World Series of Fighting Goes Old School With Middleweight Tournament At WSOF 5

By Adam Martin

We’ve all seen UFC 1. We all remember Royce Gracie winning the eight-man tournament and along with it a cheque for $50,000, and we all remember how amazed and enthralled we were watching a smaller man submit three bigger men in one single night with something known as “Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

We also remember the old PRIDE Grand Prix. These tournaments were the stuff of legend, and they made legends out of fighters like Mark Coleman, Wanderlei Silva, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who won their fields and went on to become huge stars in the sport.

And yet, for whatever reason, the sport has gone away from the tournament format and has evolved into single-fight matchmaking, even though MMA was built on the bedrock of the tournament. Even Bellator – who said the tournament format was the foundation of the promotion – seems to be moving away from it, as evidenced by its first-ever pay-per-view being headlined by two fighters not tied to any tourney bracket, and I think it’s a shame.

I don’t know why the UFC doesn’t do tournaments anymore, aside from last year’s four-man flyweight field (which really wasn’t a tournament seeing as how one of the fights had to be re-done), but the World Series of Fighting has stepped up to the plate to fill the gap. This weekend, the promotion will hold a four-man middleweight tournament at WSOF 5 that will determine who is crowned the promotion’s first-ever 185-pound champ.

On one side of the bracket, former UFC fighters David Branch and Danillo Villefort square off against one another, while the other side of the field sees another former UFC competitor, Jesse Taylor, take on former Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight champ Elvis Mutapcic. Although none of these four men are huge names in the sport of MMA by any means, they are all very solid fighters, and WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdel Aziz has to be given credit for bringing all four men into the organization and giving them a chance to prove they are elite mixed martial artists by fighting one another.

The fight between Branch and Villefort should be a lot of fun. Branch beat the stuffing out of Paulo Filho at WSOF 2, while Villefort prevailed in a war with Kris McCray at the same event, meaning both guys have quite a bit of momentum going into this match, and that always makes for a good fight.

As for the fight between Taylor and Mutapcic, it’s the classic “Wrestler vs. Striker” fight. Taylor, who was famously kicked out of the TUF 7 finals by UFC president Dana White after a drunken rampage in Las Vegas, has won six straight fights, including winning and defending the Cage Warriors middleweight title, while Mutapcic has won five in a row himself, including a win over TUF Brazil’s Cezar Mutante.

The WSOF doesn’t have many stars, but the tournament format is great at producing them, so look for the winner of this four-man field to start getting pushed by the promotion and begin headlining future fight cards.

It’s a shame that the combat sports world’s collective eyes will be glued to Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez this Saturday night, because the WSOF has scheduled a very underrated card. But hopefully this middleweight tournament is deemed a success even if the ratings are poor, and hopefully the organization continues to hold more tourneys in the future, because for diehards like myself, there’s nothing better than a little tournament in MMA, especially when the bracket is chock full of talent.


World Series of Fighting 5 will take place on September 14, 2013 at Revel Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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