Karakhanyan earned the belt with a slick, third-round submission of previously undefeated contender Lance Palmer in the main event of Saturday’s “World Series of Fighting 7: Karakhanyan vs. Palmer” event, which took place at PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The night’s main card aired on NBCSN.
Karakhanyan came out looking to strike, firing off high kicks from range. He also showed some impressive early takedown defense. As Palmer settled in to strike, he reached out with a right hand that saw his open fingers scrape Karakhanyan’s left eye. During the timeout, Karakhanyan repeatedly blinked and wiped the eye but ultimately elected to continue.
Palmer was busier on the restart, kicking the legs and mixing up his striking attacks. But Karakhanyan was happy to answer back, nearly scoring an incredible spinning high kick in the closing moments of the round.
In the second, it was Karakhanyan who accidentally poked his opponent’s eye, though the stoppage was much shorter in duration. Palmer scored a takedown shortly after, but Karakhanyan was quick to nearly turn it into an armbar before eventually getting himself back to the feet. Palmer stayed with the strategy, bringing the fight again to the canvas, where he finished the frame, though Karakhanyan was active underneath.
Palmer kept his pace high in the third, and he was able to match his opponent in the striking department. Midway through the round, he pushed an off-balance Karakhanyan to the floor and moved to his opponent’s back. Karakhanyan defended well and eventually turned into the hold. Then, in an impressive transition, he wrapped his arm around the neck and locked in a guillotine choke attempt, rolling over again to squeeze the hold and earn the tap with 20 seconds remaining in the round.
“Lance Palmer is a great fighter,” Karakhanyan said after the win. “He comes from a good wrestling background. My coach, Romie Aram told me to keep it standing and pick him apart, but Lance was trying to drag me down. It was a very tough fight, but if I put that guillotine on you, I don’t care who you are, you’re tapping.”
In the night’s co-feature, Jesse Taylor (27-9) was dominant in a three-round decision win over Elvis Mutapcic (13-3) and will now face David Branch for World Series of Fighting’s inaugural middleweight title.
Taylor took the fight immediately to the floor in the opening round and swarmed his opponent with ground-and-pound blows. Taylor sliced open his foe with vicious work and continually looked for potential submission opportunities or improved positions.
Taylor pushed in quickly again in the second, and though Mutapcic was ready with a guillotine attempt, his opponent popped his head free and again set up in top position. Mutapcic earned a reprieve when the action stalled, but as he pushed in and went for an arm-triangle choke, Taylor simply rolled over and swept to the top.
The final round was a carbon copy of the first two, as Taylor overwhelmed Mutapcic with superior wrestling skills and shut down any sort of counter attack before it became a real threat, and he was awarded the fight with scores of 30-27 on all three cards.
“Elvis is a tough, standup guy,” Taylor said. “I wanted to ensure the win.
“The belt’s going to be mine, I assure you that. The belt’s mine.”
Inspirational congenital amputee Nick Newell (11-0) kept his record perfect, tapping out Sabah Fadai (7-3) in picking up his 10th first-round stoppage win.
Newell looked to strike in the early going, as he established range with his opponent. He earned a takedown in the opening minute, snatching a single-leg and sweeping out the other. Fadai immediately scrambled back to his feet, but Newell followed and latched in a standing guillotine choke. The hold was tight, and Newell squeezed until he got the tap just 81 seconds into the fight.
Following the win, Newell – who now boasts back-to-back submission wins under the World Series of Fighting banner – angled for a shot at the winner of the World Series of Fighting 8 lightweight title fight between Justin Gaethje and “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez.
“I think you know there’s a vacant belt out there,” Newell said. “We’ve got two guys fighting for it, and I think everybody knows who’s next.”
In the evening’s first main-card matchup, light heavyweights Kalib Starnes and Dwayne Lewis went toe-to-toe from the opening bell, happily trading shots in the pocket. Starnes looked to wobble his opponent a few times in the early going, but he couldn’t find the finishing blow.
That changed in the second.
As Starnes continued to establish his rhythm, he turned up the volume and backed Lewis to the cage. From there, he unleashed a barrage of strikes that included a short left elbow that sent Lewis crashing to the canvas 62 seconds into the second round, and the fight was immediately waved off.
Starnes, who has now won four consecutive fights, said his opponent’s vaunted knockout power didn’t exactly live up to its billing.
“I saw a few times when I would let go and he would cover up against the fence, it looked like he was maybe ready to go,” Starnes said. “I heard a lot about his right-hand power. He knocked out a lot of guys. Once I felt it, it wasn’t really as hard as I thought it would be.”
In the night’s featured prelim, welterweight Michael “The Messenger” Hill (6-2) was awarded a TKO win over Richard Arsenault (9-3), albeit in unfortunate fashion.
Arsenault appeared to suffer some type of injury in the opening round, as he took an awkward step and struggled to support his own weight. Hill seized the opportunity and went on the attack, but a gritty Arsenault refused to quit, hanging on until the bell and limping to his corner.
In the second, Arsenault simply couldn’t support the weight, and he fell to the floor early in the frame. Hill backed away and brought him back to the feet, where it was painfully obvious he was unable to properly stay upright. The doctor was brought in to make a call, and while Arsenault insisted he was willing to fight on one leg, it was wisely decided he shouldn’t attempt to do so, and Hill was awarded the TKO win.
In a middleweight battle of British Columbia residents, David “Showtime” Perron (6-2) earned an impressive submission win over Matt “The Riotmaker” Baker (9-5), bringing a huge cheering section to a frenzy.
It was Baker who charged forward from the opening bell, delivering a huge slam and driving Perron to the canvas. Perron scrambled into a guillotine choke, but he couldn’t lock in the hold and was forced to let go. When he did, Baker looked to attack, but Perron transitioned into an immediate triangle choke that forced his opponent to tap at the 1:46 mark of the opening round.
In a 15-minute lightweight affair, late replacement Gabriel Solorio (10-6) survived some early trouble to bounce back for a come-from-behind decision win over Shawn Albrecht (9-6).
Albrecht looked prepared to end the fight in the first, as he took his opponent’s back and searched for the choke. But Solorio patiently worked himself free and then proved the more aggressive fighter over the final two frames.
Albrecht took a knee to the groin late in the third, briefly halting the action. On the restart, he went on the attack, but it was too little, too late, and Solorio was awarded a unanimous-decision win, 29-28 on all three cards.
In a gritty lightweight affair, Myles “The Cowboy” Merola (11-7) grinded out “Dirty” Dan Ring (5-2-1) en route to unanimous-decision win.
After a grappling-heavy opening round, Merola looked to finish the fight in the second frame, as he latched on to a guillotine that seemed to cinch tighter and tighter. Ring kept his composure and was able to break free from the hold, but he would find further trouble as the bout continued.
In the final round, Ring further damaged his chances by landing three short kicks from his back to a kneeling Merola and losing a point for the infraction. At the final bell, Merola was awarded the win, 29-27 on all three judges’ cards.
In the night’s first contest, middleweight Brendan Kornberger (4-0) kept his perfect record intact with a devastating TKO victory over “Mitey” Micah Brakefield (3-2) at 2:45 of round 2.
The taller Brakefield was able to control the pacing in the opening round, but that changed in the second. Kornberger brought the fight to the floor, and a few thunderous elbows stunned Brakefield before a flurry of punches sealed the deal. With Kornberger teeing off with power strikes, Brakefield’s corner threw in the towel, ending the fight at the 2:45 mark of the round.