On Saturday, July 5, World Series of Fighting made its NBC debut with its 11th event from the Ocean Center in Daytona, Fla.

In the night’s top-billing, the promotion’s lightweight title was on the line as champion Justin Gaethje faced off with fellow unbeaten Nick Newell. Gaethje captured the belt at WSOF 8 in January with a first-round destruction of Richard Patishnock. The win marked Gaethje’s ninth stoppage via strikes in his 11-fight career. Newell, meanwhile, ran his record to 11-0 in December with a first-round submission win over Sabah Fadai. The victory was Newell’s eighth via tapout.

The co-main event of the evening showcased former UFC title challenger Jon Fitch against crafty submission ace Dennis Hallman. Fitch earned his first win inside the WSOF cage in December, edging Marcelo Alfaya by split decision. The 38-year-old Hallman made his promotional debut riding a three-fight winning streak that dated back to 2011.

In all, the event featured eight fights. The four-fight preliminary card streamed live on NBCSports.com beginning at 2 p.m. ET, while the four-fight main card aired live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Main Card Summary

Justin Gaethje once again proved he is one of the best prospects at 155 pounds by absolutely battering Nick Newell en route to a second-round TKO. Gaethje came out early with leg kicks that changed the color of Newell’s right leg almost immediately. Through the first half of the first round it was a very competitive stand-up battle with both fighters landing their fair share of shots. About halfway through the round Gaethje began to take over. Newell looked tired and Gaethje opened up a cut near Newell’s hairline. In the second Gaethje moved to the body shots that were very audible in the arena. Newell was clearly hurt by those and Gaethje went to the head. The fight was paused to check the cut, but the doctor let the fight continue. Soon after though, Gaethje nailed Newell with a huge right hand. Newell crashed to the mat and the fight was over.

Jon Fitch turned out a traditional Jon Fitch performance with a grind-it-out decision victory over Dennis Hallman. Fitch did his traditional take the fight to the mat  and land strikes, but Fitch mixed in some solid stand-up as well. He nailed Hallman with some stiff straight punches that made it much easier to get the fight to the ground. Fitch came close to finishing the fight with those strikes in the second and third rounds, but he never turned it on quite enough to get the stoppage. Fitch did find himself in a few precarious positions and got some practice on his leg-lock defense, which he will likely have to use against champion Rousimar Palhares in the near future.

Cody Bollinger got his second win in as many WSOF bouts with a quick submission over Pablo Alfonso. Bollinger landed a solid left hook in the middle of an exchange and then took the fight down to the mat with an excellent judo throw. Alfonso began to look for submissions once he was down, but Bollinger defended solidly. Bollinger looked for a guillotine choke first. Alfonso escaped, but then Bollinger was able to take Alfonso’s back. Bollinger snuck an arm under the neck for the fight ending rear-naked choke.

Melvin Guillard provided the fireworks on Independence Day weekend with an impressive second-round stoppage over Gesias Calvalcante. Guillard came out aggressive from the opening bell and dropped Cavalcante with a straight left hand. Guillard stayed patient throughout the round and just peppered Guillard with strikes. The end of the round saw both men flurry in a mini slugfest. Guillard was taken down early in the second, but he wall walked and got back to the feet. It wasn’t long after that that the fight ending flurry took place. It started with a knee, then Guillard landed some unanswered punches against the cage and the referee stopped the bout.

Preliminary Card Summary

WSOF got things started in the afternoon in Daytona with a preliminary card mixed  with up and coming stars and local fighters.

Jake Heun topped Blackzilians product, Kendrick Miree. Heun was the better man throughout, taking down Miree and landing the more effective strikes on the feet.

Neiman Gracie stayed undefeated after surviving being knocked down by local product, Dustin Holyko. The Ocean Center nearly exploded, but Gracie ended up coming back and using his signature jiu-jitsu to secure a rear-naked choke in the second round.

Jose Caceres scored a big victory on the same day that his brother, Alex, has the biggest fight of his career. Caceres, who said post-fight that he was out there to entertain the fans, certainly did so. He nearly scored a finish with ground-and-pound in the second round, but Walber Brito de Barros survived and made a big comeback in the third. Caceres’ nose was bloodied at the end of the fight, but his hand was raised.

Muhammed Dereese got his second professional victory close to home by grinding out a decision over Rashaun Spencer.  Spencer had his moments on the feet, but Dereese’s wrestling was the difference in the unanimous decision.

Justin Gaethje def. Nick Newell by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 3:09 – for lightweight title
Jon Fitch def. Dennis Hallman by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Melvin Guillard def. Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 2:36
Cody Bollinger def. Pablo Alfonso by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:37
Jake Heun def. Kendrick Miree by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Neiman Gracie def. Dustin Holyko by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:21
Jose Caceres def. Walber Brito de Barros by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Muhammed DeReese def. Rashaun Spencer by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.