Palhares v Fitch - This weekend's most intriguing MMA fight comes from outside the UFC
With two UFC events taking place in the space of 24 hours, you'd be excused for thinking that all other MMA action would be rendered redundant. But try telling that to Rousimar Palhares and Jon Fitch.
At tonight's World Series of Fighting 16, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Palhares puts his welterweight belt on the line against grinding wrestler Fitch and we have absolutely no idea what to expect.
This fight fascinates us on so many levels.
Firstly, both guys are two of the best in the world at 170lb yet both got cut from the UFC, which is the place to be for the sport's elite fighters.
Rousimar Palhares was giving his marching orders by Dana White due to the fact that Palhares was exacerbating his reputation for holding on to submissions for too long after his opponent had tapped.
The Brazilian's go-to submission manoeuvre is the heel-hook, an incredibly painful and undeniably damaging lock on the ankle of an opponent whereby the attacking fighter applies vicious levels of torque on the foot which twists the entire lower leg.
Palhares has, to date, 10 wins by means of that technique which would lead you to believe that his opponents would be able to know what's coming and avoid going to the ground by any means possible.
You'd be wrong.
Palhares seems to batter down any resistance that his opponent puts up and have them tapping before they even know that they're in trouble, such is the excruciating pain.
There is some aspect of the Brazilian's personality, though, that leaves him refusing to let go of the hold until physically pulled apart from his tapping opponent.
The tendency to continue tearing his adversary's ligaments apart is undeniably unsportsmanlike and, when he held the heel hook for too long against Mike Pierce in October 2013, the UFC had had enough and sent Palhares on his way out the door before Ray Sefo and the WSOF picked him up a month later.
The only crime that Palhares' upcoming opponent Jon Fitch ever committed was being too "inactive" in his fights.
Fitch went 14-3-1 with the UFC in an eight-year stint with the promotion. He was almost part of the furniture with the UFC and probably one of the least likely fighters to be cut from the roster if you had asked any fan.
But the fans don't make the decisions. Mr White does and he deemed the wrestler surplus to requirements.
It was unheard of for a fighter who was nothing but a consummate professional to be fired from the UFC just for losing a fight. It normally requires a succession of defeats or a serious fall from grace which was not the case with Fitch. He was perpetually in or around the contender picture.
Dana White explained the cut being based on his opinion that Fitch was not too exciting a fighter to watch and also "super f**king expensive" but the WSOF scraped together that pocket change and signed the American welterweight.
The main area of intrigue ahead of tonight's battle, though, comes by wondering which wins, Fitch's wrestling or Palhares' Jiu Jitsu?
Fitch hasn't won by KO/TKO since 2006 and his boxing is nothing to write home about so it's hard to see him pulling off a win on his feet tonight.
So does he decide to take down the heel-hook machine? It appears that he must use his wrestling if he's not going to outbox the Brazilian but then he puts himself right in Palhares' game. A conundrum indeed.
Perhaps Fitch will try to keep the fight in the clinch where he can use his grinding pressure and dirty boxing to rough up the WSOF welterweight champion.
If that's the case, what does Palhares do? Does he, and can he, take Fitch down to attempt to initiate a sub?
And finally, what happens if Palhares does grab a hold of Fitch's foot and twist? Does he hang on and do serious damage to the challenger?
Whatever happens, we'll be watching!