The World Series of Fighting welterweight title that everyone wanted to see, and everyone thought was going to take place at WSOF 30, has been nixed.
Former UFC title contenders Jon Fitch and Jake Shields, still two of the top 170-pound fighters in the world, were expected to battle for the vacant belt at WSOF 30 in early April, but company president Ray Sefo on Tuesday revealed that they couldn’t put the fight together as planned.
“For the past few months, I have really been looking forward to seeing two of MMA’s best welterweights, Jon Fitch and Jake Shields, meet in the decagon for our vacant 170-pound title. Now, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am to have to tell World Series of Fighting fans this fight will not happen when we had hoped,” Sefo wrote on WSOF.com.
“While I thought everyone was on board to make this fight happen, unfortunately Jake Shields has informed us that he does not intend to honor the terms of his existing contract at this time and declined to sign a bout agreement to fight Jon Fitch, so we’ve had to go in a different direction.
“Fortunately, we found someone on our roster who was willing to step up for this incredible opportunity not only to potentially win a title, but also to face one of MMA’s all-time greats in Jon Fitch. That man is Joao Zeferino.”
Zeferino (20-7) is well-known to WSOF fans that watch the recent eight-man, one-night lightweight tournament in November. He submitted Brian Foster and Jorge Patino to get to the final, but lost via knockout to Foster, who got back into the tournament after injuries forced several other fighters out.
Foster will face lightweight champ Justin Gaethje at WSOF 29, but now Zeferino will also get a crack at a title at welterweight.
Fitch (27-7-1, 1 NC) has fought once before for the WSOF 170-pound strap, losing to Rousimar Palhares. The controversial Brazilian has since been stripped of the belt for multiple transgressions, so now with Shields out of the fight, Fitch will fight Zefernio to fill the vacancy.