This Saturday night, The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino and Resort will play host to Ray Sefo’s World Series of Fighting 17 event. The card, headlined by a welterweight clash of former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields and former UFC veteran Brian Foster, features a variety of largely unheralded talent that are ready and willing to win at all costs.

The co-main event sees Brian Cobb face undefeated Johnny Nunez in a lightweight battle. Cobb, a veteran of the game who has faced the likes of Antonio McKee, Justin Gaethje, and others in the past, stands at 3-2 in his last five, looks to return to the win column against Nunez, who sits at a perfect 5-0 and stares down a serious step-up in competition.

Also, Rudy Morales and Bryson Hansen do battle in a collision of surging bantamweights, while The Ultimate Fighter 17 veteran Adam Cella meets Danny Davis Jr. in welterweight competition. The main card kicks off with undefeated middleweights Krasimir Mladenov and Brendan Kornberger in action.

With so many eyes and ears of the world ready for this one, who will come out on top?

Main Event: Jake Shields vs. Brian Foster

Had this bout happened when both were in the UFC, there certainly would be a lot of people scratching their heads because of how solid Shields is on the ground, as well as the overwhelming odds he would have been given by oddsmakers to defeat Foster. Put the same fight in the WSOF, with Shields coming off of a win over Ryan Ford and Foster coming off of a bout with Gilbert Smith, and suddenly, we see plenty of the things that should be obvious, regardless of who had anything to do with promoting the bout.

For instance, the 30-year old Foster holds as much chance of being successful in this bout as Shields. Foster flies so far away from the radar that people forget that in a recent 4-1 run, he finished in three of those four wins. Also, with everything that has happened in the world of MMA, it’s easy to forget that Foster planned on seeing action against Mike Hill at WSOF 14 before that fight got scrapped.

Shields can relate to having fights scrapped. He actually got injured back when plans were in place for him to make his WSOF debut against Jon Fitch, which rarely seems to happen with the Cesar Gracie product and former UFC welterweight title challenger. Still, the fact that Shields still managed to end a long streak of decisions by finishing Ford proves that Shields can remain in the mix as more than “just another welterweight”.

The stakes for this one elevate when it becomes common knowledge that the winner of this  may potentially get the next crack at Rousimar Palhares’ WSOF welterweight world title. It seems likely that Foster could emerge with the upset here, because again, he does have as much of a chance as Shields, but once Shields starts to execute his game plan, he doesn’t stop until the ref steps in. Expect the same Saturday night, when he starts going back to the Shields of old and locks up another submission win.

Prediction: Shields def. Foster by submission. Round 3
Co-Main Event: Brian Cobb vs. Johnny Nunez

At first glance, a look at this lightweight fight between Brian Cobb and Johnny Nunez will tell someone two things. First, its placement on the card tells them that it will serve as the night’s co-headliner, which is no small feat, no matter which promotion we talk about. Secondly, a look at the fight itself says that the MFC, WSOF, and UFC veteran Cobb is signed to fight a gentlemen named “Johnny Nunez”, but to fans unfamiliar with Nunez, what does that mean?

For starters, we look at where Cobb has been. After losing to Antonio McKee, Cobb signed with World Series of Fighting and defeated Ronys Torres on the promotion’s inaugural card, but then lost to now-champion Justin Gaethje. In fairness, Gaethje is an undefeated phenom who has beaten quite a few notable names in his career, and besides that, Cobb was hungry to get back to the win column against Luis Palomino last year, before an injury took Cobb out of the fight.

As Cobb prepares for this Saturday night, what must we know about Nunez? Let’s start with that undefeated record of his. Nunez is only five fights deep into his career, but of course, every fighter must start somewhere. Of those five wins, two came by knockout, while one of them came by a submission. As far as decisions go, Nunez owns one win by split decision and one by unanimous decision.

What does it all mean when he faces his most experienced foe to date? Few can say for sure, because for as many prospects that have lost to far more experienced foes, there have been many prospects that also defeated more experienced foes.  Cobb will certainly come in looking to return to the win column, and although Nunez will put up a great fight, Cobb will come out on top with a win.

Prediction: Cobb def. Nunez by unanimous decision
Bantamweight: Bryson Hansen vs. Rudy Morales

In a bantamweight division essentially dominated by its champion, Marlon Moraes, a great number of WSOF bantamweights get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes, this sort of thing can happen to the point where people forget that Moraes last fought Cody Bollinger and is slated to fight Josh Hill in early February of this year until reading about it somewhere or hearing about it from a friend. For those people, there is no need to worry, because Rudy Morales and Bryson Hansen are out to cement themselves as the definitive next in line for a title shot.

Hansen may have started getting some shine when he debuted in WSOF against Sean Cantor, but make no mistake about it, the man has been around the block. Prior to signing with WSOF, Hansen acquired wins in other promotions, such as X-1 and Hawaii Xtreme Combat. Though he comes off of a loss to Matt Sayles, Hansen still possesses a knack for striking and a willingness to go the distance when he must.

Morales contrasts from Hansen in some ways, but he shows similarities in others. He holds slightly less experience than Hansen, but the two hold common ground in the fact that they both have scored the majority of their wins either by decision or a form of knockout, with no submission wins. While one of Hansen’s two pro losses did come by submission, Morales only owns one decision loss on his record.

When two men come in with the styles of both Hansen and Morales, the bout itself promises something of a sleeper. That means that very few are giving it any sort of shine, but it holds potential to be one of the fights that everyone talks about when the event comes to a close. Rest assured, this match will be a tough fight that will likely see the judges’ scorecards, but when the smoke clears, expect Morales to dictate the fight and walk out with a thin decision win.

Prediction: Morales def. Hansen by split decision
Adam Cella vs. Danny Davis Jr.

Adam Cella and Danny Davis Jr. represents a very unique battle. On one hand, Cella spent time on The Ultimate Fighter 17 and fought guys that certainly stood much larger than himself. On the other, Davis represents a challenge on his own because “Dee1″ also plays the finishing game rather nicely.

In fact, in the finishing department, Davis stands at a 50/50, with two wins by submission, one TKO win, and one knockout. The deal with Davis, though, relates more to the fact that he, unlike Cella, has seen the judges’ scorecards eight times in his career, while Cella has never seen the judges’ scorecards.

At this point in the sport, it’s hard to say whether or not that would classify as a bad thing or not, because the matter ultimately reads much like a coin flip. Sure, guys can get reckless in looking for finishes, but when they execute as carefully as Cella does, the end result usually makes for something thrilling.

Against an opponent that can take just about any fight the entire distance, most finishers would struggle, but the TUF 17 veteran will not be one of those cases, despite a three-and-a-half-inch reach advantage for Davis. Cella will experience very little difficulty in finding his way inside and landing a couple of punches to hurt Davis long enough for Cella to follow up with a flurry of strikes, putting Davis out after a rather ugly battle

Prediction: Cella def. Davis by TKO (strikes). Round 2
Middleweight: Krasimir Mladenov vs. Brendan Kornberger

The middleweight clash of Krasimir Mladenov vs. Brendan Kornberger demonstrates one of the strategic goals of the World Series of Fighting promotion, which is to put the spotlight on some of the best prospects that literally nobody in the sport is talking about right now, save for the teammates of the parties involved. It stands to reason that when Mladenov and Kornberger battle on Saturday, fans will get a feel for what both can do and how far both can go in the sport, but what must a new fan know about these guys, aside from their undefeated records?

For starters, let’s look at Mladenov. The Bulgarian-born submission artist kicked off his career with a TKO (injury) win in August of 2008 and has alternated somewhat between decision wins and submission wins. Mladenov scored a huge win over Angel DeAnda at WSOF 10, and planned on seeing Elvis Mutapcic at WSOF 12 before he was forced from the bout with Mutapcic due to injury.

Speaking of injuries, Kornberger takes this fight with Mladenov as a replacement for Mladenov’s original opponent, Jesse Taylor. The British Columbia native got his foot in the door after a win in the amateur circuit, which led to him making his pro debut under the King of The Cage banner in 2010 and emerging victorious. Four of Kornberger’s five pro wins have come by a form of knockout.

There will be no shortage of fireworks in this contest, as both men will look to test each other in just about every realm of the game. Both have gone the distance in past performances, and the same will occur here. Mladenov will struggle a touch in the striking department, but he will still walk out with the win.

Prediction: Mladenov def. Kornberger by unanimous decision

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.