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Former UFC star to feature on WSOF 23 prelims

Jim Edwards

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World Series of Fighting (WSOF.com) announced today a stacked, seven-bout preliminary card for its “WSOF 23: Gaethje vs. Palomino II” world championship doubleheader mega-event at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Ariz. on Friday, September 18.

The preliminary fight card, which will stream live on WSOF.com prior to the five-bout, live NBCSN telecast of the event’s main card, is highlighted by the promotional debut of battle-tested road warrior Isaac Vallie-Flagg, the quick return of streaking Clifford “Big Cat” Starks, the U.S. debut of undefeated finisher Vagab Vagbov and a total of nine of the Phoenix area’s top professional prospects.

“This is a phenomenal assembly of up-and-coming talent from Phoenix as well as established veterans and rising stars from elsewhere around the U.S. and other parts of the globe,” said World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo.

“When we brought World Series of Fighting to the city of Phoenix for the first time earlier this year,” continued Sefo, “we discovered a considerable pool of talent. We are excited to be able to put some of this talent back in action and to deploy several new faces that we feel have earned a shot to compete in the big leagues.”

Topping the preliminary bout card is a middleweight (185 pounds) matchup between Vagabov (19-0) of Dagestan, Russia and submission specialist Kelvin “The Mama’s Boy” Tiller (7-1) of Topeka, Kan.

Just six weeks after he shocked the world by pulling off an upset victory over Mike “MAK” Kyle in a matchup that he accepted on less than one week’s notice, Starks (12-2) of Tempe, Ariz. will re-enter the World Series of Fighting decagon cage and hunt for his fifth consecutive win when he faces another steep test in undefeated, former Bulgarian national wrestling champion Krasimir “The Wrestler” Mladenov (12-0), who is fighting out of Las Vegas.

Vallie-Flagg (15-7-1) of Santa Fe, N.M., a member of the famed Jackson-Winklejohn fight squad will make his debut under the World Series of Fighting banner in a lightweight (155 pounds) tilt against power puncher Estevan “El Terrible” Payan of Tempe.

Matthew “The Thunder From Down Under” Frincu (6-1) of Tempe via Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia will make his second start for World Series of Fighting, after scoring a devastating, second round (:14) KO on Eric Regan with a headkick at WSOF 19 on March 28.

Frincu, whose six career victories have all come by way of (T)KO or submission, will battle streaking Danny Davis, Jr. (11-8-1) of Las Vegas at welterweight (170 pounds). Davis Jr. is a winner of his last five straight fights, including three World Series of Fighting matchups.

In one of two bantamweight (135 pounds) preliminary card bouts, Tempe-based rivals Andres Ponce (1-0) and David Nuzzo (7-1) will go to war while, in the other, Randy Steinke (15-9-1) of Phoenix will face off with Joey “The Beast” Miolla (4-1) of Mesa, Ariz.

Leading off the preliminary fight card will be a lightweight scrap between Benny “El Hijo” Madrid (7-3) of Phoenix and Jeff Fletcher (11-10, 1 NC) of Ahwatukee, Ariz.

Priced from just $39.99, tickets for “WSOF 23: Gaethje vs. Palomino II” are on sale at the Comerica Theatre box office and online at WSOF.com and Ticketmaster.com.

In the main event of WSOF 23, undefeated, reigning World Series of Fighting Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (14-0) will collide for the second time with hard-hitting rival Luis “Baboon” Palomino (23-10), after the two engaged in an all-out war, which has already been touted as a “Fight of the Year” candidate, in the main event of WSOF 19 at Comerica Theatre.

In the co-main event and inaugural World Series of Fighting light heavyweight (205 pounds) championship bout, David Branch (16-3), the promotion’s reigning world middleweight (185 pounds) champion, will attempt to become the first two-division kingpin in World Series of Fighting history, when he faces off with Cinderella story Teddy Holder (9-1), whose nine career wins have all come by way (T)KO or submission.

The live NBCSN telecast of “WSOF 23: Gaethje vs. Palomino II” begins at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

Doors at Comerica Theatre will open at 3 p.m. MT and the first preliminary bout will begin at 3:45 p.m.

MAIN CARD

World Series of Fighting Lightweight Championship Main Event:
Justin Gaethje (Champion) vs. Luis Palomino (Challenger)

World Series of Fighting Light Heavyweight Championship Co-Main Event:
David Branch vs. Teddy Holder

Bantamweight: Timur Valiev vs. Tito Jones
Catchweight (160 pounds): Phoenix Jones vs. Roberto Yong
Lightweight: Brian Foster vs. LaRue Burley

PRELIMINARY CARD

Middleweight: Vagab Vagabov vs. Kelvin Tiller
Middleweight: Clifford Starks vs. Krasimir Mladenov
Lightweight: Estevan Payan vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Welterweight: Matthew Frincu vs. Danny Davis, Jr.
Bantamweight: Andres Ponce vs. David Nuzzo
Bantamweight: Randy Steinke vs. Joey Miolla
Lightweight: Benny Madrid vs. Jeff Fletcher

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Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.

 

The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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