Justin Gaethje vs. Nick Newell: Complete Guide to WSOF 11 Main Card

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

Justin Gaethje vs. Nick Newell: Complete Guide to WSOF 11 Main Card

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    Credit: WSOF.com

    On a weekend defined by back-to-back UFC fight nights, World Series of Fighting 11 quietly makes the bold leap to network TV, debuting this Saturday on NBC.

    Headlined by the sure-to-be-exciting lightweight title fight between Justin Gaethje and Nick Newell, the promotion is putting its best foot forward for its biggest card to date. The main event isn't the only fight to look forward to, though, as it is backed up by not one, not two, but three likely top-contender bouts.

    Pablo Alfonso and Cody Bollinger kick off the card to determine the next opponent for WSOF's top male talent, Marlon Moraes. UFC fan favorite Melvin Guillard faces off with Strikeforce veteran Gesias Cavalcante with a shot at the main event's winner on the line. Finally, in the co-main event, Jon Fitch takes on Dennis Hallman, with welterweight champ Rousimar Palhares waiting in the wings. 

    The fights go down Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, but in the meantime, keep on reading Bleacher Report's guide to the WSOF 11 main card!

Pablo Alfonso vs. Cody Bollinger

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    Credit: WSOF.com

    Weight Class:

    Bantamweight

    Who Are These Guys? 

    Cody Bollinger is likely best remembered as the guy the producers of The Ultimate Fighter season 18 buried as a substitute for actual drama. While he "flushed his dreams down the toilet" by missing weight ahead of his quarterfinal bout with Anthony Gutierrez, he left the house and was promptly sent a contract offer from WSOF due to his serious upside. His wrestling base, coupled with his long frame, make him a threat standing and on the ground.

    Pablo Alfonso, meanwhile, was meant to be a tune-up fight for former bantamweight great and supposed-to-be-star Miguel Torres. When he pulled off the upset, he became an instant contender out of equal parts Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills and necessity. 

    Will It Be Good?

    Bollinger's WSOF debut was a snoozer, but it would be wrong to downplay the significance of a win over Tyson Nam. Alfonso's, however, was an electrifying first-round submission over the WEC's greatest champion. Both fighters own strong grappling chops and have finished the vast majority of their fights, so there is plenty to be excited for here.

    How Will It Go?

    A quick look at the tale of the tape says a lot. Cody Bollinger is 5'10", owns a 15-2 record and owns more than his share of knockout and submission wins. Pablo Alfonso stands at 5'7", enters the fight at 9-5 and either submits you or loses. 

    Look for Bollinger to take this one by way of his superior striking.

Melvin Guillard vs. Gesias Cavalcante

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Weight Class:

    Lightweight

    Who Are These Guys?

    You know Melvin Guillard, right? Silly dye job? Massive hands? OK.

    Gesias Cavalcante is a veteran of Shooto, Dream and Strikeforce who has notched many big wins over low-level competition. However, the losses to Joachim Hansen, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Josh Thomson loom large on his record. He is a serviceable dual threat, but a middling veteran by every measure.

    Will It Be Good?

    That depends on Melvin Guillard. If the Guillard of 2013, who straight-up murdered Ross Pearson and Mac Danzig, shows up, it will likely be a fast, emphatic knockout. If not, expect an ugly, boring affair in the same vein as Guillard vs. Michael Johnson in March.

    How Will It Go?

    Again, if Guillard is on, he will absolutely annihilate Cavalcante. If not, it will be an ugly toss-up of a decision.

Jon Fitch vs. Dennis Hallman

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Weight Class:

    Welterweight

    Who Are These Guys?

    You remember both of these guys, I'm sure. Jon Fitch was a perennial contender in the UFC's welterweight division and was unfairly released for his deadly combination of wrestling, jiu-jitsu and dreariness. Dennis Hallman, meanwhile, is a true MMA veteran who has been fighting for 18 years and defeated welterweight legend Matt Hughes by submission. Twice. He's also a snappy dresser.  

    Will It Be Good?

    Fitch and Hallman are both savvy, experienced grapplers who have fought many of the best welterweights in MMA. That can lead to the sort of high-level chess match we saw recently with Hatsu Hioki vs. Charles Oliveira, or it can lead to 15 minutes of clinch work. 

    How Will It Go?

    Once again, it will likely go to decision in a grappling-focused effort. We haven't seen Fitch lose too many of those, making him the favorite. Don't no-sell Hallman winning, however. Fitch has been struggling of late and was ineffectual against an utterly subpar Marcelo Alfaya. 

Justin Gaethje vs. Nick Newell

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Weight Class:

    Lightweight

    Who Are These Guys?

    Justin Gaethje is World Series of Fighting's lightweight champion and easily its best homegrown talent. With his solid wrestling base and his surprisingly refined striking, he can be regarded as one of the best lightweights in the world. Check out the full Bleacher Report MMA 125 breakdown here.

    Nick Newell is, unfortunately, widely known as "that one-handed fighter." In reality, he is a dynamic submission artist who has scored a remarkable eight submission victories in 11 fights. Both of them rank among the hottest up-and-comers, and best finishers, at 155 pounds.

    Will It Be Good?

    Almost certainly, and it's appealing from a variety of angles. Both fighters are particularly exciting but still relatively unknown commodities.

    Seeing either one of them tested against a high-level opponent would be a treat. Seeing them fight each other, however, should be even better.

    How Will It Go?

    This is a very difficult call, but it ultimately comes down to which fighter has the better wrestling. Gaethje is the safer bet courtesy of his lethal clinch game.