World Series of Fighting returns this weekend with their third installment on NBC Sports. Headlined by welterweights Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman, the card boasts a ton of talent and intriguing match-ups that make this card a must-watch.

Going up against UFC 161 could result in a win for World Series of Fighting, as the pay-per-view event has been bashed by many fans. If WSOF can deliver, they could pick up repeat business from the viewers they could possibly steal.

The fight card kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET with a live stream via the promotion’s website. A four-fight main card follows at 11 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Below is a preview and set of predictions for the event.

LW: Jacob Volkmann (15-4) vs. Lyle Beerbohm (21-2)

Fresh off his release from the UFC, Jacob Volkmann enters the WSOF cage looking to rejuvenate his career against a well-traveled lightweight in Lyle Beerbohm. Both men are submission grapplers, which adds an intriguing twist to this bout.

Volkmann is more of a wrestler that needs to use his top game to be successful. He is surprisingly strong and is like a lead apron when he is on top. His go-to move is the D’arce choke, which I am sure he will fish for if he drags Beerbohm to the ground.

However, Beerbohm is no picnic on the ground. He is a savvy grappler that likes to be on top, but can fight off his back. With a wrestler like Volkmann, he would be wise to stay off his back though.

Volkmann is too aggressive to be denied his takedown. He puts his nose to the grind and ensures that he puts Beerbohm on his back. He will not submit “Fancy Pants,” but will dominate from the top.

LW: Justin Gaethje (8-0) vs. Brian Cobb (20-7)

Lightweights clash in the exciting WSOF 155-pound division, as undefeated Justin Gaethje meets seasoned vet Brian Cobb. Both men are 1-0 in WSOF and looking to move toward eventual gold in the company.

Gaethje is well-rounded, athletic and strong. That combination makes him dangerous any time he steps in the cage. His win over “JZ” Cavalcante was eye opening, as he was an unknown underdog taking on a respected Brazilian vet.

Cobb is the Rodney Dangerfield of MMA, as he seemingly gets no respect despite his accomplishments. He is similarly well-rounded and can end the fight at any time.

I like Gaethje’s future, but Cobb is tough as nails. There will be good back-and-forth action. The judges will be called upon and Cobb will take a narrow decision.

WW: Steve Carl (19-3) vs. Tyson Steele (10-1)

In what will likely provide the winner the next fight for the Fitch-Burkman scrap, Canadian Tyson Steele meets Steve Carl in an under-the-radar welterweight bout. This has Fight of the Night implications, as both men come to entertain every time.

Both men are submission grapplers. In fact, the two combine for 21 career submission wins. At a glance, they are even on the ground, but I would give the slight advantage to Carl.

If this turns out to be a striking battle, Carl will have the advantage. Steele has power and will hurt you if he touches you, but he can get wild. If he does, Carl will counter accordingly and score points.

Steele has a bright future, but the experience of a seasoned veteran like Carl will be beneficial. Steele will drop a decision, but gain valuable experience from it.

WW: Jon Fitch (24-5-1) vs. Josh Burkman (25-9)

UFC veterans take their rematch to the cage, but this time it will be a World Series of Fighting cage. The winner of this fight will likely move on step closer to WSOF gold.

Burkman and Fitch are both wrestlers and use that skill in most of their fights. Normally, when you get to wrestlers as high caliber as these guys, it cancels out and the fight turns into a brawl on the feet. For some reason, that doesn’t seem like the scenario here.

Fitch is a higher level wrestler than Burkman and has consistently faced better opponents. He will be ready for a guy like Burkman, where as Burkman hasn’t fought anybody as good as Fitch in a while. That may be the big problem for Burkman.

This fight will go like the first go-around. Fitch will make it an ugly fight, put Burkman against the cage, take him down and hold him there for the duration. Fitch will earn the judge’s decision.

Preliminary Card

LW: John Gunderson (34-14-2) vs. Dan Lauzon (16-4)

In what promises to be an exciting fight, UFC vets John Gunderson and Dan Lauzon meet on the prelims. Both are submission fighters, but rounded in other assets of the game. Gunderson is a hot-or-cold fighter, so depending which Gunderson shows up could tell how this fight goes. My gut says that Lauzon will use boxing and solid takedowns to outpoint Gunderson.

FW: Jerrod Sanders (11-1) vs. Jeff Smith (10-1)

Late replacement Jeff Smith fills in for Chris Gruetzemacher when he takes on Jerrod Sanders at 145 pounds. Both are prospects with bright futures. Both men are submission fighters that will make this fight very interesting whether they are on the feet or on the mat. Sanders will have the power advantage, but I think his gas tank might be suspect. Smith takes a decision or late submission.

BW: Carson Beebe (13-2) vs. Joe Murphy (6-0)

Carson Beebe, the brother of former WEC champion Chase Beebe, makes his WSOF debut when he meets up-and-comer and undefeated prospect Joe Murphy. Both men like submissions, with Murphy having more of a jiu-jitsu style to Beebe’s wrestling base. Beebe’s experience and higher-level of competition will be an X-factor here, as he TKOs the young Murphy in two rounds.

MW: Krasimir Mladenov (9-0) vs. Kendrick Miree (5-0)

Middleweight prospects Krasimir Mladenov and Kendrick Miree will fight and one man will walk out of the cage with their first career loss. Miree is a submission grappler with some power in his hands, but is inexperienced. Mladenov is a wrestler with submission skills and toughness; he uses said wrestling en route to a submission stoppage.

Photo: Jon Fitch (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.