RFA 15 Rocks Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium

RFA 15 at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Culver City
June 6, 2014

It’s hard to find many days in Southern California that do not fit the description “beautiful”. June 6th was no exception as Resurrection Fighting Alliance took hold in Culver City at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium. The excited crowd filed in, ready to witness some of the best professional MMA anywhere. It was going to be a good night!

Armen Bakanyan vs Azor Emandel, 145 lbs
Emandel lands two overhand rights to start the round, a third glances Bakanyan and he shoots, but the attempt is stuffed by Emandel. Emandel is the aggressor and works Bakanyan to the fence, swings and Bakanyan ducks out of the way. They circle around the cage, with Emandel chasing.  Bakanyan uses his jab, but eats a few loud, slapping leg kicks for his efforts. Emandel throws a fast spinning backfist that connects with Bakanyan’s shoulder.Emandel grabs Bakanyan’s head and pulls it in for a knee, which connects. Bakanyan starts to take back the center of the cage as the round ends.
Round two: Bakanyah comes out aggressively, and seeks to establish dominance early, but Emandel is having none of it. He is finding a home for his overhand right again, and wobbles Bakanyan. Bakanyan shoots, but is stuffed. This sequence repeats iteself. Bakanyan clearly needs to get this to the ground, and attempts to pull guard, but Emandel isn’t following him. Finally, Bakanyan gets deep on a single-leg attempt but Emandel gets out again. Just when you think Emandel is relying so much on the overhand right that he’s becoming predicable, he starts landing single straight lefts and leg kicks. There’s a nice exchange in against the cage right in front of the press tables with both guys landing, but soon it is over and they are circling again.
Round three: Bakanyan comes out aggressive this time, possibly sensing that his opponent is getting tired. His attempts to close the distance and land a left are rewarded, but the punches at this point in the right have lost some “pop”. Both guys rush and throw fists, and then escape. Emandel’s dedication to the leg kicks are paying dividends, and each one thrown either punsihes Bakanyan or Bakanyah quickly attempts to throw his leg up to avoid them. Emandel lands a nice hook kick to Bakayan’s face. It elicits a nice reaction from the crowd, but does little to his opponent. It appears Emandel has this fight in the bag, but he doesn’t let off, continuing to throw punches and kicks with force. Bakanyan mounts one last attack as time expires, but his flying knee attempt is easily avoided and the fight ends.
Winner: Azor Emandel, Unanimous Decision

Livingstong Lukow vs. Khalil Rountree, 205 lbs.
Rountree is the faster guy who throws the most power, more aggressively. That being the case, the first round began the way you would expect: after a few moments of circling, with the occasional jab or leg kick thrown, Roundtree landed a punch that knocked Lukow down. Lukow quickly recovered and shot to take Rountree down, which was stuffed, but gave Lukow time. Several times, as they circled around the cage, Rountree would move in and land lefts, causing Lukow to shoot, which would get stuffed. This played out a few times. Kudos for Rountree for showing professional-level restraint, and not rushing in gangbusters, because Lukow appeared outclassed, but still dangerous.
Round two: They are more respectful of each other’s power, but Rountree is getting the better of the exchanges. Lukow is doing a decent job of shooting in and negating Rountree’s offense, but is not attacking enough to win the round, IMO. Rountree tries a leaping punch, but gets caught with a powerful counter punch from Lukow. It breaks his rhythm. This has the effect of building Lukow’s confidence and angering Rountree. The round ends.
Round three: They circle. Lukow attempts to use his length, and throws a few kicks, but is too slow. Rountree counters with a kick of his own that smacks Lukow’s abdomen, and rushes in, only to meet Lukow attempting to take him down again. After bulldogging Rountree against the cage, they separate, and return to circling, coiled and waiting to strike. It’s time for someone to close the show, and it still appears Rountree has the best change of doing that, but Lukow is doing a good job of keeping him at bay with front kick attempts and movement. The round ends without any major strikes landing.
Winner: Khalil Rountree, Unanimous Decision

Rosa Acevedo vs. Kyra Batara, 105 lbs.
Round one: They both come out striking, with Batara landing the first punch, but receiving fairly equally. Batara shoots in and takes Acevedo down. Knee on belly followed by transition to mount, Batara eventually gets Acevedo’s back, hooks in and landing fists, but Acevedo is able to work Batara’s hooks out and get Batara high on her back. Batara works one hook back in and punches, using the punch to try to get her second hook in. As they work against the cage, Acevedo sits up and Batara pulls her back. Batara works to get Acevedo on her belly and tries to sink in a rear-naked choke but Acevedo escapes and in an attempt to reverse, gets caught in a triangle choke/arm bar attempt. Slamming Batara to the map, Acevedo uses her top position to land lefts to Batara’s body. The round ends.
Round two: They come out for the round and Acevedo gets the better of the initial striking. Batara shoots and Acevedo clinches, landing a few nice knees before they get locked up and work for position. Batara at some point gets Acevedo against the cage, attempting a takedown and Acevedo lands some powerful elbows. They go to the mat and it’s Acevedo this time with the advantage, gaining top position and landing strikes from above, several of which appear to the to the back of Batara’s head. The ref doesn’t stop the action, however, and Acevedo ends up below Batara, hooks in and attempting a choke. They fight hands, and Batara attempts to get up and shake Acevedo off. Acevedo lands a few punches but Batara appears to be keeping her composure while working to get out.  They fall back to the mat, and the round ends with Acevedo attempting a choke.
Round three: With the rounds evenly split, the two come out with the fight on the line. Batara pushes Acevedo against the cage and throws knees while they fight hands. Aceveda answers back as they fight for position. The ref separates them and Batara ducks a hook and shoots in on Acevedo, It is Acevedo who gets the better position, high on Batara’s back and working on getting her hooks more secure. Eventually they flip over and Acevedo gets behind Batara, landing short punches to Batara’s face. Batara rotates, so she is facing Acevedo and reverses, getting top position . She slams Acevedo and lands punches, but the round ends. The way the third round went, it would be hard to see the fight going to Batara. Awaiting the judges’ decision…
Winner: Rosa Acevedo
Post-Script: some audience members on the opposite side of the press table are reporting that Acevedo tapped in the first round, but the judge was on the other side and didn’t see it. I wonder if they’ll have the video online…

Justin Linn vs Altair Alencar, 145 lb swing bout
Linn attempts a leg kick without setting it up, and Alencar lets him know that won’t cut it by landing a counter punch. Alencar rushes in, throwing punches and takes Linn down, slamming him to the canvas. Linn attempts a guillotine, but gives up on it and attempts an arm bar but Alencar fights out of it. Linn ends up in Alencar’s guard, and as they worked, Alencar’s knee appeared to dislocate and the fight ended. Linn apologized to Alencar “I’m sorry bro”… no one wants to win that way… Hope for a quick recovery for Alencar.
According to Ref Joey Beltran: “I heard the pop and at first thought it was a shattered cup. Then I looked and saw his knee facing the wrong way. Oh, God!”
Winner: Justin Linn, TKO (injury)

After a delay to set up the TV broadcast, we are ready for the action to resume!

The Main Card (axs TV)
Justin Joes vs. John Hackleman Jr., 185 lbs.
After two exciting pro finishes, and a lineage of MMA royalty, John Hackleman Jr. gets some deserved shine from RFA, as the opening bout on axs TV. His opponent has a mirrored record and looks a bit bigger than 185… Chuck Liddell in attendance to support Hackleman Jr. and is getting a lot of attention himself.
Round one: After a few quick exchanges, Hackleman lands a solid kick to Jones’ abdomen. Jones lands and knocks Hackleman to his back. Hackleman gets Jones in closed guard and Jones works to lock in a guillotine. They separate and exchange. Jones lands another punch, knocking Hackleman back. Joes moves in and puts on a guillotine, getting it this time. Hackleman Jr. goes out. Chuck Liddell is not pleased.
Winner: Justin Jones, Submission (guillotine choke)

Dmitry Gerasimov vs. Chinzo Machida, 145 lbs,
Chinzo carries the Machida name… but Dmitry sports a hell of a beard. We’ll see if that evens things out.
Round one: Dmitry throws a hard leg kick, which Machida checks. Machida makes a move and Dmitry gets away. Another leg kick, this time a little low and the action is paused, but only for a second. There’s lots of kicking from both men. A bit of punching, but really, kicking. Dmitry moves in but eats a right to the face, causing him to grab Machida and pull guard. Machida lets him up. They circle the cage, with Dmitry chasing Machida. Dmitry shoots in and they clinch. They trade position, land knees and separate. Machida takes the dominant position in the stand up this time, and lands a question mark kick to Dmitry’s face. Dmitry waves him in, and throws a Cappoerra kick. They move, kicking, punching and clinching. A very active finish to the round.
Round two: Chinzo is demonstrating some really excellent movement to begin the round, avoiding Dmitry’s strikes and countering with kicks and punches. Dmitry shoots in and jumps on Machida’s back, riding him to the ground. Machida flips around and scrambles, but Dmitry is able to maintain top position and control. Dmirty lands a few solid punches to Machida’s abdomen. Machida initiates another scramble, but this time he escapes. Dmitry stands, moves forward and gets rocked by Machida. Dmitry gets up and continues to move forward, kicking and shooting  in. Dmistry lands a knee to the belly as they get up. Dmitry’s eaten a lot of body shots, and the fatigue is starting to show as the round ends.
Round three: Dmitty, fighting out of nearby Hawthorne, CA has a good contingent of the crowd here for him, and they chant his name as the round starts. I don’t know if it can be credited with helping him, but he is winning the first part of the round, moving forward and striking effectively. That ends with a punch and head kick combo from Marchida, followed by a spinning head kick. As Dmitry moves forward, Machida appears to land a low blow and the action is stopped, but the ref didn’t see it and continues the action immediately. Dmitry shoots in and gets Machida down, but can’t keep him there and they separate. Dmitry keeps moving forward and attacking, and Machida keeps countering. It’s Machida shooting in this time, but Dmitry shuts it down. The round ends with Dmitry shooting in and getting the takedown just before the bell sounds.
Both guys left it all out in the cage.
Winner: Chinzo Machida, Unanimous Decision

Sam Toomer vs. Daniel Aguiar, 145 lbs.
Coming out dancing to “Kung Fu Fighting”, Aguiar is one of the most entertaining fighters in MMA. Once the bell sounds, the mulletted madman moves like a fighter in classic kung fu films, and while entertaining, the man is no joke in the cage. His stand up is improving, but on the ground he is a demon. Toomer is a tall, lanky fighter and uses his range well on the feet. The first round taking place on the feet, both guys moved well, but Toomer seemed to have a slight advantage. It was close. Both guys landed and both guys evaded. Aguiar chased Toomer for most of the round, so that might give him a slight edge in the judges eyes. Toward the end of the round, Toomer started landing and Aguiar attempted to lure him to the ground but Toomer was not tricked into meeting him there, allowing him to stand each time.
Round two: Lots of movement with short bursts of action. Toomer getting the better of the stand-up but Aguiar landing fairly well, using kicks to negate Toomer’s distance advantage. Aguiar attempting to lure Toomer in, to clinch and take him down but failing. In between, Aguiar lanching flying kicks and knees into Toomer. Mostly dodged. At the end of the round, Ref Beltran gathered the fighters and told them they must fight each other. We’ll see if round three produces more action.
Round three: Before the bell, Beltran again brought them together and gave them a talk. It seems to have worked, as Aguiar came out very aggressively. Aguiar throwing kicks with abandon, without worry they’ll be caught and he’ll be taken down. Several times offering his guard to Toomer, but ending up just wiggling his toes at him. Beltran stopped the fight to talk to Aguiar and Aguiar nodded but continued his antics after the action was resumed. After a few attempts to pull guard, Beltran finally took a point away from Aguiar. Once the action again resumed, Toomer pursued Aguiar but backed off every time Aguiar went to the ground. One more attempt to allow Toomer to go to the ground with him, and a refusal to get up once Beltran came to him, and Beltran called the fight.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a good fight. It was a throwback fight. You used to see a lot of this kind of thing after the first UFC events, when you got an influx of guys who were great on the ground but lacking in stand-up and would attempt the same things Aguiar did. It’s not the most entertaining fight to watch, but is interesting as a rare occurrence in modern MMA. I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of this kind of fight anymore. I’m OK with that.
Winner: Sam Toomer, Ref Stoppage

Jordan Rinaldi vs. James Moontasri, 160 lb catchweight
Moontasri looked a little off in the first part of the round, but as the action picked up, seemed to find a rhythm. Rinaldi was effective in the first round at imposing his will, although his many attempts at takedowns rarely gave the desired results. Moontsri rallied late in the round, landing three kicks in a row.
Round two was another story, with Moontasri coming out confident and landing well. After a few quick flurries, an uppercut followed by a hook ended the night for Rinaldi.
Winner: James Moontasri, KO, round two

Ricky Legere Jr. vs. Alan Jouban, 170 lbs.
I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but Ricky Legere Jr. reminds me of Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. Maybe it’s the pink shorts. Not that it means anything, but there it is.
Round one: They’re trading fairly evenly, if sparingly, until Legere takes Jouban down and they scramble. They end up on their feet, with Jouban landing some solid elbows to Legere’s face. Legere answers back, and attempts a takedown. They scramble, strike, clinch and wrestle across the entire length of the cage. Jouban lands a punch, rocking Legere, but Legere uses the momentum of coming back from the punch to grab and take Jouban down. Legere has taken a lot of punishment from Jouban. Legere is a tough guy.
Round two: Jouban is a solid striker, and Legere counters fairly well. This would seem a recipe for disaster for Legere, but Legere lands a magnificent take down and punishes Jouban on the ground. When Jouban goes to stand, with Legere on his back, it looks like bout is close to ending, as Legere seems to have the choke. Jouban shakes Legere off and lands on top. The crowd responds. It gets loud! Eventually, Legere gets up and they trade as the round ends.
Round three: These guys have a lot of respect for each other, earned over two hard-fought rounds, and it shows. They take a while to engage, each moving in for a single strike or quick combo before backing away for the first half of the round. After a while, though, they find their rhythm and land solid combinations, showing their heart and will to fight. Ricky Legere showed a lot of heart this round, absorbing punishing blows from Jouban. Unfortunately, he also had the most opportunity to show heart, as Jouban took the round. Frankly, many around me expressed surprise that Legere was still standing. He’s a solid fighter, and I can’t emphasize how tough he is. He earned his paycheck tonight.
Winner: Alan Jouban, Split Decision

Andrew Sanchez vs. Kevin Casey, 185 lbs. RFA Title Bout (5 rounds)
Casey is like a python on the ground. He’s been one of those guys, that gets ahold of you, is more than strong enough to take you down and either force you to tap, choke you unconscious or pound you out. His weakness was well known—his striking. Well, he’s been working on his striking.
Sanchez provided a tough challenge for Casey. He was strong enough to clinch with Casey and not get taken down, and his striking is solid. He looked like he had Casey in trouble a few times but was unable to pounce, mostly because of Casey’s improvement. Casey was there to answer back and caught Sanchez, followed up and got the knockout.
Note: Ref Joey Beltran, after jumping in to save Sanchez, had to “tap out” on Sanchez’ back, because the dazed fighter was trying to pull him into his guard.
Winner, Champion: Kevin Casey, TKO

What a night of fights! Every single one was entertaining. It was a solid card. Looking forward to the next one!