WSOF’s biggest event to date takes place on New Years Eve on NBC

Justin Gaethje on right

 What seems like a “make it or break it” card for World Series of Fighting takes place this weekend with four title fights, Justin Gaethje vs. Luiz Firmino for the lightweight title takes the main event.  Two WSOF shows earlier this year were cancelled to make this mega card which raised questions on if WSOF are on the verge of financial collapse.  On the other hand this event will be the first to air on NBC itself with prelims on NBC Sports Network, previous cards were “only” NBCSN.  WSOF 34 takes place December 31st at the Madison Square Garden in New York City with an undercard webstreamed at WSOF.com and broadcast on NBCSN, a main card broadcast on NBC.

Luiz Firmino

Undefeated Justin Gaethje has emerged the biggest star for WSOF and one of the most promising lightweights anywhere.  16-0 Gaethje won the inaugural title with a defeat of Richard Patishnock then defended against Nick Newell, Luis Palomino twice, and most recently Brian Foster while his win over UFC vet Melvin Guillard was a non-title fight.  19-6 Firmino is a fighter one either loves or hates as he is a great wrestler but is not known for excitement like watching a high-level chess player.  Firmino was on a six-fight win streak dating back four years when he lost to Brian Foster in his most recent fight, a triangle choke loss at WSOF 33 in October.

Jon Fitch

Co-main slot goes to Jon Fitch defending the welterweight title against fellow UFC vet Jakes Shields.  Fitch is making his first title defense since defeating Joao Zeferino for the then-vacant title in April.  Now 28-7-1 Fitch ahs only lost once in five fights or just over three years, a kneebar from then-champion Rousimar Palhares two years ago.  Fitch and Shields were scheduled to fight for the belt twice so far at WSOF 30 and 34 with Shields out due to a contract dispute the first time, the second being one of the cancelled shows.  Although Shields hasn’t fought MMA since losing to Palhares in August 2015 he has kept busy with superfights in grappling shows from Polaris to Submission Underground and Fight to Win.  Shields enters this bout 31-8-1 or in WSOF 2-1, his last fight in the Octagon being a unanimous decision loss to Hector Lombard.

Jake Shields

Rounding out the main card is Marlon Moraes defending the bantamweight belt against Josenaldo Silva.  17-4-1 Moraes is on a 12-fight win streak with a win over Josh Rettinghouse for the title and four title defenses, the most recent being a KO of Josh Hill at WSOF 32 in July.  Silva is much less experienced but undefeated at 5-0 with this being his WSOF debut.  Most recently Silva defeated Paulo Robinson in Mr. Cage 23 in August.

Prelims

  • HW: Jared Rosholt vs. Caio Alencar
  • FW: Shane Kruchten vs. Jeremy Mahon
  • WW: Yushin Okami vs. Paul Bradley
  • LHW: Smealinho Rama vs. Jake Huen
  • MW title: David Branch vs. Louis Taylor

Main Card

  • BW title: Marlon Moraes vs. Josenaldo Silva
  • WW title: Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shields
  • LW title: Justin Gaethje vs. Luiz Firmino