World Series of Fighting is set to return this weekend on Saturday, Sept. 14, with the fifth installment from the budding promotion. Live from Atlantic City, the card boasts a deep lineup that includes the semifinals of the middleweight tournament that will eventually crown the inaugural WSOF middleweight champion.

Andrei Arlovski will headline opposite of Mike Kyle in a heavyweight bout that was originally a light heavyweight contest between Kyle and Anthony Johnson. An injury to Johnson opened up this opportunity for Arlovski, who looks to get back to his winning ways against a fellow UFC and Strikeforce veteran.

Let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions for Saturday night.

HW: Andrei Arlovski (19-10) vs. Mike Kyle (20-9-1)

In the main feature, normal light heavyweight Mike Kyle steps up to heavyweight when he takes on former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski. Although this is on short notice for Arlovski, one has to believe he has an advantage due to his size.

Kyle initially retired from MMA following a submission loss to Gegard Mousasi at the final Strikeforce event, but that didn’t last long, as he took a fight for CFA in May against Travis Wiuff. He won that fight in 21 seconds, knocking Wiuff out with a blitz of punches. He has good boxing and powerful punches, and therefore will want to keep this fight standing. In fact, 65 percent of his wins have come via knockout.

Arlovski fell in his last outing against Anthony Johnson, who has steadily climbed up in weight from the 170-pound division to his new “normal” weight of 205 pounds. Despite the loss, Arlovski looked decent, especially in taking on a power striker like Johnson. His chin has come into question late in his career, but the fact that he was able to make it to a decision shows how successful he can be against a lesser man like Kyle. Since exiting Strikeforce and hooking up with Greg Jackson, Arlovski has looked revitalized in beating Mike Hayes, Devin Cole and Travis Fulton. He also had a win overturned against Tim Sylvia. Arlovski will probably have around 25 pounds on Kyle in this match-up.

Kyle has a puncher’s chance in this fight, especially against a man with a suspect chin like Arlovski. However, he is not nearly as technical as the Belarusian kickboxer. Look for Arlovski to stick and move in this fight. There will virtually be no chance of this bout going to the ground. Expect the former UFC champion to run a decision in his quest to return to the UFC.

MW Tournament Semifinal: Dave Branch (12-3) vs. Danillo Villefort (14-4)

In one of the two middleweight tournament bouts, UFC vets Dave Branch and Danillo Villefort go to war in the attempt to become the eventual 185- pound champion of the promotion. It will be an interesting match-up that could lead turn into a chess match.

Branch is a Renzo Gracie disciple that has used his ground game to win most of his fights. He is a powerful middleweight that is two-for-two in his WSOF career. He defeated Dustin Jacoby at the promotion’s inaugural show and then beat Paulo Filho at the second event, showing how much he deserved to be in this tournament. He will want to use a healthy dose of clinch work and top control to overwhelm and outwork Villefort.

Villefort failed to overly impress in his WSOF debut, edging out Kris McCray narrowly. The Blackzilian rep is a powerful fighter that is well-rounded. He is good on the ground, but he is likely the better striker of the two in this match-up. Other than beating McCray, he has notably defeated Matt Horwich, Joey Villasenor, Cassiano Castanho and Mike Massenzio.

This will be an incredibly close match-up. Branch will want to out-wrestle Villefort, whereas Villefort will want to keep this fight on the feet. In training with the Blackzilians, Villefort works with high-level wrestlers that have prepared him to stay off his back with Branch. He will outstrike Branch narrowly, earning a close decision to move on to the middleweight tourney finals.

MW Tournament Semifinal: Elvis Mutapcic (13-2) vs. Jesse Taylor (26-9)

In the other half of the middleweight tournament, striker Elvis Mutapcic takes on well-traveled wrestler and UFC vet Jesse Taylor. The winner will take on the winner of the Branch/Villefort bout with a golden prize up for grabs.

Mutapcic is a nasty striker with heavy punches and brutal leg kicks. For proof of that, look at his three-round dismantling of TUF veteran Joseph Henle, whom he finished with leg kicks in a brilliant performance. He does have more submission wins than knockouts, but his forte has been his ability to outwork opponents on the feet. Plus, he’s never been finished in his career. His five-fight winning streak has seen him defeat four UFC veterans in Sam Alvey, Jacen Flynn, Cezar Ferreira and Henle.

Taylor is almost the exact opposite of Mutapcic. He is a wrestler that grinds opponents until they gas, then finishes them with a submission or ground-and-pound. He will need to be wary of Mutapcic’s leg kicks, as they could take away from his takedowns or he could catch one that plants him on the mat. His biggest hole is his submission defense, with eight of his nine losses having come via tapout. He probably won’t need to worry about that when facing Mutapcic, however.

Mutapcic has good takedown defense, but Taylor is relentless in his pursuit of the takedown. He may be able to get Mutapcic down, but Mutapcic is more athletic and has more tools. Conventional money would be on “JT Money,” but Mutapcic has the power to rock Taylor. He’ll do so in this fight, but the win will come on points.

LHW: Rolles Gracie (8-1) vs. Derrick Mehmen (15-5)

Rolles Gracie, one of the three Gracies on this card, makes his 205-pound debut when he takes on American Top Team rep Derrick Mehmen. Gracie has spent his nine-fight career at heavyweight, so it will be interesting to see how he fares fighting down a division.

Gracie obviously is a jiu-jitsu fighter that has tapped all eight of the men he has defeated in MMA. The one thing that has haunted Gracie throughout his career is his cardio, which was exposed in his only UFC fight against Joey Beltran. He will likely be the bigger fighter of the two and possesses good takedowns for a guy without an amateur wrestling background. His weapon of choice on the ground is the arm-triangle choke, which he uses when operating on top of his opponent.

Mehmen needs desperately to stay off the ground with Gracie. Two of his five losses are by submission against the likes of Dave Branch and Mike Ciesnolevicz, who are not on the same level as Rolles on the ground. If Mehmen can gas Gracie out a bit, he has the ability to end the fight with his knockout power. In fact, 10 of his 15 wins come by knockout or TKO. This is a big step up in competition for him though.

When fresh, Gracie is a pitbull, especially on the ground. Mehmen is capable of winning this fight, but he needs to drag Gracie into the later rounds. It’s doubtful that he can last that long on the ground with Gracie, however. Instead, he will submit to the Brazilian in the first round.

FW: Georgi Karakhanyan (21-3-1) vs. Waylon Lowe (14-4)

Top-20 featherweight Georgi Karakhanyan looks to continue his dominant ways as of late when he takes on UFC and WSOF vet Waylon Lowe. It will be a great match-up that could push one man to the front of the line in the WSOF featherweight division.

Karakhanyan has not lost since early 2011 against Patricio Freire in Bellator, and currently finds himself in the midst of a seven-fight surge. In that time, the Armenian-American has taken out notables Isaac de Jesus, Micah Miller, Hiroyuki Takaya and Din Thomas. While he does have good power for a 145-pounder, his forte is on the ground, where he owns 11 submission victories. He will need to use his solid takedown defense in this bout, especially against a grinding wrestler in Lowe.

Lowe is a wrestler, but is very powerful when using his developing striking. This was evident in his WSOF debut, when he smoked Cameron Dollar with a one-punch knockout. He is undefeated since dropping to featherweight, using his size and strength to outmatch opponents. He would be smart to get Karakhanyan on his back, as Karakhanyan is probably the more technical striker here.

Karakhanyan has mixed results against wrestlers in his career, but has looked very good as of late. Lowe is relentless, but Karakhanyan is comfortable when counter-striking. He needs to stay out of Lowe’s wheelhouse, though, as all the wrestler needs is one punch to send opponents to a state of unconsciousness. Karakhanyan’s roll will continue as he takes a close decision from the UFC vet.

Preliminary Card

WW: Gregor Gracie (7-3) vs. Richard Patishnock (5-1)

Richard Patishnock looks to take out his second Gracie in World Series of Fighting when he takes on fellow welterweight Gregor Gracie. Patishnock, using cutting strikes and ground-and-pound to soften up his foe, beat Igor Gracie by doctor’s stoppage at WSOF 2 back in March. He will want to use his superior striking against Gregor, who will look to take Patishnock down and secure a submission. Gregor is coming off a WSOF loss to Tyson Steele via TKO, but Patishnock is not on the same level as the Canadian. Expect Gregor to close the distance, find a trip and outwork Patishnock on the ground, earning a tap in the first or second.

MW: Neiman Gracie (0-0) vs. Darren Costa (0-1)

Neiman Gracie will make his MMA debut on this card when he takes on Darren Costa at 185 pounds. Costa was defeated in his one professional fight when he was grounded and beat up by Jose Pinto. He will especially want to stay off the ground in this fight, considering that Neiman is a very high-level jiu-jitsu fighter that trains with Renzo Gracie in New York. Neiman’s gas tank is an unknown, but he can and will get this fight down, tapping Costa early-to-midway through the fight.

FW: Rick Glenn (13-2-1) vs. Artur Rofi (6-0)

Rick Glenn, one of MMA’s best featherweight prospects, makes his return to WSOF when he meets the undefeated Artur Rofi. Glenn is a Roufusport representative and is well-rounded. He has been knocking out everyone as of late. In his WSOF debut, Glenn put away Alexandre Pimentel, another highly touted prospect, with vicious punches. Rofi prefers the ground game, with five of his six wins having come via submission (two triangle chokes, two armbars and one arm-triangle choke). This is a big step up for Rofi, as Glenn has good takedown defense and is a skilled counter-striker. Glenn will continue his knockout streak, putting Rofi away in the second round.

LW: Ozzy Dugulubgov (4-1) vs. Andrew Osborne (7-5)

Ozzy Dugulubgov makes his WSOF return in the lightweight division when he takes on the more experienced Andrew Osborne. Both men are pretty well-rounded, yet not masters of any specific area. Dugulubgov showed great improvements in his latest win over Chris Wade, in which he used a balanced attack to keep his opponent off balance. Osborne has faltered when taking steps up in competition, which he is doing here against Dugulubgov. Dugulubogov should use takedowns and heavy ground-and-pound en route to a stoppage win.

BW: Jimmie Rivera (12-1) vs. Sidemar Honorio (8-3)

TUF and Bellator vet Jimmie Rivera makes his WSOF debut when he takes on Brazilian debutee Sidemar Honorio. Honorio has seen some success with his balanced attack style, but has faltered when taking on superior fighters like Aljamain Sterling and Sean Santella. He is taking on a guy with a skill set similar to those of Sterling and Santella in Jimmie Rivera, who has not shown many holes in his game to this point. Rivera’s superior wrestling, smothering top position and heavy ground-and-pound will completely overwhelm Honorio en route to a one-sided decision.

Photo: Andrei Arlovski walks away from a fallen opponent (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.