Episode 8: Watch LFA: It lives up to the hype

Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA)—the merger of the two regional MMA promotions, Legacy Fighting Championships and Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA)—launched their first event on January 13, and I was lucky as hell to be there.

Michael Schiavello and Pat Miletich going live
Michael Schiavello and Pat Miletich going live.

You can hear my impressions of the event and a few interviews on the podcast at the bottom of this post (and on iTunes, Stitcher, and GooglePlay).

LFA head Ed Soares, the former head of RFA, told me that he wants the new LFA to be the top feeder organization for the UFC. “We’re the premier developmental organization,” he said. “There’s nobody out there doing 30 shows a year other than the UFC and Bellator.”

LFA does, indeed, have 30 shows planned for 2017, including LFA 2, which airs on AXS TONIGHT. Soares is smooth, and he has solid talking points about LFA that he rolls out as easily as he exhales. LFA’s social media is also really active and full of dramatic promises.

It feels like a lot of hype.

But the thing is, it looks like they can back it up.

calvillo finishes stewart in ground and pound, round 3
Calvillo finishes Stewart in Round 3 ground and pound

LFA 1 in Dallas was a glorious night of fights. There were some spectacular finishes and some battles that ended in split decisions. I had a great time watching a scrappy new 115-pound female fighter, Cynthia Calvillo, now 3–0. Calvillo, who I hadn’t heard of but who trains at  Alpha Male, dominated a more experienced opponent, Montana Stewart (now 6–4), for two rounds and then finished her in a ground and pound in round 3.

The main event was a bantamweight title unification bout between Leandro Higo, RFA champ, and Steven Peterson, the final Legacy Fighting Championships title holder. Both fighters were on lengthy winning streaks, and they put on a show. Higo apparently had to shave his head to make weight, but he didn’t seem tired. He controlled most rounds, nearly knocking Peterson out a few times. Peterson is a tough fucker, though, and he wouldn’t stay down.

bloodied peterson faces higo in round 5
A bloodied Peterson faces Higo in Round 5.

Peterson got Higo in a couple of near submissions over the course of the fight, including a standing rear naked choke attempt in round 3 that felt like it lasted forever.

Peterson bled all over the place but refused to give up and fought Higo to the final bell. The crowd fell in love with both of them, and Higo was awarded the first LFA bantamweight title. I can’t wait to see the next fights these guys have lined up.

Soares isn’t pitching only to viewers, though. He wants fighters to love LFA, too. He told me,  “We’re the most fighter-friendly organization out there. We develop the guys, build them up, get them ready to go up into the bigs, and we let ‘em go. It’s really a true developmental organization, and if people really want to pay attention to what’s going on in the sport and see what’s next, like our slogan says, the LFA is where the future is now.”

Backstage, LFA staff keep on eye on the whole event.
Backstage, LFA staff keep on eye on the whole event.

So far, the hype is not just hype. I’ll happily watch that Higo/Peterson fight again five times before I spend a minute watching Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen strut around Bellator’s cage this weekend, for fuck’s sake.

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One comment

  1. In last nights event, 1/20, a ref gave a fighter a warning about heel kicks to the kidney. After the round, he went and warned the fighter again about it. I thought the unified rules as of this year state that it is now a legal move; I think I’m correct and the ref was mistaken.

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