third of the year. Four months in and much has happened that has shocked, awed or amazed us when looking back on 2016. So with that we take a peek back on the stats, stories, and highlights from this year that have come from MMA’s “Big Three” which of course mean the World Series of Fighting (WSOF), Bellator MMA, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). These promotions, above all, dominate the mixed martial arts landscapes and now we gather from them what hit or misses they have brought us this year.

Never tell them the odds: When looking at any MMA event in an attempt to consider if it is worth watching, you look at the top of the billing. The main event, and sometimes also the co-main event. Where we start here is a simple count on how the underdogs or the betting odd favorites have done this year across all three promotions in the co-main and the main event. In a noticeable trend that has stayed steady since the start of 2015, underdogs have recently taken a big charge at the odds-makers wallets and given many fans across the world more reason to put their money where their mouth is.

Favorites- 12
Underdog- 8
Even odds-2

Underdog- 4
Even odds-1

Favorites- 7
Even odds-2

UFC ‘Of the Night” winners: Since 2007, the UFC has implemented a hefty reward system that was once split into two groups being Knockout, and Submission of the night. In 2014, the UFC changed this to Performance of the Night in the event that there wasn’t a submission or knockout on the card. There has also been Fight of the Night which rewards the two men or women that truly leave it in all in the cage after the final bell has ended. Here are those recipients thus far this year.

Performance of the Night
-Stipe Miocic (KO over Andrei Arlovski)
-Michael McDonald (Submission over Masanori Kanehara)
-Ed Herman (TKO over Tim Boestch)
-Luke Sanders (Submission over Maximo Blanco)
-Anthony Johnson (KO over Ryan Bader)
-Ben Rothwell (Submission over Josh Barnett)
-Stephen Thompson (KO over Johny Hendricks)
-Diego Rivas (KO over Noad Lahat)
-Donald Cerrone (Submission over Alex Oliveira)
-Chris Camozzi (TKO over Joe Riggs)
-Scott Askham (Submission over Thibault Gouti)
-Teemu Packalen (KO over Chris Dempsey)
-Nate Diaz (Submission over Conor McGregor)
-Miesha Tate (Submission over Holly Holm)
-Mark Hunt (KO over Mark Hunt)
-Neil Magny (TKO over Hector Lombard)
-Derrick Lewis (KO over Gabriel Gonzaga)
-Alejandro Perez (Submission over Ian Entwistle)
-Mairbek Taisumov (TKO over Damir Hadzovic)
-Jared Cannonier (KO over Cyril Asker)
-Glover Teixeira (KO over Rashad Evans)
-Michael Chiesa (Submission over Beneil Dariush)
-Demetrious Johnson (TKO over Henry Cejudo)
-Yair Rodriguez (KO over Andre Fili)
Fight of the Night
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 195)
TJ Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC Fight Night 81)
Jimmie Rivera vs. Iuri Alcantara (UFC on Fox 18)
Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer (UFC Fight Night 82)
Lauren Murphy vs. Kelly Faszholz (UFC Fight Night 83)
Michael Bisping vs. Anderson Silva (UFC Fight Night 84)
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor (UFC 196)
Jake Matthews vs. Johnny Case (UFC Fight Night 85)
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Omari Akhmedov (UFC on Fox 19)
Danny Roberts vs. Dominique Steele (UFC 197)

Championship/Title changes: When a title changes hands, it signals something that we don’t see as often as we think in this sport; change. Whether a passing of a torch, the beginning of a rivalry, changing of the guard, or even the rise of a new legend. Here are the newly crowned champions of 2016 thus far.

(UFC Bantamweight Title, UFC Fight Night 91) Dominick Cruz def. TJ Dillashaw
(Vacant WSOF Welterweight Title, WSOF 30) Jon Fitch def. Joao Zeferino
(W. Bantamweight Title, UFC 196) Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm
(Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Title, UFC 197) Jon Jones def. Ovince Saint Preux

Most/ Least viewed events

-Most: UFC on Fox 19 (2.8 Million viewers)
-Least: UFC 197 preliminaries (835,000 viewers)

-Most: Bellator 149: Gracie vs. Shamrock (2.73 Million viewers)
-Least: Bellator 152: Pitbull vs. Souza (535,000 viewers)

-Most: WSOF 27 (261,000 viewers)
-Least: WSOF 30 (151,000 viewers)

Cancelled fights

Drew Dober vs. Erik Koch (UFC 195, Koch injury)
Stephen Thompson vs. Neil Magny (UFC 195, Neil rebooked)
Russell Doane vs. Michinori Tanaka (UFC 195, Doane injury)
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Kyle Noke (UFC 195, Gastelum injury)
Charles Rosa vs. Jimy Hettes (UFC Fight Night 81, Hettes injury)
Abdul-Karim Edilov vs. Francimar Barroso (UFC Fight Night 81, EDilov torn meniscus)
Rob Font vs. Patrick Williams (UFC Fight Night 81, Williams injury)
Beneil Dariush vs. Mairbek Taisumov (UFC Fight Night 81, Dariush injury)
Dennis Bermudez vs. Maximo Blanco (UFC Fight Night 81, Bermudez staph infection)
Chris Wade vs. Mairbek Taisumov (UFC Fight Night 81, Mairbek visa issues)
Charles Rosa vs. Augusto Mendes (UFC Fight Night 81, Mendes rib injury)
Mike Ricci vs. Caros Fodor (WSOF 27, Ricci injury)
Joaquim Silva vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (UFC on Fox 18, Silva injury)
Sage Northcutt vs. Andrew Holbrook (UFC on Fox 18, Holbrook injury)
Josh Koscheck vs. Matt Secor (Bellator 148, Koscheck injury)
Derek Anderson vs. Ryan Couture (Bellator 148, Anderson injury)
Nick Bustamante vs. Salvador Bacerra (Bellator 148, Unknown)
John Paul Elias vs. DeMarco Villalona (Bellator 148, Unknown)

Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez (UFC Fight Night 82, Cain back injury)
Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic (UFC Fight Night 82, Werdum foot injury)
Cody Garbrandt vs. John Lineker (UFC Fight Night 83, Lineker illness)
Sarah Moras vs.s Lauren Murphey (UFC Fight Night 83, Moras injury)
Trevor Smith vs. Leonardo Guimaraes (UFC Fight Night 83, Smith hand injury)
Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (UFC Fight Night 83, Rescheduled)
Sam Alvey vs. Daniel Sarafian (UFC Fight Night 83, Alvey broken jaw)
Bryan Barberena vs. Jonavin Webb (UFC Fight Night 83, Bryan rescheduled)
Donald Cerrone vs. Tim Means (UFC Fight Night 83, Means failed drug test)
Melvin Guillard vs. Mike Bronzoulis (Bellator 149, Bronzoulis injury)
Charlie Ontiveros vs. James Christopherson (Bellator 149, Unknown)
Jaimie Yager vs. Greg Parker (WSOF 28, Parker injury)
Marcos Galvao vs. Eduardo Dantas II (Bellator 150, Dantas injury)
Cheick Kongo vs. Augusto Sakai (Bellator 150, Sakai injury)
Gregory Babene vs. Trey Houston (Bellator 150, Unknown)
Daniel Gallemore vs. Frederick Brown (Bellator 150, Unknown)
James Witt vs. Jonathan Gary (Bellator 150, Witt misses weight)
Michael Bisping vs. Gegard Mousasi (UFC Fight Night 84, Bisping rescheduled)
Jimi Manuwa vs. Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 84, Manuwa injury)
Brad Pickett vs. Enrique Briones (UFC Fight Night 84, Briones injury)
Teemu Packalen vs. Lukasz Sajewski (UFC Fight Night 84, Sajewski injury)

Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Conor McGregor (UFC 196, dos Anjos broken foot)
Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson (UFC 196, Johnson withdraws)
Michael Page vs. Fernando Gonzalez (Bellator 151, Page withdraws)
Stephen Banaszak vs. Steven Peterson (Bellator 151, Unknown)
Magomed Bibulatov vs. Tyson Nam (WSOF 29, Nam injury)
Chris Morgan vs. Hector Lumba (WSOF 29, Lumba injury)
Adam Vigil vs. Andrew Hathaway (WSOF 29, Unknown)
Ross Pearson vs. Abel Trujillo (UFC Fight Night 85, Trujillo visa issues)
Alan Patrick vs. Chad Laprise (UFC Fight Night 85, Laprise rescheduled)
Justin Scoggins vs. Ben Nguyen (UFC Fight Night 85, Scoggins injury)

Jake Shields vs. Jon Fitch (WSOF 30, Shields contract dispute)
Steve Kozola vs. Gil Guardado (WSOF 30, Guardado injury)
Ruslan Magomedov vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC Fight Night 86, Magomedov injury)
Francis N’Gannou vs. Bojan Mihajlovic (UFC Fight Night 86, Bojan injury)
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Nicholas Dalby (UFC Fight Night 86, Fabinski injury)
Filip Kotarlic vs. Daniele Miceli (Bellator 152, Unknown)
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire vs. Brent Primus (Bellator 152, Fizzled bout)
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire vs. Derek Campos (Bellator 152, Campos injury)
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson (UFC on Fox 19, Ferguson injury)
Rashad Evans vs. Shogun Rua (UFC on Fox 19, Rua injury)
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson (UFC on Fox 19, Machida failed drug test)
Cezar Ferreira vs. Caio Magalhaes (UFC on Fox 19, Magalhaes ankle injury)
Drew Dober vs. Islam Makhachev (UFC on Fox 19, Makhachev failed drug test)
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire vs. John Teixeira (Bellator 153, Teixeira rib injury)
Andrey Koreshkov vs. Brennan Ward (Bellator 153, Ben Henderson signing)
Chris Foster vs. Felipe Levandoski (Bellator 153, Unknown)
Jay Bakanowski vs. TJ Hepburn (Bellator 153, TJ injury)
Pete Rogers vs. Mike Mangan (Bellator 153, Rogers withdraws)
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones (UFC 196, Cormier leg injury)
Jessica Aguilar vs. Juliana Lima (UFC 196, Aguilar torn ACL)

Fun Facts

Fastest knockout finish: Chris Camozi def. Joe Riggs (Round 1 – 0:26)
Fastest Submission finish: Teemu Packalén def. Thibault Gouti (Round 1 – 0:24)
Longest Finish: Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm (UFC 196, Round 5 – 3:30)
Total Decisions:
-UFC: 73
-Bellator: 28
-WSOF: 22
Number of Finishes:
-Knockouts: 43
-Submissions: 22
-Knockouts: 22
-Submissions: 17
-Knockouts: 18
-Submissions: 5
Largest odds based upset: Daniel Kelly (+325) def. Antonio Carlos Junior

Drug Test Offenses: Now before you get crazy looking at this list. Please note that most of these fighters have not been proven guilty. Even some of them have tested or been accused of taking substances that one could argue shouldn’t be banned. Most of these fighters await their hearings and possible punishments. Those that do are labled with an asterisk

*Felipi Oliveira- UFC on Fox 18 (USADA banned substance)
*Tim Means- UFC Fight Night 83 (SARMS)
*Islam Makhachev – UFC on Fox 19 (Meldonium)
*Lyoto Machida – UFC on Fox 19 (DHEA)
*Viscardi Andrade- UFC Fight Night 85 (USADA banned substance)
*Frank Mir- UFC Fight Night 85 (USADA banned substance)
Kimbo Slice- Bellator 148 (Nandrolone, Elevated (T/E) ratio)
Ken Shamrock- Bellator 148 (Nandrolone, Methadone, Elevated (T/E) ratio)


Photo Credit:

John “Doomsday” Howard to make his promotional debut at WSOF 31

After becoming one of the biggest Welterweight signings in recent memory for the WSOF, former UFC veteran John “Doomsday” Howard will be making his debut with the promotion at WSOF 31 in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Howard (23-12) will face off against Thiago Meller (20-7) in a Welterweight bout. Howard most recently was released from the UFC following a knockout defeat at the hands of Tim Means and Howard left the promotion with 3-4 record in his second stint and an overall record in the octagon with 7-7. This will be Howards first fight outside of the UFC since 2013. Howard is a known powerhouse striker and finisher with 17 of his 23 wins coming by way of knockout or submission. Howard has also competed at Middleweight competitively having faced the likes of Chris Woodall, Jason Louck, and TUF veteran Uriah Hall.

Meller will also be making his debut with the World Series of Fighting but is no stranger to stiff competition. The former Bellator veteran has faced the likes of Aaron Riley, Bubba Jenkins, and even former UFC Featherweight champion Jose Aldo as well as current UFC Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Meller is a notable submission ace with 11 of his 16 wins coming by way of submission.

Also added, to finalize the main card line-up according to a press release sent out by the promotion, will be Chris Barnett (14-2) taking on Justin Willis (4-1) at Heavyweight, as well as former WSOF Lightweight title contender Luis Palomino (24-12) dropping down a weight class to take on former Bantamweight title contender Sheymon Moraes who will be making the jump up a division.

WSOF 31 takes place in Mashantucket, Connecticut on June 17 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino. The main card will air on NBCSN following prelims that can be viewed streaming live on The full card as of now:

  • Blagoi Ivanov vs. Josh Copeland (WSOF Heavyweight Championship)
  • Jason High vs. Mike Ricci
  • John Howard vs. Thiago Meller
  • Sheymon Moraes vs. Luis Palomino
  • Chris Barnett vs. Justin Willis

David Branch to relinquish WSOF Light Heavyweight title after one or two title defenses

Winning a world title in this sport is a steep challenge for just about every fighter that competes in mixed martial arts. The overwhelmingly vast majority of fighters will go their whole career without capturing a major organizational championship. As much as with skill and talent, along with a little bit of opportunistic luck, David Branch has obtained two and holds them at the same time.

WSOF Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion David Branch defended his 185 lbs title this past Saturday at WSOF 30 against game Middleweight contender and former NCAA Division 1 wrestler Clifford Starks. Surprisingly, Branch would dominate the wrestling and grappling aspect of the fight across all five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory in the main event.

Branch spoke briefly about facing Starks and his thoughts on him as an opponent:

“He proved tougher than I thought he was going to be.” said Branch of Starks. “He’s one of those guys I call an ‘old Chevy’. He’s been around the sport for a long time. I wanted to just break him, with like dirty boxing, knees, and clinches and nullify his boxing and just break his will. But he stayed around longer than I thought (he would). I wanted to get him tired but he just kept coming back, he kept getting that second wind. I wanted to keep my finishing streak going and he broke that but I’ll be back. I’m hungry man. I’m hungry.”

Ever the changing wind, the obvious course of mind is wondering just what is next for the duel-champion as Branch has yet to receive a definitive answer on who he will face next or even in what division. That doesn’t deter him from understanding just how prestigious his placement in the MMA history books is when it comes to holding two belts.

“It means a lot to me. It’s only been Dan Henderson and myself that have done it so far. Conor McGregor is looking to do it and I wish him the best but right now I’m the guy who’s got it. I got double gold and that’s the way it is.”

Of course, with ‘it’ being the way that it is, one has to wonder the difficulty in facing men between divisions separated by a whopping 20 pounds. Branch was not ignorant towards the struggle in which facing such a versatile group of men can be. Even going so far as to make one drastically important decision known.

“It’s not tough at all (making weight),” said Branch. “I’m a professional, and if that means I have to go up a little bit, you know, I’m already a big Middleweight, but I don’t think Ill go up to 205 much longer. It’s not my natural weight. Those guys are huge. You got guys that weigh in at 205 and then will enter the cage at almost 240 pounds. That’s not the kind of guy I’m looking to fight a five-round fight with. That’s the reason they have weight classes. I did what I did already and I got maybe a title defense or two at 205 and then I’m going to relinquish that belt.

While no set contender has been announced for either of Branch’s divisions in the World Series of Fighting, one man may have been able to insight the argument that he should get the next crack at Branch and at 205 for his Light Heavyweight title. That man is Vinny Magalhaes, who defeated Jake Huen in the same night by unanimous decision victory. Magalhaes has won two straight in the WSOF and prior to Saturday night, submitted Matt “The Hammer” Hamill with a first round kneebar in his promotional debut at WSOF 24 last October. One Middleweight who has created some buzz is Louis Taylor who made a impactful debut at WSOF 29 last month in March after submitting Cory Devela with a guillotine choke in the opening minute of the first round.

No matter what is next for Branch, he doesn’t want to have to wait around too long for it.

“I’d like to fight two more times (this year), possibly three” said Branch of the remainder of 2016. “They’d probably put me on the saddle for two, but I’d like to fight two more times, for sure. I can do it. I’m injury free. I just came back from shoulder surgery and knee surgery. No injuries (from) this fight. I got one week off, and then I’m right back in the gym. I got a lot of stuff to work on.”

Result: David Branch defends WSOF Middleweight championship at WSOF 30

David Branch came and conquered Saturday night as he defended his WSOF Middleweight title for the first time against a game Clifford Starks

Despite early success on the feet from Starks, Branch would not be denied when it came down to all things grappling. Branch effectively attacked in the clinch, on the mat, and in the clinch. An early hiccup from Branch came in the second round when he landed an illegal knee that forced referee “Big” John McCarthy to deduct a point from the champion. Branch would not let that deter him from continuing his onslaught on the mat and landed several takedowns that would force Starks from any thoughts of offense across the remaining three rounds.

Starks is now a defending Middleweight champion. Question now is what may be next. Does he defend his 185 lb title again? Or does he move on up to defend his 205 lb belt for the first time?