WSOF 23 ‘Gaethje vs. Palomino 2’ Results & Play-by-Play

By Jordan Breen Sep 18, 2015

Sherdog.com's live World Series of Fighting 23 coverage kicks off at 7 p.m. ET from the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix. Also, a free live stream of the undercard can be watched HERE.

Check out the MMA Forums to discuss the card or enter your comments and predictions below.

Jeff Fletcher vs. Benny Madrid

Round 1

(+ Enlarge) | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com

Madrid tapped out Fletcher.
Fletcher throws a lazy outside low kick to start the lightweight contest, allowing Madrid to hit a quick single. Fletcher pops up, but Madrid gets a front headlock and forces him back to the mat with some knees. Fletcher breaks free and fires his hands, but Madrid tackles him easily again, moving straight into full mount against his fellow Arizonan. Madrid lands some left hands that force Fletcher to turn, and Madrid looks for the rear-naked choke. “El Hijo” crossfaces his man, turning him over and sinking the choke. Fletcher tries to power out for a moment, but Madrid adjusts and squeezes tighter, making Fletcher tap before he passes out.

The Official Result

Benny Madrid def. Jeff Fletcher via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R1 1:26

Joey Miolla vs. Randy Steinke

Round 1

Steinke throws a Superman punch to start proceedings, but Miolla tries to duck under and take him down. Steinke stuffs him, then goes back to stalking his target from the southpaw stance. Miolla steps in and eats a hard right hook counter from Steinke. Miolla loads up an overhand right of his own, making hard contact and forcing Steinke into a takedown attempt of his own. Miolla blocks it, then pushes Steinke out of the clinch. Miolla looks for a right head kick upstairs, but it is blocked. Finally, Miolla finds his route for a takedown off of a Steinke punch rush, slamming his man to the mat along the fence. As Steinke tries to jump back up, Miolla grabs a guillotine, tightens his grip and jumps guard. Steinke turns to his side, and Miolla doesn't have control over his hips, so Steinke takes his time and slowly peels his head out before scrambling back to his feet. They come together in the clinch, with Steinke driving Miolla into the fence with one underhook, hoping to open up a takedown. Miolla lands a knee inside and separates. Steinke lands a left kick to the body, and Miolla touches him with a right hand behind it. Steinke moves around Miolla, kicking his legs until the first-round bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Miolla
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Miolla
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Miolla

Round 2

Miolla steps into the pocket crouching low and gets tagged with a pair of hooks. He tries to come back with a rear uppercut, but misses his target, allowing Steinke to move away, then get back to his outside low kick routine. Another Steinke low kick, followed by a glancing hook as Miolla tries to load up a big hook in response. Miolla walks into a head kick from Steinke, catching it and knocking him to the mat while absorbing the impact. Steinke gets back to his feet, but Miolla drops him with another wide left hook.

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Miolla put out Steinke's lights.
“The Beast” tries to jump on Steinke to finish, but Steinke ties him up, avoids damage, then regains his feet, going right back to stalking Miolla. Miolla finally starts to come forward more on his own now, feinting and moving Steinke around. Miolla throws a wide left hook, which prompts Steinke to shoot in. Unfortunately, Miolla sets him up for a perfect right high kick, the shin driving straight into Steinke's face as he shoots. Steinke goes down stiff on his back, and Miolla drives one more hard right-handed coffin nail into his face before referee Al Guinee can intervene.

The Official Result

Joey Miolla def. Randy Steinke via KO (Head Kick) R2 3:55

David Nuzzo vs. Andres Ponce

Round 1

The aggression belongs to Ponce from the outset of the bantamweight contest, launching heavy head kicks and hooks while circling around Nuzzo. Ponce lands stinging outside leg kicks, but as soon as Nuzzo attacks, Ponce hits his back without much effort and essentially pulls guard. Nuzzo stands up, cracking Ponce in the legs with low kicks before diving into half guard with strong ground-and-pound punches. “Bad News” stands up again, letting Ponce regain his feet this time, then starts to stalk his foe. A spinning back kick from Ponce touches Nuzzo, but with minimal force. Nuzzo with another hard outside low kick, and Ponce just misses with a big right. Nuzzo lands an overhand right, seguing into a knee, then lands another series of punches punctuated by a knee. Again, Ponce essentially falls to floor, inviting Nuzzo to top position. Nuzzo takes the full opportunity, moving into full mount with just under 90 seconds left in the round. “Bad News” gets busy with left hands and right elbows, creeping his mount up higher to trap Ponce. Nuzzo sits back and fires more punches as Nuzzo keeps his forearms over his face. Nuzzo starts selecting his shots more judiciously, trying to break Ponce's guard with single heavy elbows and punches.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo

Round 2

Both bantamweights throwing active one-two combos as the round begins, but as soon as Nuzzo throws a low cut kick, he knocks Ponce off balance and onto his back again. Nuzzo settles into half guard, looking for more ground-and-pound to the head, as he sets it up with elbows to the ribs. Nuzzo tries to pass guard, allowing Ponce to replace full guard and then close it up. Nuzzo lands short, middling shots from full guard, unable to posture up and land any significant punishment, as Ponce ties his arms up and keeps his guard closed for the most part. With under a minute to go, Nuzzo moves Ponce back to the fence and lands some body-head punching action. The action slows to a crawl in the last 30 seconds with Nuzzo riding the round out on top.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo

Round 3

Despite playing defense for most of the fight, Ponce comes out swinging, first reaching Nuzzo with a long right hand, then a series of hooks and uppercuts. Nuzzo recovers and circles out, blocking Ponce's bevy of capoeira kicks. Again, Ponce gets too wild, allowing Nuzzo to crack him once, knock him off balance and sent him buttscooting on the mat. Naturally, Nuzzo goes back to what's worked, diving into half guard on top and punching away until the halfway mark of the round, when he opts to stand back up. Ponce is spry on the feet again, rocking Ponce with a four-punch combo, putting his man on his heels and finally hitting a takedown of his own just over two minutes to go.

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Nuzzo easily decisioned Ponce.
Ponce punches on top, then moves into half guard. Nuzzo tries to sit up and replace full guard, and while successful, eats elbows in the process. Nunzo shrimps to the fence and nearly gives up his back, but he shakes Ponce, lands on top and seeks to finish. Nuzzo passes back into full mount with less than 30 seconds left and tries to end the third round in the same fashion as the first, punching and elbowing away on Ponce, but Ponce bridges and reverses with just seconds left.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo (30-27 Nuzzo)
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo (30-27 Nuzzo)
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Nuzzo (30-27 Nuzzo)

The Official Result

David Nuzzo def. Andres Ponce via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) R3 5:00

Danny Davis Jr. vs. Matthew Frincu

Round 1

Davis presses Frincu with his hands quickly, but Frincu lands a quick head kick, left cross and backs him off. Davis returns a moment later flashing more hands, only to walk into another left cross that stumbles him up, prompting a takedown attempt. Frincu stuffs it, then separates. They come together in another clinch, where Frincu backs Davis up to the cage, lands a chopping left elbow, then separates. Each time Davis approaches Frincu, he's in the crosshairs of the Arizonan-based Australian's left. Frincu now coming forward more comfortably, though he doesn't seem to realize how effective his left hand has been. Frincu throws a left body kick and Davis knocks him on his seat with a counter, but no real damage is done. Frincu gets back up and puts a knee in Davis' gut, then a kick to the body at the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Frincu
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Frincu
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Frincu

Round 2

The second round starts awkwardly, as Frincu tries to wipe moisture off of his feet on the canvas and tries to call time to referee Al Guinee, but Davis rushes him. Guinee incomprehensibly intervenes, then lets the action continue, where “The Thunder from Down Under” goes back to flexing his southpaw lefts on Davis. Frincu feints, lands a hard left kick to the body, but Davis catches his leg and puts him on the mat. “Dee1” lands a few punches, however, he does nothing to keep Frincu on the mat, so the Aussie casually retakes his feet and resumes stalking Davis. Hard right hook lands for Frincu and Davis circles out. Davis scores with a right body kick, but Frincu rings him up with a one-two that knocks his foe back into the fence. Frincu keeps sliding forward with forward pressure, landing a left hook, then a left kick square on the gut. Frincu rips out a spinning wheel kick that goes wide with just over a minute to go. They trade low kicks, with Frincu's latter kick stumbling Davis up. Davis kicks to the body, but Frincu easily catches it and lands a right hook counter. Davis catches a Frincu kick and tags him, but there's not much force behind it. Another left cross for Frincu lands, then he hits an outside trip, stands and soccer kicks Davis in the ribs at the round's end.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Frincu
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Frincu
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Frincu

Round 3

Davis lands a one-two, but Frincu responds with a left body kick, then a left inside low kick. Frincu is cut at the outside of his left eye, but it's not particularly bothering him. Davis throws an ugly hook, letting Frincu clinch. Frincu pushes away, clocks him with a head kick that Davis impressively absorbs, then goes back to the clinch momentarily. “Dee1” gets free, but Frincu is coolly stalking forward with left crosses and kicks at his own discretion now. Davis swims to a clinch, then eats a hard knee. Davis pulls away, doubled over so Frincu tries to pursue, but it looks like Davis is playing possum, as he unloads the minute Frincu comes into his area code, just missing.

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Frincu's left hand won the fight.
Two minutes left in the fight. Lukewarm, reaching jab-cross lands for Davis, more a product of Frincu's fatigue at this point. Davis jumps into a Frincu right hook, then blocks a head kick. We're under 60 seconds now in the contest and it's Frincu still stalking Davis, who assuredly knows he's behind. Another left body kick from Frincu crashes into Davis' arms. Davis grabs a clinch, but it's another Frincu knee-head kick attempt. Davis slugs Frincu with a Superman punch and a right, but it's too little too late.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Frincu (30-27 Frincu)
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Frincu (30-27 Frincu)
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Frincu (30-27 Frincu)

The Official Result

Matthew Frincu def. Danny Davis Jr. via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) R3 5:00

Clifford Starks vs. Krasimir Mladenov

Round 1

Starks cautiously paws a jab at Mladenov over the course of a slow opening 90 seconds until finally Mladenov sneaks in an overhand right, then Starks tags him to the body. Mladenov gets caught barging in, walking right into a right hand from Starks that briefly knocks him off balance, but Mladenov is quickly back on even footing. Starks sneaks a quick right hand in during an otherwise fruitless exchange of jabs, then glances with a left hook moments later. Mladenov is cut above the outside of his right eye. Mladenov tries to barrel in on the American with an overhand right, but hits air. Starks uncorks another right hand that hits Mladenov's guard, but does serve to back him up.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Starks
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Starks
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Starks

Round 2

Mladenov steps in with another slow overhand right, but Starks cuts him off with a jab. “The Wrestler,” perhaps true to his nickname, keeps trying to close on Starks with the same tepid right, and misses or is countered each time. Starks bangs the body, then goes upstairs, but mostly hits the Bulgarian's guard. Starks lands two stiff jabs that get the blood flowing from his foe's even more profoundly. Mladenov is more willing to exchange in this second round, but his lacks the hand speed, and Starks is chewing him up with short jabs and counter jabs. Referee Ryan Brueggeman calls for a pause in the action for the ringside physician to examine the cut in Mladenov's right eyebrow, but after the consult, he's cleared to continue. On the restart, Mladenov actually lands a clean left hook. Both men finally start to open up with 90 seconds to go, more actively throwing hard, clean punches, but it's still Starks' jab shining through, popping the Bulgarian in his right eye with regularity. Mladenov shoots low and sucks Starks' legs out, but winds up in a guillotine. Starks pops his hips and rolls Mladenov, abandoning the guillotine when he gets to full mount with 30 seconds to go. The bloody Mladenov locks his arms around Starks' waist to prevent any damage as the clock ticks down and expires.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Starks
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Starks
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Starks

Round 3

Starks walks Mladenov down, still waiting to pop his jab as soon as the Bulgarian advances on him. The UFC veteran feints, but can't elicit any real response from Mladenov, who circles from side to side, taking a breather. Mladenov throws a double right hand, but is blocked. Mladenov backs Starks up with two lefts, but nothing further materializes.

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Starks' jab busted Mladenov and handed
the Bulgarian his first defeat.
“The Big Cat” scores a left hook counter on a charging Mladenov, circles out, then does it again moments later. Starks jabs, Mladenov gets in on a very low single, but Starks shuts down “The Wrestler,” pulls him up and secures an underhook. Mladenov drives at Starks' legs with a minute left, but the American casually pushes his head down. Mladenov pops up and lands two good right hooks while flurrying, but Starks pops him with another jab. They wing punches with 10 seconds to go, then Starks gets in on a takedown. Mladenov, however, blocks the double-leg attempt and throws Starks to the mat as the contest ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Mladenov (29-28 Starks)
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-9 Mladenov (29-28 Starks)
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Starks (30-27 Starks)

The Official Result

Clifford Starks def. Krasimir Mladenov via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) R3 5:00

Brian Grinnell vs. Vagab Vagabov

Round 1

Grinnell runs into the clinch with Vagabov immediately, who locks up a counter kimura standing and threatens. They sidle up along the cage, with Vagabov figure-fouring the left arm of Grinnell, but the American gets his arm free and powers through a takedown into the Dagestani's half guard. Vagabov holds onto a loose headlock on Grinnell for a minute as he tries to pass, slowing any real passing progress. Finally, Grinnell pops his head out, overhooks on the nearside and tries to pressure down to pass. He uses his left arm to land elbows while crossfacing Vagabov, then bases down to pass again. Grinnell pressures with head-and-shoulder control, but can't break out of Vagabov's half guard ensnaring his right leg. Vagabov looks for an arm-triangle choke from the bottom, but Grinnell easily turns that away before looking to attack Vagabov's left arm. Vagabov pulls his arm free, Grinnell punches and the opening round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-10
Jesse Denis scores the round 10-10
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Grinnell

Round 2

Grinnell charges in for a takedown, eats a body kick and Vagabov turns him away. Another Grinnell shot, another easy stuff from Vagabov, who flurries with both hands and lands a head kick. Grinnell is tired and hurt, desperate for a takedown, but Vagabov's lack of wrestling polish shows through again, as Grinnell haphazardly tackles him down while getting punched up. Vagabov kicks Grinnell away, but the American stays glued to his waist as they come to feet. Vagabov tries to throw him with an overhook, but winds up on his knees turtled with Grinnell looking to take the back, but Grinnell is too high and slips over the top. As soon as they take the feet, Vagabov unloads with his both hands, and referee Al Guinee takes the moment to replace Grinnell's mouthguard which came out earlier, giving him a much needed break. On the restart, Grinnell charges into the clinch, putting Vagabov into the fence.

(+ Enlarge) | Photo: K. Mills/Sherdog.com

Vagabov got in some extra work.
The unbeaten Dagestani gets underhooks, turns him around, then cracks him with a knee, then more punches while he falls against the cage. Vagabov lays into him with a final salvo of knees as Grinnell is bent over at the waist slumping, and referee Al Guinee steps in. The stoppage comes awkwardly, as Vagabov doesn't seem to immediately recognize Guinee is stopping the fight, launching another knee and a standing hammerfist at Grinnell, earning an admonishment from the official. Nonetheless, after the official stoppage, Vagabov explains his side of the story to Grinnell and the middleweights hug it out with class.

The Official Result

Vagab Vagabov def. Brian Grinnell via TKO (Punches and Knees) R2 2:29

LaRue Burley vs. Brian Foster

Round 1

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Foster laid Burley out flat.
Foster comes out swinging with right hands and a head kick that stuns Burley. Burley steps away, but Foster cracks him with another right. Then move inside, digging to the body. Foster tries to lift Burley, but bails out and they start swinging. “The Cannibal” lands a left, but Foster isn't fazed. Foster absolutely crushes Burley with a left hook that leaves him unconscious instantly, falling over his own body, stiff. The UFC vet cracks him with a massive right hand as he crashes to the mat, and referee Al Guinee dives into the fray to save the wasted Burley. Brutal knockout from Brian Foster.

The Official Result

Brian Foster def. Larue Burley via KO (Punch) R1 0:32

Ben Fodor vs. Roberto Yong

Round 1

Fodor trots into the pocket with his hands up, allowing Yong to fire off several quick combos, most of which hit Fodor's arms. “Phoenix Jones” quickly grabs overhooks, runs Yong into the fence and looks for a takedown, but Yong extricates himself, then runs Fodor down with more punches. Yong remains hyperaggressive on the feet, quickly stalking Fodor down and ripping off wild punches that just glance their target. Fodor preserves himself by winging back, then grabbing a front headlock to neutralize Yong. Fodor moves Yong back to the fence with the front headlock, releases it, lands two hard hooks, then dives right back on it while digging his right forearm under for a potential guillotine. Fodor locks one and tries to wrench it standing, but doesn't have an angle. Yong lands a right hook, then pops his head out. Both men launch wild punches and miss, but Yong lands a left cross and a right hook moments later. Yong moves “Phoenix Jones” back to the fence and bombs on him with both hands, showing serious pop in his hands.

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Fodor locked on a leg-scissors choke.
Fodor shoots a double, locks his hands and slams Yong to the mat to stop the threat at the halfway mark of the round, easily moving into side control. Yong tries to scramble, so Fodor moves into north-south and locks onto a kimura, then stepping over Yong's head. Fodor rolls to his side, locking up neck scissors on Yong. Fodor pinches Yong's neck with his knees while still threatening the arm, but he doesn't need the latter. The low-percentage clothespin choke gets the unique tapout for “Phoenix Jones.”

The Official Result

Ben Fodor def. Roberto Yong via Submission (Leg Scissor Choke) R1 3:09

Timur Valiev vs. Tito Jones

Round 1

Valiev takes to stalking Jones, who keeps his lead right hand out and crouches, looking to jab. Valiev unloads a spinning wheel kick that Jones blocks, then sneaks a jab behind. Valiev is all about constant pressure early, crowding Jones despite not throwing many strikes through the first 90 seconds. Valiev lands a right kick to the body, Jones partially catches it and jabs off of it. The Dagestani throws a left body kick, Jones catches this one, and he drives a hard left cross down the center and puts Valiev's on his seat for a moment. Valiev is right back up, getting in Jones' face and looking to unload kicks. Jones tries to handfight his way inside, but Valiev uses a jab of his own to back Jones up. Lead left hook from Valiev knocks Jones on top of his head. The Dagestani sneaks a clean right cross in moments later, then misses a spining back fist. Multiple feints from Valiev set up a hard inside leg kick on Jones' lead leg, but he can't corner the his elusive target with punches. Both men wing on each other with 15 seconds left, then clinch with nothing landed. They break, Valiev lands a low kick and the bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Valiev
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Valiev
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Valiev

Round 2

Valiev continues to crowd Jones, landing two lead left hooks, then unloading a spinning back kick that just misses. The bantamweights clinch up, Valiev lands two knees to the body and Jones just misses a left on the break. Jones glances with a left cross as he dances away from the Dagestani. Valiev just misses with another lead left hook, but lands a hard inside low kick, then a sneaky right cross while drifting to his left a la Dominick Cruz. Jones steps inside and Valiev's left hook wards him off. Valiev stays in Jones' face, but Jones starts to abate his attacks with the lead right hook when he charges. Valiev gets wilder and wilder with his double left hand leads, colliding with Jones in a clinch, then ragdolling him to the mat with two minutes to go in the second stanza. Valiev gets posture from full guard and attacks with punches and elbows. Valiev just swimming toward his foe with overhand punches from full guard, backing him toward the fence. Jones tries to fire back hammerfists from bottom to no avail, as Valiev keeps hammering him with punches to the body, then elbows to the head. Valiev gets Jones back to the fence and smashes away with both hands from full guard with aggressive hammerfists and overhand bolos.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Valiev
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Valiev
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Valiev

Round 3

Valiev's forward pressure is less extreme to begin the third, as the Dagestani fighter takes his time over the first 30 seconds, trying to measure a spinning hook kick that misses. Jones looks to attack and eats a right cross down the middle. Jones has more opportunities now to come forward, but Valiev uses his kicks to stop his pressure, then looks to counter with punches. Valiev takes the lead now, dodging a Jones left cross, then digging into him with a low kick. Valiev half-heartedly attempts a flying knee and gets tagged. The next time they engage, Jones puts a quick one-two on Valiev's mouth, but then eats a body kick. Jones suspects Valiev is going to charge, so he looks for the lead right hook, but Valiev shoots low and plants him on the mat.

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Valiev's constant pressure topped Jones.
Two minutes to go and Valiev moves Jones back to the cage and grinds away from half guard, looking to pass. Valiev pins Jones' far wrist, then explodes to punch. It lets Jones get to his feet, albeit eating flailing rights from Valiev. Valiev then sucks Jones right back to the canvas and tries to pass over his legs into full mount, but is forced to go to side control on the far side. Valiev knees Jones to the body, then tries to cut the knees across into full mount, but Jones blocks it. Valiev hears the 10-second clapper and gets busy with wild punches, but can't stop the toll of the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Valiev (30-27 Valiev)
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Valiev (30-27 Valiev)
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Valiev (30-27 Valiev)

The Official Result

Timur Valiev def. Tito Jones via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) R3 5:00

WSOF Light Heavyweight Title Fight:
David Branch vs. Teddy Holder

Round 1

Branch probes the distance early with a low kick and Holder fires his right hand off of it, just glancing. Branch bends and charges for a takedown, and while Holder denies him initially, the WSOF middleweight champ runs him back into the cage, sucks his hips out and puts him on the mat. Branch lands in full guard, landing left hands as Holder tries to turn off of the cage with his feet.

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Branch took home more WSOF hardware.
Branch passes into side control and forces his man back into the cage. Holder tries to spin, but Branch stays ahead of him, trapping him in side control on the opposite side, then moving into back mount when Holder tries to take his feet. Holder gets to his knees, feeting Branch's right arm. Branch sneaks it under the neck, and in the blink of an eye, cinches up the rear-naked choke with maximum power. Holder grimaces and is forced to tap. David Branch is the first World Series of Fighting light heavyweight champion, and WSOF's first two-division champion.

The Official Result

David Branch def. Teddy Holder via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R1 2:21

WSOF Lightweight Title Fight:
Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino

Round 1

Gaethje advances on Palomino, then unloads an outside low kick, while Palomino fires a right-handed counter. The pattern continues, as the champ moves Palomino across the cage, looking for his outside low kick. When he abandons it and dives in with a right hand, Palomino rips him with a wild left hand. The Peruvian just doesn't give a damn, and is unloading maximum power with every shot, hitting Gaethje with a winging right hand that stumbles the champ, nearly knocking him over. Palomino walks into a right hook from Gaethje while landing a right of his own, and it's turning into their first barnburner all over again. Gaethje gets the collar tie and delivers some knees, but Palomino brawls his way out. Gaethje steps away, shoots low, elevates Palomino and slams him to the mat, but he can't hold “Baboon” down. Gaethje walks his challenger down again, shoots low and when Palomino defends, Gaethje pops up with a beautiful short right uppercut that drops Palomino on the mat. Palomino gets his wits back quickly, but Gaethje is all over him, forcing him to turtle as he drives knees into his ribs and boxes his ears. “Baboon” stands, but gets elevated and slammed out of the rear waistlock, with Gaethje landing in half guard, posturing up and delivering brutal elbows. With just over 70 seconds left in the round, the champion opts to stand and lets his challenger join him. Gaethje walks Palomino down again and they exchange outside low kicks. Gaethje misses big time on a slow spining wheel kick and Palomino smacks him with a right. Gaethje lands a chopping overhand, Palomino ends up hitting him in the back of the head as he pulls away in the exchange. Palomino's follow-up attack strays low and referee Ryan Brueggeman calls for a brief halt in the action. Gaethje is fine, they restart and the bell rings to end another thrilling round between these two lightweights.

Sherdog Scores

Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Gaethje
Brian Knapp scores the round 10-9 Gaethje
Jeff Miller scores the round 10-9 Gaethje

Round 2

Gaethje continues walking his challenger down, but Palomino drives another right hand through his guard and wings on him again. Another lighting-quick right uppercut from Gaethje rocks Palomino's head up, collpasing his legs. The champ is all over him again, nearly locking up a guillotine, but the Peruvian shows off incredible toughness by fighting back to his feet. They clinch briefly so Palomino can get his wits, then they disengage, with the champ again stalking his prey. Gaethje gets close and rips Palomino with punches and knees, with Palomino ripping him back with right hands. Gaethje goes back to the collar tie and lands knees to the head, then a hard right hook. Palomino turns, escapes off the fence and lands an outside low kick. A Palomino head kick is blocked by Gaethje, but the challenger rips him to the body moments later. Palomino loads up on a big swing and gets cut to his knees by a Gaethje low kick, but pops right back up, hammering with right hands into Gaethje's high guard. Gaethje stalks, lands a jab, then just misses another huge right uppercut.

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Gaethje remained champion in another thriller.
Palomino circles, launches a left kick to the body and gives chase. Gaethje backs away and as “Baboon” pursues with a wild hook, the champ explodes into an atomic right hook of his own, flattening Palomino on the canvas for a third time in the fight. Incredibly, “Baboon” is sentient enough to offer some rudimentary defense, but Gaethje is all over him with heavy ground-and-pound, calling referee Ryan Brueggeman into action. Justin Gaethje retains the WSOF lightweight title in another barnburner.

The Official Result

Justin Gaethje def. Luis Palomino via TKO (Punches) R2 4:40

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