It looks like World Series of Fighting is heading to the Southwest.

On Friday afternoon, the promotion  announced WSOF 19: Gaethje vs. Palomin, will be held at the Comerica Theatre in Downtown Phoenix, March 28. A lightweight title fight between reining champion Justin Gaethje and the hard hiting Luis “Baboon” Palomino will serve as the main event.

The 26-year-old Gaethje (13-0) a native of Safford, AZ. has been on a perfect run since his 2011 professional debut. He made his WSOF debut in March 2013, scoring a violent first round  TKO over Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante. He would eventualy go on to defeat Brian Cobb, Dan Lauzon and Richard Patishnock en route to capturing the WSOF 155-pound with a second round stoppage of Nick Newell in July 2014. In his most recent effort Gaethje defended his belt against Melvin Guillard, earning a split decision win over the former UFC veteran. He will enter this bout with 11c career stoppage wins, including 10 by way of knockout.

The 34-year-old Palomino (23-9), a native of Peru,  has been explosive in the WSOF cage, thus far, picking up back-to-back KO wins over fellow battle-tested veteran Jorge “Macaco” Patino and the previously undefeated “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez, by way of an onslaught of punches and a knee strike-punch combination, respectively to earn a shot at Gaethje’s title. He will enter this bout with 13 knockouts and 2 submission victories under his belt.

The event also marks the beginning of a multi-event, four-man elimination tournament that will crown its winner the promotion’s inaugural light heavyweight champion later this year. Former UFC turned WSOF fighters Ronny Markes and Thiago Silva will square off in the first bout of the tournament’s first stage.

The second bout in the first stage of the WSOF tournament, pitting wrestling standout and inspiration Matt “The Hammer” Hamill, who first rose to fame during the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, against the soon to be announced fourth tournament entrant.

The winners of the two, initial stage tournament bouts will square off against each other with the vacant WSOF world title at stake.

Hamill (11-5) of Loveland, Ohio remains one of the most inspirational athletes in all of MMA, even as he nears 10 years in the sport. Deaf since birth, Hamill managed to earn his way to three NCAA Division III wrestling national titles before turning his attention to MMA.

The subject of a 2010 biographical film entitled “The Hammer,” Hamill, who announced his retirement from the sport less than two years ago, owns notable wins over UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz as well as standout fighters Tim Boetsch, Keith Jardine and Mark Muñoz. He is still the only man to hand Jon Jones a loss, despite it being a disqualification.

Markes (15-3) will be looking to make it two straight under the WSOF banner.  A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, the 26-year-old turned pro in 2007 and opened his career at 12-1 before moving down to middleweight, where he found mixed results at 2-2 in a four-fight run. He returned to light heavyweight in his WSOF debut, scoring a dominating decision win over Cully Butterfield this past August. In his career, Markes is 13-1 when competing at 205 pounds.

Silva (16-3), a member of the famed Blackzillians camp, has been fighting professionally for nearly a decade. The 32-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt opened his career with 13 consecutive victories, a run that included nine first-round stoppages. Silva’s appearance will mark his first start since earning a unanimous decision over Hamill on Oct. 9, 2013. Prior to this win, he earned a brutal first round knokout over former Strikeforce champion. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.

Additional bouts for WSOF 19: Gaethje vs. Palomino will be announced soon.

The live NBCSN telecast of WSOF 19: Gaethje vs. Palomino will begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PS

About The Author

News Manager

José began his career as a mixed martial arts journalist while still enrolled at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University. Since graduating in May 2013, he has attended dozens of high profile UFC fight cards as a credentialed member of the media, providing live cage side coverage through his articles and videos. His work has appeared on UFC.com, ArizonaSports.com and AZCentral. He is also currently one of the main contributors on Power MMA Show at Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, one of the first all MMA radio shows on a major radio station.