NBC Sports Group presents World Series of Fighting action on New Year’s Eve, this Saturday, Dec. 31, highlighted by the undefeated Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (16-0) defending his lightweight title against Luiz “Buscape” Firmino (19-7) live at 4 p.m. ET on NBC from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. Coverage on Saturday begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Gaethje is the first – and only – lightweight champion in World Series of Fighting history. He’s won all nine World Series of Fighting bouts, earning eight of those wins by knockout or TKO, including a successful title defense against Nick Newell at WSOF11. Most recently, he downed Luis Palomino at WSOF19 for the second official defense of his belt, and then repeated the feat in a rematch with Palomino at WSOF23. Both fights with Palomino were considered “Fight of the Year” candidates. Gaethje earned the fourth successful defense of his title at March’s WSOF29, where he scored a TKO over Brian Foster in less than two minutes.
Firmino is a Brazilian native who has competed professionally since 2000. He looks to rebound from a loss against Foster at WSOF33. Prior to that loss, he won five straight fights, including a WSOF10 victory over Tyson Griffin and a WSOF6 win over Jacob Volkmann. Firmino also downed former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion Luis Palomino in 2013.
In the co-main event, Jon Fitch (28-7-1) defends his welterweight title against Jake Shields (31-8). Fitch first challenged for the welterweight title in December 2014 (WSOF16), though he suffered a submission loss to then-champ Rousimar Palhares. Fitch then rebounded with an October 2015 win over Yushin Okami (WSOF24) on his way to earn the title against Joao “The Brazilian Samurai” Zeferino in WSOF30.
Saturday’s card also features Yushin “Thunder” Okami (32-10) vs. Paul Bradley (23-6) in a welterweight bout, and Marlon Moraes (16-4) defending his bantamweight title against Josenaldo Silva (25-4).
Action on NBCSN includes a middleweight title fight between champion David Branch (19-3) and Louis Taylor (13-1); Jared Rosholt (14-3) vs. Caio Alencar (9-1) in a heavyweight bout; and Shane Kruchten (11-4) vs. Jeremy Mahon (5-4), fighting at a catchweight of 145 pounds.
Play-by-play announcer Todd Harris will be joined by mixed martial artists and analysts Bas Rutten, Renzo Gracie and Joey Varner to call the action. Two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison joins the telecast as an analyst in her broadcast debut.
World Series of Fighting will be streamed live on NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value for their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. Powered by Playmaker Media, the NBC Sports app is available on Apple iOS, Android and select Samsung devices, as well as on Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Win10, and Xbox.