WSOF 34 kicks off with four military vets in action
World Series of Fighting announced that it has tabbed four military veterans for action in three different bouts, including one that will air on its live NBCSN telecast (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT), to kick off it’s “Who’s The Toughest?” program at WSOF34: Foster vs. Shields, at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo. on Saturday, November 12th.
WSOF also announced that Josh Copeland has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled heavyweight matchup with former world champion Smealinho Rama due to a knee injury. Rama will now face Kevin Sears.
World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo:
“We are extremely excited to launch the ‘Who’s The Toughest?’ program with a group of four professional fighters that have served our country valiantly, and who have since been looking for a potentially career-changing opportunity to compete on a major stage.”
World Series of Fighting announced in May that it would be launching “Who’s The Toughest?” in order to provide military veterans who are active or aspiring MMA fighters, with the opportunity to compete under its promotion.
Leading off the live NBCSN telecast of WSOF34, Shane Kruchten and Jeremy Mahon – both U.S. Marine Corps veterans – will do battle in a 150-pound catchweight contest.
In a light heavyweight matchup that will headline the WSOF34 preliminary bout card, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Brandon Collins will collide with Chris Morgan, who will make his professional debut.
The fourth veteran, former U.S. Army ranger Nicoli Navarro, will square off with unbeaten upstart Alan Gutierrez at lightweight.
Shane Kruchten vs. Jeremy Mahon
The 6-foot-1, 32-year-old Kruchten of San Diego, Calif. saw action in the Iraq War in 2003 and 2004, and was subsequently awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and a Combat Action Ribbon for his efforts in battle before retiring from the military with the rank of Lance Corporal.
Since turning professional in 2007, Kruchten has donated a portion of each of his fight purses to the Mighty Oaks Warrior Foundation, a California-based retreat for veterans run by fellow U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former World Series of Fighting competitor Chad Robichaux.
Kruchten’s start will bring an end to a two-and-a-half-year hiatus that he took following a loss to Mike Corey by way of second round (2:59) submission (rear-naked choke) in what was Kruchten’s World Series of Fighting debut. Prior to the defeat, Kruchten had reeled off 11 consecutive victories, 6 via submission and 3 via (T)KO.
The 5-foot-10, 37-year-old Mahon of Houston, Texas was deployed to Iraq during the initial invasion of the country in 2003, and later served as a security contractor in Fallujah, working to procure the safety of civilians there.
Before retiring as a Sergeant, Mahon earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal as well as a Presidential Unit Citation. He runs a non-profit organization, DAWG Foundation, which trains dogs and offers them to veterans in need of everyday assistance.
Mahon is looking to notch his third straight victory following a second round (4:22) TKO (punches) of Davis Sylvester at Bellator 149 on February 19.
Brandon Collins vs. Chris Morgan
The 6-foot-1, 32-year-old Collins of Houston, Texas was also a recipient of a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during his eight-year stint (2004-2012) with the Marine Corps that saw him tour Afghanistan where he was a special operations officer and his unit’s martial arts instructor.
Collins was a member of his North Carolina base’s boxing team and, after relocating to California, he quickly transitioned to MMA.
Morgan, a 6-foot-3, 28-year-old resident of Denver, Colo. will make his first professional start after a three-year amateur career that saw him compile an overall record of 5-2. All 5 of his victories came inside the first round of action via (T)KO or submission.
Nicholi Navarro vs. Alan Gutierrez
The 6-foot, 30-year-old Navarro of Denver served in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regimen, a special operations unit, between 2004 and 2008, eventually reaching the rank of Corporal.
During his four-year tenure in the military, Navarro earned a Combat Infantry Badge, an Expert Infantry Badge and a Parachutist Badge.
Navarro is a student of retired, former Muay Thai world champion and UFC star Duane “Bang” Ludwig. All three of Navarro’s professional victories to date have come by way of (T)KO or submission.
While not a veteran, the 5-foot-11, 23-year-old Gutierrez of Skagit Valley, Wash. was born into and raised by a family of Marines, with his father, mother and brother all having served. Gutierrez dedicates each of his fights to his recently deceased brother.
Gutierrez made quick work of each of his first two professional opponents, to date, submitting Ryan Schecterson with a brabo choke in the first round (2:00) of action in Gutierrez’s professional debut on May 9, 2015, and scoring a first round (1:11) KO (punches) on Taylor Roberts on February 27.
Priced from $20, tickets for “WSOF34: Fitch vs. Shields” are on sale at the Budweiser Events Center box office, budweisereventscenter.com, and by phone at 1-877-544-TIXX.
In the main event of WSOF34, reigning world welterweight champion Jon Fitch will collide with number one contender and fellow decorated star Jake Shields.
In the welterweight co-main event, Paul Bradley will make his promotional debut for World Series of Fighting and take on former top 10 world-ranked Yushin Okami.
Additional matchups for “WSOF34: Fitch vs. Shields” will be announced soon.