On Saturday, Nov. 15, World Series of Fighting held its 15th event from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.
In the evening’s headliner, surging middleweight David Branch put his championship on the line against longtime UFC stalwart Yushin Okami. Branch defeated two opponents in the course of the WSOF middleweight tournament to capture his crown, but his first defense of the strap stood as a much tougher test. Okami, meanwhile, looked to capture the one thing that eluded him for so long in the UFC, a championship belt.
In the co-main event slot, Justin Gaethje was set to defend his lightweight title against challenger Melvin Guillard, but Guillard missed weight and the bout was switched to a non-title affair. Guillard, a longtime UFC veteran, had struggled to find consistency in his MMA career.
However, the WSOF stuck to the mantra of ladies first as one of the best female fighters in the world took the cage in an effort to defend her strawweight title. Champion Jessica Aguilar had been on a roll since a 2010 loss to Zoila Frausto. Her latest challenge came from Brazilian prospect Kalindra Faria, who left the XFC in the rearview mirror as she traveled to the United States for the first time in her career.
The four-fight main card, which also included a three-round lightweight bout between Jorge Patino and Eric Reynolds, aired live on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m. ET. The seven-fight preliminary card kicked off at 6:30 p.m. ET and aired live on nbcsports.com.
Yushin Okami’s search for gold continues to yield disappointing results for the former UFC contender. WSOF middleweight champion David Branch rocked Okami early in the first round, but Okami recovered and eventually took Branch to the ground. Branch was able to escape back to his feet to close out the opening round. It was all stand-up in the second stanza. Branch connected on several occasions and was able to muscle Okami against the cage in the clinch, but it remained a close round of action where neither man did significant damage. Branch continued to maintain the upper hand in the stand-up and clinch throughout the third frame. The defending champion mixed it up more in the fourth round, adding level changes and attacking the body of his opponent. Branch started connecting with more frequency before finally scoring a flash knockdown. Branch followed Okami to the mat and delivered a series of strikes that forced the referee to stop the fight. Branch retained the belt with the fourth-round TKO finish.
UFC veteran Melvin Guillard failed to hit the mark on the scales for his fight with Justin Gaethje, and he didn’t find much more success inside the cage. The two lightweights engaged in a striking war throughout their three-round affair. Guillard found a home for his left hand early in the fight, but Gaethje’s low kicks were the most effective strikes of the contest. Gaethje chopped away at Guillard’s left leg, especially in the second and third stanzas, while also consistently backing the UFC veteran up against the cage. Although the outcome seemed to be a given in favor of the WSOF lightweight champion, one judge scored the contest in favor of Guillard to leave Gaethje with the split decision victory.
WSOF women’s strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar added to her reputation as the world’s top 115-pound female fighter with a grinding victory over Kalindra Faria. The American Top Team fighter overcame the length of Faria to edge the Brazilian on the feet throughout their contest. Aguilar came closest to earning a finish in the fourth round when she took down Faria and rained down a barrage of ground-and-pound strikes. Faria came out with a greater sense of urgency in the final round, but she couldn’t get anything going. Aguilar secured the nod on all three scorecards.
Lightweight Eric Reynolds put up a valiant effort against Jorge Patino, but Patino’s takedowns and grappling skills were too much for the XFC veteran. Reynolds was determined to not let Patino control him on the mat. Reynolds scrambled out of bad positions in the first round and remained aggressive on the feet. He was bloodied in the second stanza, but managed to reverse Patino on the ground and take top control for a short time. Patino, however, did get the better of Reynolds through much of the second frame. After standing and trading for the first half of round three, Patino once again took Reynolds to the canvas and quickly slid to mount, where he controlled Reynolds for much of the remainder of the fight. Patino’s work on the mat was enough to secure the decision victory for the Brazilian fighter.