The recent blow of losing welterweight champion Rousimar Palhares’ first title defense for its July 5 fight card ended up not being all that severe for World Series of Fighting after the promotion was able to sign Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shields in its stead.
Palhares was originally slated to defend his belt against Fitch in the WSOF 11 headliner, but withdrew from the fight due to his mother’s ill health and her need for surgery.
A lightweight title tilt between current champion Justin Gaethje and challenger Nick Newell is the new main event, while Fitch vs. Shields will occupy the co-main event slot.
WSOF president Ray Sefo on Friday confirmed the news first reported by MMAJunkie.com.
This change of events may actually make for a more deserving title shot, as Fitch (25-6-1, 1 NC) is 1-1 since signing with World Series of Fighting. He lost his promotional debut in surprising upset by fellow UFC veteran Josh Burkman, who submitted him just 41 seconds into their bout.
Fitch got back on track with a split decision victory over Marcelo Alfaya at WSOF 6 last October before initially being slotted in as Palhares’ first defense.
He’ll now have to win against another incoming UFC veteran in Shields (29-7-1, 1 NC), who is currently one of the top ten ranked welterweights in the world.
Shields was surprisingly released after a single loss in the Octagon ended a four-fight run without a defeat. He defeated Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia back-to-back before losing a decision to Hector Lombard at UFC 171 and then getting released.
WSOF 11: Gaethje vs. Newell takes place on July 5, although a venue and location have yet to be announced.