The World Series of Fighting will host its third outing next Friday, June 14, in Las Vegas. Former UFC welterweight title contender Jon Fitch headlines the event against “The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman, while former Strikeforce lightweight Lyle Beerbohm does battle with former UFC lightweight Jacob Volkmann.

Fitch, Burkman, Volkmann, and Beerbohm joined WSOF president Ray Sefo on a special media call to promote the event. Fitch will makes his debut for WSOF after a UFC 156 loss to Demian Maia, and as he awaits a new challenge in a new promotion, fans of the former Purdue standout can expect a new and improved Fitch come fight night.

“I’m feeling very good,” Fitch said, speaking to the media. “I’m rejuvenated. I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders headed into this fight. I have the feeling to speak freely and I’m looking forward to holding that belt.”

Burkman last faced a wrestler at WSOF 2 when he defeated Aaron Simpson. In that fight, Burkman only enjoyed a slight reach advantage, but still found the first-round knockout. This time, Burkman will give up two inches of reach to Fitch, but more than that, Burkman expects more of a challenge out of his familiar foe.

“They have similarities in terms of being wrestlers,” Burkman said, “but I think Fitch transitioned his wrestling better to mixed martial arts and he utilizes his hands better. I think he’s the more dangerous of the two.”

None should find it surprising that Burkman knows of what Fitch can do with his wrestling and his hands. After all, the two fought each other at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 6 in April 2006. Fitch and Burkman remember that first fight very well, and while anything can happen on June 14, both feel they will bring something new to this rematch

“I remember being fired up for that fight,” Fitch said, “I had an interesting thing going on because I was supposed to be on The Ultimate Fighter and I was told at the airport that I wasn’t going to be on the show. Fighting someone that was on the reality show was an extra prize for me. I wanted to smash everyone that got an opportunity to be on that show.

“We’ve both changed loads since that first fight. You can’t look at that first fight. If he hasn’t changed since that fight, there’d be no reason to have our fight next week. I feel I’ve made greater gains since that time period.”

Burkman echoes Fitch’s sentiments about the rematch and sees a different mixed martial artist in Fitch than he did in the first fight. By his own admission, though, Burkman gave Fitch very little credit in their first fight. Having learned from the first fight, Burkman will ensure that he does not make the same mistake in the rematch.

“I remember that I’d come off two wins in a row at the time and going into that fight,” Burkman said. “Joe Silva told me I had a fight with Jon Fitch. I wasn’t familiar with the sport. I remember that the two victories I had, I overhyped myself and didn’t give Jon Fitch enough credit and gave myself too much credit. I learned to never underestimate anybody. Whether you know someone or not, that was a big mistake on my part. I believed my own hype and didn’t respect Jon Fitch.

“I think his game’s evolved. The main thing is he’s had so many high level fights and there’s no way to make up for that kind of experience. Just being a veteran and fighting those guys that he fought will make you better at what you do. All his skill sets have gotten better over time.”

While Fitch and Burkman both made notable improvements to their games over time, lightweight prospect Beerbohm flew under the radar. After losing to Pat Healy and Shinya Aoki in Strikeforce, Beerbohm now rides a six-fight win streak with five finishes. He looks to make it seven in a row against Volkmann, and given their respective styles, Beerbohm expects that both will deliver an exciting encounter.

“It makes sense. Jacob and I will be exciting. We’re both grapplers but we’ll want to be on top. We’re both scramblers and it’ll be one of the most fun fights on the card.”

Volkmann, who recently lost to Bobby Green at UFC 156, also fights for the first time since his most recent UFC appearance. Originally, Volkmann and Beerbohm planned on fighting before the NBC Sports Network-televised portion of the card. However, when a wrist injury forced Rolles Gracie out of a planned bout with Dave Huckaba, Volkmann and Beerbohm found themselves on the main card.

Then again, Volkmann prepares for every fight as though it will air on a main card, as does Beerbohm. Hence, it did not surprise Volkmann when his bout got the call to replace Huckaba-Gracie on the main card.

“I was preparing as if I was on the main card,” Volkmann said, “It will be no different for me.”

WSOF president Sefo made waves when he picked up Fitch, and despite only three events (as of next week’s card), questions already arise in regards to potential title belts. In fact, the promotion’s fourth and fifth cards already plan to host two respective bouts as part of a recently-announced four-man middleweight tournament.

If all goes the way Sefo envisions things going, the winner of Fitch vs. Burkman 2 could find themselves in line for the promotion’s first welterweight title. However, June 14 must come and go before the promotion can start talking about that particular world title.

“I didn’t wan to hold one or two events and throw the belts out there,” Sefo said, “we needed more depth in our organization and more fights. If we held titles in our second event, it didn’t feel right. Going back to our main event June 14th, it’s two great fighters Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman. One hundred percent, those guys are deserving of a title shot if they win.”

Guarantee that if the win comes in stellar fashion, Sefo will look to make that happen sooner than later. WSOF may have only just begun, but presently, they already appear on track towards making a number of monumental moves. They already aim to feature Tyson Griffin and Nick Newell at WSOF 4, and after a successful showing at WSOF 2 in March, the promotion will look to keep the momentum going in a true can’t-miss showing live on June 14.

Photo: WSOF president Ray Sefo (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.

  • Chris

    Their next few cards are already shaping up, it is incredible how quickly the WSOF is becoming a major player in MMA