Gaethje, Fitch, Moraes defend titles at WSOF 34
The best talent World Series of Fighting has was on display at their biggest event to date with four of the promotion’s six champions defending their belts. WSOF 34 took place December 31st at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY December 31st with five fights webstreamed at WSOF.com, three broadcast on NBCSN, and three broadcast on NBC.
In the main event of the NBC broadcast portion Justin Gaethje had arguably the biggest challenge of his career as he pulled off a TKO by doctor stoppage over Luiz Firmino. Firmino started off well closing the distance and taking Gaethje to the mat while Gaethje seemed to take longer than usual to find his range and timing. After two close rounds that went to Firmino Gaethje started landing his feared leg kicks although with less power than normal. The real change in the fight however was Gaethje’s uppercuts which kept landing on Firmino when the Brazilian closed the distance to shoot. By the end of the third round Firmino’s right eye was swollen shut and his left eye was starting to close, as the fourth began an immediate doctor timeout was called which resulted in Firmino being ruled unfit to continue. Gaethje remains the champion with an undefeated record of 17-0 with this being technically the longest he has fought. This second loss in a row for Firmino leaves his record 19-8.
In the co-main event Jon Fitch made a successful first defense of the welterweight title with a unanimous decision over fellow UFC vet Jake Shields. Surprisingly for such seasoned athletes both had new tricks as Fitch successfully confused Shields by switching stances while Shields showed his progress in adding leg submissions to his arsenal. To the casual fan the fight may have been the most “boring” on the card but from a strategic perspective it was rather interesting as both fighters used a cautious positional advantage strategy balanced with a healthy dose of respectful defense. In the end they judges saw it 49-46 across the board for Fitch who retained the belt with a record of 29-7-1 while Shields dropped to 39-9-1. After the fight Fitch stated he may be retiring due to spinal issues clarifying he hasn’t decided yet, he has to talk to specialists in the medical community.
The most one-sided title fight was Marlon Moraes’ defeat of Josenaldo Silva in defense of the bantamweight title. Moraes was in control from the very beginning punishing Silva with a range of striking techniques. Around the two minute mark Silva tried to block a kick and took the blow on his knee causing an injury that wasn’t apparent right away. Silva managed to take Moraes to the ground but as the champion regained his feet Silva fell to his back in pain clutching his leg and the fight was waved off. Moraes’ fifth defense of the belt improved his record to 18-4-1 with twelve wins in a row, Silva fell to 25-5.
Also on the card David Branch defended the middleweight title against Louis Taylor, Andre Harrison remained undefeated after a rear-naked choke of Bruce Boyington, and in the post-broadcast swing bout Yushin Okami defeated Paul Bradley.
WSOF 34 results
- Tom Marcellino def. Matt Denning 3:30 R1 by guillotine choke
- Andre Harrison def. Bruce Boyington 1:54 R1 by rear-naked choke
- Bruno Santos def. Vagab Vagabov by split decision
- Shane Kruchten def. Jeremy Mahon by unanimous decision
- Smealinho Rama def. Jake Huen 3:30 R2 by TKO
- MW title: David Branch def. Louis Taylor 2:00 R5 by rear-naked choke
- Caio Alencar def. Jared Rosholt 1:17 R1 by KO
- BW title: Marlon Moraes def. Josenaldo Silva 2:30 R1 by TKO
- WW title: Jon Fitch def. Jake Shields by unanimous decision
- LW title: Justin Gaethje def. Luiz Firmino 5:00 R3 by TKO
- Yushin Okami def. Paul Bradley by split decision