WSOF30 Complete Recap and Results

By John Franklin, CombatPress.com

On Saturday, April 2, World Series of Fighting will host 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 will look to make the first defense of his light heavyweight belt as he takes on fellow UFC veteran Clifford Starks. Branch, who also holds middleweight 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, enters the title affair having won five straight, including three inside the WSOF cage.

The co-main event also features a title on the line as veterans Jon Fitch and Joao Zeferino vie 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 kicks 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.

MAIN CARD (Live on NBCSN at 11:30 PM ET)

– Middleweight Title Fight Main Event: Champion David Branch def. Clifford Starks via Unanimous Decision (49-44 x5)

David Branch is one of the most diverse fighters in the world. He has worked very hard to have a tool box that can win him a fight that takes place on a lot of different planes. A strong jiu-jitsu and striking game, Branch has transformed himself to a high level wrestler. On this night, it was a high level wrestler who stared across the Decagon at him, and it was high level wrestling that he would need to dictate the terms of his championship fight with Clifford Starks. That’s precisely what he did on this night, in retention of his middleweight title. Taking Starks down throughout, the champion had the former ASU standout zigging when he should have been zagging. The seemingly quicker, stronger man throughout, Branch had a fight with the lone hiccup being the illegal knee in the second. Branch channeled his inner Georges St. Pierre and was just better everywhere. A fight that didn’t have a lot of highlight reel moments, the thing that stands out in this one is again just Branch’s being cleaner everywhere. In victory, the champion credited the challengers durability as a reason for the lack of finish. Next for Branch is probably Vinny Magalhaes.

– Welterweight Title Fight Co-Main Event: Jon Fitch def. Joao Zeferino via Unanimous Decision (58-45 x3)

Well, we knew the words we would hear at the end of this fight would be “And New”, we just didn’t know who would be the man of the hour. It was Jon Fitch. Fitch implemented a game plan he has made famous and patented. He weathered an early storm from Zeferino on the feet to turn this fight into what most of his fights are, Fitch grinding guys out and swinging the hammer. To his credit, Zeferino looked to be well plugged in to defending the clinch and takedowns early. In the end, however, it was just too much. Fitch is like Seattle rain, he just keeps coming and you can only avoid it for so long. The end of the 2nd, until the finish of the fight, Fitch established where and how the fight was going to take place. He grinded Zeferino all the way to a clean sweep on the judges cards, 50-45 across the board. For Fitch, it seems like Jake Shields is next and they can have the fight we thought we were getting. Zeferino has some options since he is relevant and 55 and 70. Lastly, congrats to Jon Fitch a guy who has been at it a lot of years and finally has the gold around his waist.

– Light Heavyweight: Vinny Magalhaes def. Jake Heun via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

This fight gave so much more than was originally expected. A standup fight early on Huen kept his distance and ate Magalhaes leg kicks seeming willing to do so to keep the fight on the feet. Magalhaes seemed to be in control throughout, he had some moments on the ground and held his own on the feet. Heun had some sharp offense, including a question mark kick and spinning elbow, but it was Magalhaes output on the feet and one-sidedness on the ground that gave him the decision. The in-house controversy may have come from how strong Heun finished the fight, he reversed a Magalhaes kimura and proceeded to throw as many body shots as the clock and his body would allow. It may small consolation to Heun but he showed he can hang with a top guy in the world, wherever the fight goes. He was in real trouble on the floor against a guy who puts body parts on his wall like trophies and he kept himself off Magalhaes’ wall. He deserves props for that and Magalhaes deserves the next shot at Branch’s 205 lbs. Belt.

– Welterweight: Abu Azaitar def. Danny Davis Jr. via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Perhaps the best fight of the night so far, Danny Davis Jr. did what Danny Davis Jr. does… pushes young prospects so we can find out what we have in them. Davis took some damage in the first round and had his eye closed. At that point, it looked to be only a matter of time before Azaitar closed it completely and finished Davis. However, Davis should a lot of resolve, battled back in the second to take that round and finished strong in the third. However, it was Azaitar’s solid striking and gameness in the scrambles that were what the judges felt were the keys to his victories. The lesson to be learned here for Azaitar is perhaps urgency. There were times that Davis seemed ready to go and Azaitar couldn’t find the combination to put him away. Azaitar looked every bit the part of a highly touted prospect but this fight gives him some tape to watch on where he could have maybe found the finish. The cards were 29-28 across the board.


– Welterweight: Matt Frincu def. Abubakar Nurmagomedov via TKO (Strikes), Rd. 2, 3:05

This fight belonged to Nurmagomedov throughout. There was no belief at any point that Frincu was going to be able to grapple with the Russian. However, Nurmagomedov’s success on his feet was a bit of surprise. He had a sharp right hand in the first and that may have had Frincu believing they were going to stand. Once Frincu thought he was going to settle in for a stand-up fight, Nurmagomedov took his legs out and landed some big strikes from the top. The finish came when Nurmagomedov was able to find that top success. Earlier in the fight, Frincu was using Nurmagomedov’s attempt to pass as an opportunity to get up. However, in the second the Russian was just too much, found strikes through Frincu’s guard and ultimately the finish. This was an important win for Nurmagomedov who had gone to decision in his last two fight, but finishing a game opponent like Frincu shows he may be ready to fight top 5 guys in WSOF.

– Middleweight: Rex Harris def. Clinton Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

A fight with a lot of promise was a little flat. Williams was the stronger fighter throughout and he controlled the Decagon. Harris’ moments seemed spaced out but in the end the judges saw enough to give him the nod. Harris clearly won the third but the other rounds seemed to be Williams’. One thing that can be said is Williams fought a fight similar to Jeff Roman in the sense that he clearly controlled the cage but wasn’t overly dominant. That may have been what made the judges question his effectiveness. However with that being said, how a lack of his effectiveness equates to effectiveness on that part of Harris is unclear. It goes in the books as a unanimous decision for Harris, 29-28 (2) and a 30-27.

– Catchweight: Steve Kozola def. Matt Church via TKO (Strikes), Rd. 1, 1:57

From the outset the pace on this fight seemed to be hurried and it didn’t look to last long. It didn’t. Kozola looked to find distance early and by early, I mean real early. The first of many right hands that Church would eat on this night came at 3:35, the last at 1:57. Kozola showed how legit a prospect he is in finishing Church, the 7th finish of his professional career in just 7 fights. Kozola said after the fight that he wants to fight again as soon as possible and the WSOF should jump on that, they may really have something in this kid.

– Bantamweight: Adam Acquaviva def. Andres Ponce via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Rd. 1, 2:10

Well if there was some doubt in the first fight, there was none in the second. Acquaviva took a few shots and then took over the fight. He found Andres Ponce’ back and pulled with everything he had while Ponce was standing to choke the taller man out. Coming off of knee surgery, Acquaviva looked sharp and sets himself up after a quick night to get back in the Decagon again soon. Leading candidate for performance of the night.

– Welterweight: Zach Bunnell def. Jeff Roman via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

The night begins with couple of young welterweights in Jeff Roman and Zack Bunnell. The story early was the same as the story late in this one, Roman’s wrestling. However, Bunnell was sharper on the feet, and that would lead him to victory. He closed the gap in the second and even found some offense in the third. Roman’s wrestling, consistent throughout, wasn’t enough to convince two of the three judges. The fight went to a split and Bunnell, who may have had Roman hurt in the second, got the nod. The scores were 29-28, 28-29, 30-27. The decision was not a popular one with those in attendance at the Hard Rock but Roman did leave the contest open to scrutiny by not being as effective on the feet.

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