Just a week ago, World Series of Fighting announced it is merging two events to create a super card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Now, WSOF is set to announce the addition of a fourth title fight to that historic card, a middleweight bout between champion David Branch (19-3) and Louis Taylor (13-1). Branch, who is also the light heavyweight champion, is a Brooklyn native and will open the NBC Sports Network portion of the card at 3 p.m. ET as the first televised fight of the event.
Part of the reasoning behind this move was the length required for championship bouts, which are five round affairs. There could be some swing fights waiting to fill gaps if there are quick finishes in the title fights.
WSOF has also found an opponent for bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes (16-4), who will defend his belt against Josenaldo Silva (25-4) to open the main card. Silva has spent his last four fights split between Jungle Fights and Mr. Cage.
"I think we decided Marlon needed a new challenge and we needed a few fresh faces in the weight division. Josenaldo with his record really stood out. After watching a lot of tape and talking to his management, we decided to give him the shot," WSOF CEO Carlos Silva told Sports Illustrated.
The other two previously announced title fights and the bantamweight title fight between Moraes and Silva are slated to fill out the main card, airing on NBC at 4 p.m. ET. Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje defends his belt against Joao Zeferino in the main event. Welterweight champion Jon Fitch (28-7) defends his belt against Jake Shields (31-8) in the co-main event. Bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes defends his belt against Josenaldo Silva (25-4) to open the main card.
Also booked for the event is UFC veteran Jared Rosholt (14-3), who will make his WSOF debut against Caio Alencar (9-1). Former heavyweight champion Smealinho Rama (9-2) makes his debut at light heavyweight against Jake Heun (9-4). Yushin Okami (32-10) fights Paul Bradley (23-6) in a welterweight bout and former U.S. Marine Corps veterans Shane Kruchten (11-4) will fight Jeremy Mahon (5-4) in a 150-pound "Who's The Toughest" catchweight bout.
"I think pretty much every fight is going to be exciting, and it will defintely be our best night, no doubt about it," Silva said.
WSOF won't slow down pushing into 2017, with an event following on Jan. 20 and revealed that the card is coming together. Given the title belt loaded New York City card, this card will be an event loaded with top contenders.
The full fight card as it stands is as follows:
Main Card (NBC, 4 p.m. ET)
Lightweight Title Fight: Justin Gaethje (16-0) v. Joao Zeferino (20-8)
Welterweight Title Fight: Jon Fitch (28-7) v. Jake Shields (31-8)
Bantamweight Title Fight: Marlon Moraes (16-4) v. Josenaldo Silva (25-4)
Prelim (NBC Sports Network, 3 p.m. ET)
Middleweight Title Fight: David Branch (19-3) v. Louis Taylor (13-1)
Smealinho “The Prince” Rama (9-2) v. Jake “The Honey Bear” Heun (9-4)
Yushin “Thunder” Okami (32-10) v. Paul Bradley (23-6)
Shane Kruchten (11-4) v. Jeremy Mahon (5-4)
Jared Rosholt (14-3) v. Caio Alencar (9-1)