The MMA world will be on hand as World Series of Fighting 15, live this Saturday from USF Sun Dome in Tampa. FL., features WSOF middleweight champion David Branch in the headliner against challenger Yushin Okami. The night’s co-main event pits undefeated WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje against “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard. Despite the status of Okami as a top contender, as well as Branch’s position as the middleweight champion, all eyes seem fixated on the Gaethje-Guillard collision, and for good reason.

Stripping away the WSOF lightweight title and looking at the main event by itself, it’s easy to see why this matchup on paper is viewed as a must-see fight. Gaethje has yet to be defeated in his career, Guillard has looked sharp since entering World Series of Fighting, and both battle with the type of “finish or get finished” mentality, something evidenced predominantly by their ability to battle tooth-and-nail on the feet and land precise shots to secure knockouts.

The battle is so good, in fact, that WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz sees this fight as one that can deliver as big as any main event, even while serving as the co-headliner to Branch vs. Okami.

“Melvin Guillard is an A level fighter. Justin Gaethje is an A level fighter. And I think this is the people’s main event,” Abdel-Aziz said while addressing the media on Thursday. “It’s not the main event, but this is my main event. I’m going to be standing and watching this fight.”

Even without the main-event spot, Gaethje and Guillard will give fans old and new a reason to pay attention to them when they lock horns, as the two maintain a history dating back to Guillard’s time at Grudge Training Center. The two showed a camaraderie that seemed close-knit, as is the norm with members of the Grudge squadron in Colorado, but when the cage door shuts on Saturday, there are no friends. Additionally, Guillard may be chasing a strap of gold come Saturday night, but just the same, Guillard himself has something Gaethje wants and will look to achieve in the sport, starting with a victory in the Sun Dome.

“Melvin’s got the resume that I want,” Gaethje said, “he’s at the top of my list of the best person that I’ve fought. I’m certainly looking to injure Melvin. I’m not trying to just beat Melvin, I’m going to knock him out. I’m not going to let him have this fight easy, no matter what, and he’s going to know that he’s in a different league. He’s definitely in a different league than me, and it’s nowhere near my level. He knows that.”

Never one to back down from any challenge or competitor, Guillard will come into this fight without any concern about the momentum behind the 15-0 champion’s record. After all, Guillard has been matched up against young lions like Gaethje in the past and prevailed, so in his eyes, there is no reason for him to think that Gaethje is any different, even if he did train with him in the past. Add in the title, and Guillard’s motivation only intensifies, as he realizes that regardless of how well-known Gaethje is, outside of the hardcore MMA fan base, he is still going against a premier lightweight.

“This is my chance to put a gold belt around my waist to solidify my legacy,” Guillard said. “I never looked at the World Series like they were less than the UFC. I feel the World Series organization, as far as the organization goes, is right up there with the UFC. As far as some of the fighters that are in the World Series, and I’m talking fighters – they’re trying to get where I’ve been. And don’t let none of them fool you and think for one second that they’re never gonna want to f***ing jump ship and go to the UFC because that’s what everybody does”.

A number of prospects in WSOF might have UFC dreams one day, as most fighters in the sport do, but right now, Gaethje’s concerns do not revolve around the prospect of fighting in the UFC’s 155-pound division. He has a job to do on Saturday night, and that is to defend his title against a hard-hitting contender and a dangerous lightweight, and if he executes his game plan to a T, as he has done in the past, he can expect to get handsomely compensated for it.

“Let’s go hard and let’s put on a show. When I think of MMA, I think of the money making aspect. I’ll be getting paid after I put [Melvin] to sleep.”

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.