In the night’s co-feature Brazilian striking ace Marlon Moraes (13-4-1) claimed World Series of Fighting’s inaugural bantamweight belt with a five-round destruction of scrappy but outclassed challenger Josh Rettinghouse (10-3).
Rettinghouse came out quick to start, looking to strike, but Moraes dropped him with a well-timed counter. Moraes immediately pounced, looking for the finish, but Rettinghouse cleared his head and reset on the feet. After another quick flurry on the feet, Moraes transitioned to the floor and looked for a rear-naked choke, but Rettinghouse escaped and reversed the position, taking the top and looking to score, Moraes turned for a leg, using the move to get back to the feet.
The two looked content to strike in the second, and Moraes’ sharp leg kicks, coupled with a quick sprawl, left Rettinghouse unable to mount much offense. A late takedown nearly scored for Rettinghouse, but Moraes got back to his feet and scored a flash knockdown with a quick left.
Moraes sharp leg kicks continued to pay dividends in the third, as the crushing blows forced Rettinghouse to change stances and get a bit reckless with his attacks. Rettinghouse looked uncomfortable in southpaw, switching back to orthodox, and Moraes continued to decimate the left leg. Rettinghouse buckled in the final minute, and Moraes battered him with knees to the body.
Moraes went straight to the leg to open the fourth, and Rettinghouse willingly sat down to avoid standing. Moraes initially shows willingness to engage on the floor but then realized the need to back away. Rettinghouse was forced to butt scoot for any sort of offense, even falling to the floor when his own successful kick proved painful. Rettinghouse showed heart, refusing to quit, and referee Jason Herzog allowed the odd action to carry on.
Rettinghouse somehow pushed forward to open the final round, but the change in momentum simply wasn’t going to happen. Moraes’ leg kicks, although perhaps too infrequent in nature, continued to batter his opponent. Rettinghouse tried desperately to find any chance of a miraculous comeback, but Moraes was simply too much and cruised to a decision win, 50-44 on all three cards, to claim the belt.