On Friday, Sept.18, World Series of Fighting touched down in Downtown Phoenix to bring fans WSOF 23 live from the Comerica Theater.

In the nights main event, fans witnessed the highly-anticipated rematch between the undefeated reigning WSOF lightweight champion Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje and hard-hitting challenger Luis “Baboon” Palomino. Gaethje (14-0) previously defeated Palomino (23-10) in thrilling back-and-forth war at WSOF 19 in March.

In the co-main event, David Branch, the reigning WSOF middleweight champion, attempted to become the promotion’s first two-division champion and first world light heavyweight champion in WSOF history as he squared off off against hometown favorite Teddy Holder.

All this plus a bantamweight contest between Timur Valiev and Tito Jones, a 160-pound catchweight bout between costumed crime fighter Phoenix Jones and Robert Young as well as a lightweight fight between Brian Foster and LaRue Burley.

Main Card Summary

Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino – for WSOF lightweight title

Round 1 – With the crowd clearly on Gaethje’s side, both men met in the center of the cage. Palomino kicked things off by staggering Gaethje with a hard right. While he ate the first punch, Palomino followed up with a barrage of strikes, sending the champion stumbling across the cage. Clearly dazed, Gaethje clinched up with Palomino to avoid any more damage.  Now fully recovered , Gaethje connected with a violent 1-2, dropping Palomino to the canvas. While the two eventually made their way back to their feet, Gaethje clinched up and suplexed Palomino square on his head. Both men would finish the round with a flurry of strikes.

Round 2 – Palomino picked things up early in the second frame, peppering Gaethje with strikes before being momentarily dropped again following a combination from the champion. With the crowd erupting around them, both men bit down on their mouthpieces and unloaded on the other’s head. Gaethje would finish up the exchange with a knee right between the eyes of Palomino. Both men would continue to blast the other with everything they had until Gaethje finished it with an overhand right, sending his unconcious opponent crumbling to the canvas. Justin Gaethje  def. Luis Palomino by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:40

David Branch vs. Teddy Holder – for inaugural WSOF light heavyweight title

Round 1 – After quick feeling out process, Branch presses the action against the cage before securing the takedown. With his smaller opponent working in his guard, Holder landed a series of crisp elbows from the bottom. Avoiding more damage, Branch transitioned to side control before flipping right into back control. With his opponent squirming beneath him, Branch locked in the rear naked choke, forcing Holder to tap. David Branch def. Teddy Holder by submission (rear naked choke). Round 1, 2:21 

Tito Jones vs. Timur Valiev

Round 1 – Valiv immediately took the center of the cage and looked to land a barrage of flash kicks on his opponent. Catching his opponent’s kick, Jones momentarily sent Valiev to the canvas. WIth his opponent continuously circling away, Valiev managed to pepper Jones with shots from the center of the cage until the end of the round.

Round 2 – With neither man have taken much damage in the previous round, both picked up the pace early in the second frame. Valiev continuously found a home for the lead leg kick but Jones manage to avoid any major follow up damage. With growing impatient, Jones clinched up against the cage before Valiev reversed wit ha takedown. Working in his Jones’ guard, Valiev finished out the round with barrage of Donkey Kong punches to the skull of his downed opponent.

Round 3 – With the round potentially tied up, Valiev looked to land a finishing blow with a lightning quick spinning heel kick. Connecting only with air, Valiev followed up with a quick 1-2 to his opponents body. Sensing blood, Valiev landed a series of leg kicks followed by a picture perfect question mark kick to Jones’ temple before securing the takedown against the cage. Valiev tried in vain to step over into mount but would up finishing the bout with a flurry of strikes from half guard. Timur Valiev def. Tito Jones by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Ben ‘Phoenix Jones’ Fodor vs. Roberto Yong

Round 1 – Yong came out looking to end it early but Fodor clinches up and pressed the action against the cage, avoiding any damage. After some back-and-forth against the cage, Yong broke free and followed up with a hard right hand to the skull of Fodor. Surviving the onslaught, Fodor connected with his own haymaker, momentarily staggering his opponent. With both visibly dazed, they began to swing wildly at each other until Fodor secured the takedown. With top position secured, Fodor quickly locked on an impressive scissor choke, forcing his opponent to tap.  Ben ‘Phoenix Jones’ Fodor def. Roberto Yong by submission (scissor choke). Round 1 (3:09) 

LaRue Burley vs. Brian Foster

Round 1 – With a touch of the gloves both fighters immediately looked to send their opponent’s head into the crowd. Burley clinched before breaking free, looking to land a left hook. Foster ducked and unloaded with a vicious knee followed by a right hook to the jaw, sending Burley crumpling to the canvas. Following a handful of unnecessary shots to this downed opponent, the referee is forced to stop the fight. Brian Foster def. LaRue Burley by knockout (strikes). Round 1, 0:32  



(c) Justin Gaethje  def. Luis Palomino by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:40 – retains WSOF lightweight title
David Branch def. Teddy Holder by submission (rear naked choke). Round 1, 2:21  – for inaugural WSOF light heavyweight title
Timur Valiev def. Tito Jones by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Ben ‘Phoenix Jones’ Fodor def. Roberto Yong by submission (scissor choke). Round 1 (3:09)
Brian Foster def. LaRue Burley by knockout (strikes). Round 1, 0:32


Vagab Vagabov def. Brian Grinnell by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 2:29
Clifford Starks def. Krasimir Mladenov by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Danny Davis Jr. def. Matthew Frincu by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
David Nuzzo def. Andres Ponce by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Joey Miolla def. Randy Steinke by knockout (knee & strikes). Round 2, 3:55
Benny Madrid def. Jeff Fletcher by submission (rear naked choke). Round 1, 1:26

(c) – champion