On Saturday, April 2, World Series of Fighting hosted its 30th event from the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
In the night’s main event, two-division titleholder David Branch looked to make the first defense of his middleweight belt as he takes on fellow UFC veteran Clifford Starks. Branch, who also holds light heavyweight gold, extended his current winning streak to seven with a first-round submission finish of Teddy Holder at WSOF 23 back in September. Starks, meanwhile, entered the title affair having won five straight, including three inside the WSOF cage.
The co-main event also featured a title on the line as veterans Jon Fitch and Joao Zeferino vied for the vacant welterweight strap. The belt was stripped from Brazilian Rousimar Palhares following his refusal to release a submission hold against challenger Jake Shields in August.
The action kicked off with a preliminary card stream live on Combat Press beginning at 8 p.m. ET, before transitioning to the NBC Sports Network at 11:30 p.m. ET for the four-fight main card.
In the main event, David Branch cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Clifford Starks, retaining his middleweight belt. Whether it was on the feet, in the clinch, or on the ground, Branch outclassed his opponent. Branch connected with multiple combinations, showing crisp boxing. That set up the takedowns, and allowed Branch to land them at will. While on the mat, Branch smothered Starks and landed strikes from on top.
Jon Fitch became the new WSOF welterweight champion in the co-main event of the night. For the entirety of the fight, it was vintage Fitch. He constantly moved forward looking for the takedown and if Zeferino stuffed one, Fitch would continue looking for one until he landed it. The majority of the rounds involved Fitch on top, out grinding Zeferino. The top game of Fitch limited Zeferinio from producing submission attempts. Zeferino briefly got a hold of Fitch’s leg looking for a late submission but it was quickly defended in the fifth round.
Strong leg kicks and timely takedowns helped Vinny Magalhaes earn a unanimous decision over Jake Heun. Heun did make it interesting closing out the third round. After escaping a kimura attempt, Heun acquired dominant position and ended the last 30 seconds landing down vicious elbows and punches to the body of Magalhaes.
Welterweight Abu Azaitar made his debut for WSOF and it’s evident the hype that was surrounding him needs to slow down a bit. He earned the victory, but a few flaws were noticeable in his game. He relied heavily on rushing forward, throwing looping hooks and wild haymakers that while they did land, left him open to counters that a higher caliber fighter would’ve taken advantage of. The fight was close, and you could make a strong argument Danny Davis Jr. should’ve walked away with the victory.