World Series of Fighting announced on Tuesday that it will return to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. with a stacked lineup of fights led by a world heavyweight championship showdown between reigning kingpin Blagoy Ivanov (13-1) and Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland (13-1) on Friday, June 17.
In the lightweight (155 pounds) co-main event, superstars Jason “The Kansas City Bandit” High (19-5) and Mike “The Martian” Ricci (11-4) will square off with the number one contender ranking at stake.
“We are looking forward to returning to the great state of Connecticut, and putting on another phenomenal world championship event featuring some of our top superstars, for fans at Foxwoods Resort Casino,” said World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo.
Blagoy Ivanov vs. Josh Copeland
Ivanov of Sulfia, Bulgaria is a 5-foot-11, 29-year-old Judo black belt and Sambo master who has earned 11 of his 13 career MMA wins by way of (T)KO or submission. At the 2008 World Sambo Championships, he made his first big mark in combat sports, defeating all-time great Fedor Emelianenko.
Ivanov made his way to World Series of Fighting after a near-flawless, 8-fight run under the promotion of Bellator, posting an overall, 7-1 record there. He seized the World Series of Fighting heavyweight championship from Smealinho Rama, forcing Rama to tap out from a guillotine choke in the third round (1:17) of their matchup on June 5, 2015, and successfully defended the title for the first time on October 17, scoring a second round (4:33) TKO on Derrick Mehman with a barrage of punches.
Copeland of Denver, Colo. is coming off his World Series of Fighting debut victory, a unanimous decision over Mike “300” Hayes, at WSOF29 on March 12. The 6-foot-1, 33-year-old teammate of undefeated World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje has notched 8 of his 13 career wins, to date, via (T)KO or submission.
Jason High vs. Mike Ricci
Following his near 18-month absence from competition, High of Kansas City, Miss. made his long-awaited return to the cage on November 20 at WSOF25, after signing an exclusive, multi-fight contract with World Series of Fighting, and scored a thunderous, second round (:47) KO on Estevan Payan with a head kick-punches combination.
The 5-foot-9, 34-year-old High, a veteran of the UFC and Strikeforce, initially caught the attention of the MMA world while fighting at an elite level in Japan under the promotion of K-1 and Dream where he faced and defeated the likes of Andre Galvao and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. High also holds a victory over retired phenom Jordan Mein.
Ricci of Montreal, Quebec, Canada reached the final round on the 16th season of the hit competition reality show The Ultimate Fighter.
The 6-foot, 30-year-old member of famed trainer Firas Zahabi’s Tristar Gym fight team is looking for his fourth consecutive win, after defeating the likes of Jorge Gurgel, George Sotiropoulos and Joe Condon, whom Ricci conquered by way of first round (2:41) KO with a head kick at WSOF25.
Additional bouts for the June 17 event are expected to be announced soon.