Andrei Arlovski (18-9) needed only two minutes and 37 seconds to drop wrestler Devin Cole (20-10-1) with his familiar overhand right for a TKO stoppage win in the World Series of Fighting’s promotional debut at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Cole, 36, couldn’t match Arlovski’s speed and technique on the feet and attempted one takedown on the Belarusian striker a minute into the fray, but the 33-year-old Arlovski regained his footing on the fence and took over the bout in the clinch.
Arlovski, who became the UFC heavyweight champion in 2005, has made small gains in his last four bouts, rebounding from a brutal four-fight drought that nearly ended his career in 2011. Arlovski continues to split his training between Chicago and the famed Jackson-Winkeljohn facility in Albuquerque.
UFC cast-off Anthony Johnson (14-4) knocked out. D.J. Linderman (13-4) with a highlight-reel right hook that sent Linderman face-first into the canvas three minutes and 58 seconds into the first round. Just prior, Johnson had signaled an eye poke coming out of a scramble, but referee Herb Dean wouldn’t halt the bout. Linderman charged right into his demise.
The 28-year-old Johnson, best known for multiple misadventures making 185 pounds during his UFC run (7-4), looked even bigger and stronger at light heavyweight, which stifled Linderman standing and on the ground once Johnson took him down.
Marlon Moraes (9-4-1) earned a career-boosting split decision over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres (40-6), who had a legitimate challenge in his first fight in five years out from under Zuffa’s promotional umbrella. The agile Moraes shocked Torres in the first minute with a knockdown flurry and maintained a swift pace that kept the veteran from landing combinations and takedown attempts throughout. Moraes, 24, is a clear prospect for the promotion; it was announced he’d face Tyson Nam (12-4) in early 2013.
Debuting world champion kickboxer Tyron Spong felled Travis Bartlett (7-3) with a straight right for a stoppage three minutes and 15 seconds into their lopsided main card opener. Spong, 27, used fluid high kicks and body shots to soften the 37-year-old Bartlett, who hadn’t fought since 2010 and was a safe gamble against a kickboxer in transition.
The WSOF negated elbow strikes standing and on the ground during Saturday night’s competition, a common rule modification that attempts to limits severe cuts and bleeding during bouts.