Andrei Arlovski found the confines of the World Series of Fighting‘s decagon to be more than accommodating.
Displaying the fearsome power that once made him a UFC champion, Arlovski captured a technical knockout victory against Devin Cole in the headliner of the promotion’s inaugural event at the Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
A right hand to the temple sent Cole tumbling to the canvas, and a few hammerfists sealed the deal 2:37 into the first round of the heavyweight contest. “The Pit Bull” is unbeaten in his last four bouts, with a no-contest against Tim Sylvia at One FC 5 the lone blemish on his record during that time.
Arlovski held an obvious edge on the feet, as he began the fight landing crisp punches while staying out of range of Cole’s attacks. The International Fight League veteran attempted to make the bout ugly, unsuccessfully shooting for a single-leg takedown before pushing Arlovski into the fence and landing some short knees to the thigh.
Cole’s efforts were short-lived, however, as the Jackson’s MMA product broke free from the tie-up and dropped his adversary with what turned out to be the fight-ending right hand. Cole, who had won his previous two bouts while competing under the Strikeforce banner, hadn’t been stopped by strikes since a second-round TKO defeat to Rafael Cavalcante in 2007.
“Tonight I was the better man,” Arlovski said. “I wish [Cole] all the best in his future MMA career. It was nothing personal -- just business. It’s just a fight. I respect him a whole lot.”
‘Rumble’ Johnson Blasts Linderman
Johnson, who has won three straight fights at 205 pounds, recovered from an apparent eye poke to land the decisive blow. When referee Herb Dean offered “Rumble” no respite, Linderman rushed forward to capitalize. It turned out to be the wrong decision, as Johnson saw clearly enough to drop his foe with a powerful right hand.
It was exactly the type of message Johnson had hoped to send.
“He just kept talking about all this power and what he could do because he came down from heavyweight. I just showed him what a 170-pounder can do,” said Johnson, who spent the majority of his tenure in the UFC at welterweight.
After catching Linderman with a low kick to the cup just seconds into the fight, Johnson went to work, throwing punches and head kicks with murderous intent. He later buckled the Cage Warriors heavyweight king with a low kick and also worked some ground-and-pound along the fence after landing a takedown. With four straight wins since his UFC ouster, Johnson appears to be happy with where is career is headed.
“I’m just taking it easy, training. I’m sipping some coconuts on the beach waiting for my next fight,” said the Blackzilians member.
Moraes Holds Off Torres
Buoyed by superior speed, movement and a diverse standup arsenal, Moraes outstruck the former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight king for the majority of three rounds to capture a split verdict (30-27, 29-28, 28-29).
Moraes will now face recent WSOF signee Tyson Nam at a future event.
Moraes was the aggressor from the outset, catching a Torres kick and swarming with a flurry of punches. The XFC veteran landed whipping low kicks throughout the contest, and he wobbled Torres with a counter punch late in round two. Despite 23 submissions on his resume, Torres attempted just one takedown in the fight.
After struggling to land much in the way of significant offense in the opening 10 minutes, Torres began to find the range on his jab in the final frame. Moraes responded by executing the lone takedown of the fight with 45 seconds remaining. However, the Florida resident failed to do much with the position, as Torres continued to land offense from his back. It turned out to be too little, too late, however, as the promotion’s first prominent acquisition lost for the fifth time in eight outings.
Spong Batters Bartlett, Wins MMA Debut
In a bout where he did what he wanted when he wanted, the Surinamese-born Dutchman knocked out the overmatched Travis Bartlett with a devastating straight right at the 3:15 mark of round one. Although the Blackzilians member had no prior MMA experience, he owns a 68-6-1 record as a kickboxer, and his initial trip to the cage was highly anticipated.
“I’ve been fighting on the highest level for a long time, so I can deal with the pressure,” Spong (1-0) said. “A fight is a fight.”
Bartlett never had an answer for the striking of Spong, who floored his opponent with a head kick in the bout’s opening moments. Known for heavy hands of his own, Bartlett spent the majority of the fight with his back to the cage, giving Spong the green light to unload with kicks and punches to his legs, head and body. When the decisive strike landed, Spong backed away, as if anticipating a mandatory eight count. As it turned out, no follow-up was necessary.
Steele Knee Rocks Gracie
Gracie started quickly, taking Steele down and working for an arm-triangle choke. When that failed, the Renzo Gracie protégé transitioned to an armbar, but Steele was able to escape to his feet. It wasn’t much longer until the Alliance Martial Art System representative dropped his foe with a knee and then flurried for the finish, forcing referee Chris Tognoni to stop the bout with eight seconds remaining in the round.
Cobb Outduels Torres, Earns Split Verdict
Both fighters had their moments in the grappling-heavy battle. In round one, Torres dropped punches from back mount before closing the frame with an inverted triangle attempt. Cobb responded with a pair of guillotine tries in round two -- the second attempt tighter than the first -- but each time the Brazilian was able to escape.
The two lightweights battled tooth-and-nail for positioning in the final stanza, with Cobb likely sealing the win with a late takedown. The loss ended an 11-fight unbeaten streak for Torres, while Cobb has won five of his last six appearances.
Burkman Outpoints Harris
Burkman set the tone early, as he pressed Harris into the fence before picking him up and slamming him to the canvas. From there, Burkman landed several hard knees to the body of his opponent as Harris sat against the cage.
Burkman encountered some trouble in round two, when he found himself trapped in a guillotine choke for the better part of two minutes. However, “The People’s Warrior” made several gestures to indicate that he was fine, and he escaped the hold with about 40 seconds remaining in the frame.
“It wasn’t too close. It was tight -- have you guys seen Gerald Harris’ arms? Of course it’s gonna be tight,” Burkman said. “But I had space. I let the referee know I was good. I thought he was going to break it up and when he didn’t I started throwing some knees and trying to get out of there.”
Burkman had a strong finish, scoring a late takedown and mounting Harris in the final stanza to punctuate his victory.
‘JZ’ Cavalcante Taps O’Brien in 63 Seconds
O’Brien attempted to keep his Brazilian foe at bay with kicks, but it wasn’t long before “JZ” was able to successfully execute a double-leg takedown against the fencing. O’Brien attempted a triangle from his back before Cavalcante rolled for the leg lock. With his leg contorted at a nasty angle, the Iowan had no choice but to tap out. It was just the third win for Cavalcante in his last 10 outings.
Branch Wins Duel of Octagon Vets
Branch made liberal use of his jab throughout the contest, opening a deep cut above his opponent’s left eyebrow in the final frame and dislodging Jacoby’s mouthpiece on two other occasions. Jacoby mounted his best offense in round two, staggering Branch with a right hand early in the frame, but the Finney’s Hit Squad representative was never able to find a consistent rhythm.
“I did start to find my range. I was trying to stand up with him more than just take him to the ground,” said Branch.
Carl Subs Blackmon
The win marked Iowan’s fifth consecutive fight in which he finished his opponent by submission.