|First LFA appearance in Minnesota loaded with elite matchups|
|Written by Ben Pherson|
|Thursday, 19 January 2017 11:07|
Legacy Fighting Alliance is set to make its first appearance in Minnesota on Friday night at Mystic Lake Casino.
LFA 2 starts at 5:30 p.m. sharp on Friday at Mystic Lake, and the main event features Minnesota's own Mike "The Marine" Richman taking on rising prospect Lazar Stojadinovic. Many of Minnesota's top prospects also are in action.
Tickets will be available at the door, and they start at $35. The main card, which starts at 8 p.m., with be broadcast live on AXS-TV.
Minnesota MMA News caught up with matchmaker Jeremy Bjornberg this week to get his thoughts on each LFA 2 matchup. We also brought back our favorite fight predictor, the anonymous Hawkeye Fighter, to give us his thoughts and predictions for each bout.
PRO MAIN CARD (AXS-TV, 8 p.m.)
LAZAR STOJADINOVIC VS. MIKE RICHMAN
Records: Stojadinovic is 11-5, while Richman is 18-6.
Ranking: Richman is unranked (due to suspension), and Stojadinovic is from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "What a main event. I don't even know what to say, I just want to watch it. Richman has done all the right things leading up to this fight after having two years off due to his suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Not many dudes in this sport hit harder than Mike Richman. He's improved in
other areas, too, especially in his takedown offense. But he's always been the type of fighter who will take your head off. Lazar is a perfect matchup too. He's with a legit camp at ATT, and he's certainly a rising prospect. He has a great boxing background, and his striking is very sharp. If he stands and trades with Richman, this is the fight of the year."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Richman, first-round KO. That's all she wrote homey.
DARRICK MINNER VS. CHICO CAMUS
Records: Minner is 17-5, while Camus is 16-7.
Ranking: Both are from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Everyone knows and loves Chico, but Darrick Minner I feel is very close to getting that call for a title shot or the UFC. He's a gamer, very tough in all areas. Chico has that great wrestling background, and he just wears guys down. He smothers you."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Upset central, Minner by second-round sub. That's my dude.
DAMION HILL VS. BEN NEUMANN
Records: Hill is 12-5, while Neumann is 11-4.
Ranking: Hill is No. 4 at 155, while Neumann is No. 5 at 170.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "This is a fight Damion and his camp asked for, and Damion is coming up to 170 for it. He didn't need to cut a thing for this fight. He's a kid who can really make 145, and he's a stud at that weight. I guess we will find out if being up this far will hurt him. Damion is a fantastic striker with a wrestling background. He's always been a fan favorite. But The Baker continues to progress. I feel like his game is just light years ahead of where it was a few years ago. Everyone thinks he's just a grappler, but he's improved all over. He doesn't make mistakes, and he's learned how to play to his strengths."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Toughest fight for me to pick. Love me some Ben Neumann, but Damion I think wins a decision.
MATTHEW MARSH VS. BOBBY LEE
Records: Marsh is 4-1, Lee is 5-0.
Ranking: Lee is No. 2 at 155, while Marsh is from out of a state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Another good one, Bobby Lee is going to get a test. Bobby was just named Minnesota's fighter of the year, and rightfully so. He's got loads of talent, and we continue to watch him evolve. Bobby is a great wrestler, but he's also a fun striker to watch who usually tries something awesome in there, some kind of wild strike. Marsh has a great ground game. He's from North Dakota and has been at ACA for quite a while."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Can't go against my dude Bobby. I think this goes the distance, tho, with Bobby Lee winning a unanimous decision.
BRANDON JENKINS VS. BILLY CHRISTIANSON
Records: Jenkins is 9-4, while Christianson is 12-6.
Ranking: Jenkins is No. 6 at 155, while Christianson is No. 7
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Might be my favorite fight on the card. Two bangers, two dudes with great chins. It just has fight of the night written all over it, to use a cliche. Jenkins seems to do better after he gets hit a few times. He's pretty much impossible to finish, and he's very crafty on the ground. Billy's ground game has improved a ton since he started at Spartan. He's always hit like a ton of bricks, but now he's adding the ground game in there. He also has a wrestling background, so he's dangerous all over. Pumped to see this one."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Grab ya popcorn, Imma pray this one goes the distance, but two bangers is tough ... I'll go Billy by third-round TKO.
LLOYD MCKINNEY VS. MITCH WHITE
Records: McKinney is 9-4, White is 2-1.
Ranking: White is ranked No. 4 at 135, while McKinney is No. 7
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Sick fight, I expect fireworks. McKinney was another kid who was one of our best prospects years ago, but he had some personal issues that took him away from MMA. Now he's back, he's in a better spot, and he looks good. He's training regularly, and he has the skills to go far. But there aren't many better prospects at this weight than Mitch White. He is very good wherever the fight goes. He can submit you or knock you out. The kid is a serious talent. He just finds new ways to win."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Fight of the night here, White wins by third-round TKO.
GABBY ROMERO VS. LINSEY WILLIAMS
Records: Romero is 0-0, while Williams is making her pro debut.
Ranking: Williams is No. 2 in the women's rankings, while Romero is from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Great, tough pro debut for Linsey. Romero is another fighter who comes to us highly recommended. She's not coming here to lose either. She'll give Linsey a serious test, and she's tough to finish, I know that. Linsey has been on a steady progression. And the timing was right for her to turn pro. She obviously does a lot of work with her boyfriend, fellow pro Dan Moret. Linsey is one of the hardest-working fighters I know, so I'm sure she will be ready."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Williams grinds out a decision win.
CHRIS MICKLE VS. BEN LOCKEN
Records: Mickle is 33-21, while Locken is 6-4.
Ranking: Mickle is from out of state, while Locken is unranked.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Ben is a good wrestler, and he's very strong for 155. He's a great dude, always a pleasure to work with. Mickle is another tough dude, always willing to step up and face tough guys. He's got that Iowa mentality, a brawler, never afraid of anyone."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: I'm going with a mild upset here, taking my boy Mickle to win by third-round TKO.
SEAN STRUBE VS. KAZIM KHAN
Records: Strube is 7-1, while Khan is 5-1.
Ranking: Strube is ranked No. 8 at 135, while Khan is unranked.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Love this fight, so pumped to have Khan back in the mix. He was one of our better prospects before injuries derailed things a bit for him. He's back healthy now, been working hard at the Academy. Khan's ground game is legit, and he's got some striking too. This will be a big step up for Sean. He wants to go pro, and this is exactly the kind of test he needs before that. Sean has a well-rounded game, too. Think this one has fight of the night potential."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Strube is one of my fav dudes to watch, puts on a show. But going with Khan by second-round sub.
PHILLIP ROWLAND VS. CALYN HULL
Records: Rowland is 5-0, while Hull is 3-0.
Ranking: Rowland is from out of state, while Hull is ranked No. 3 at heavyweight.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Calyn Hull is another Division I wrestler (Wisconsin), and he comes from a great wrestling family. He was super green that first fight, but his second two fights he's looked fantastic. But this will be the best guy he's faced by far. Hull is our heavyweight amateur champ, but he's going to get a serious challenge this time. Rowland is a stud, a great athlete and just very good all over. He has a ground game, too, so Hull will need to be careful if he decides he wants this one on the ground. Two big guys who are legit athletes and can move, it won't get much better than this."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Hull gonna get hit hard, gonna get tested, but I think he grinds out a decision win.
BRAD PITAN VS. VANYU XIONG
Records: Pitan is 1-1, while Xiong is 2-0.
Ranking: Both are unranked.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Vanyu is a guy the fighters at Spartan Martial Arts have talked about for a while. He's got some dangerous striking skills, and I know his ground game is improving. He is a good kickboxer, Muay Thai guy, and he is not afraid to stand and bang. He's not a brawler, more technical than anything. But man is he fun to watch. Brad, you know, he's another tough kid. I wouldn't say he's awesome anywhere, but he just loves to fight. Good chin, willing to stand and trade, should set up to be a sick fight."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Come on bro, Vanyu, gotta support my boy. Second-round TKO.
YAMAH SADOZAI VS. RYAN SCHAFER
Records: Sadozai is 2-1, while Schafer is 1-1.
Ranking: Sadozai is unranked and Schafer is from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Yamah is another one of these good upcoming prospects we have in Minnesota. He's still green, still learning, but he's working hard and he's doing everything right. I think we'll see him continue to progress and really turn into something special. He'll definitely get a test here, though. Schaeffer is 1-1 I think, but he's better than that record indicates. Should be a great test for Yamah."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Sadozai gets a push but wins a decision.
DAVID GUNN VS. ALEXANDER BROWN
Records: Gunn is 1-0, Brown is 2-0.
Ranking: Gunn is from out of state, and Brown is unranked.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Brown was very impressive in his debut for us, taking out a tough young kid from Minnesota. He's a cop and I know he's trained quite awhile in other martial arts. Brown is just a fun guy to be around, and it's great seeing him do so well early in his MMA career. Gunn is another kid I don't know a ton about, but he comes to us highly recommended. Again, he's a guy who knows he's getting a tough opponent, but I think this is a very good fight. They should be even."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Brown gets 'er done, second-round TKO.
ADAM VALCOURT VS. JOEL BAUMAN
Records: Valcourt is 3-1, Bauman is 2-0.
Ranking: Bauman is ranked No. 7 at 185, while Valcourt is from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "I'm kind of excited to see Valcourt get in there. He stepped up big time, knew he was taking on a tough guy and he didn't blink at it. We always love guys who take that attitude. His coaches are very confident in his abilities. With Joel Bauman, obviously you're going to see a Division I wrestler (Minnesota) and a supreme athlete. He's still very new to MMA, and you saw him feeling things out a bit in his first fight with us. Obviously the talent is there and the sky is the limit for him. If he sticks with it and continues to progress, he's going to be an elite pro."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: I know Valcourt a bit. Tough dude, but he ain't beating Bauman (yet). Bauman by third-round TKO.
BEN ROSS VS. JASON WONG
Records: Ross is 6-1, Wong is 5-2.
Ranking: Ross is ranked No. 10 at 170, while Wong is unranked.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "I love this fight. Ross is a tough kid, and he's really improved since he started fighting. Watching his first few fights, he's amazing how much he's grown and his game has evolved. Jason Wong has always been one of my favorite guys to watch. He's pretty solid everywhere, good on his feet and good on the ground. This is a tough opponent for him, but Jason always rises to the occasion."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Wong is that gamer dude, but Ross gets a W, second-round submission.
BRI BRASSAW VS. HELEN PERALTA
Records: Brassaw 3-3, Peralta 3-1.
Ranking: Both are from out of state.
Bjornberg's thoughts: "Bri is a tough girl; she has stepped up and faced some elite competition and she's held her own. She's pretty well-rounded. I don't know a ton about Helen, but she comes highly recommended. I think this is a perfect way to kick off the show."
Hawkeye fighter prediction: Bri is a tough chick, but I gotta go with Peralta by split decision.
Friday, Mystic Lake
PRO MAIN CARD (AXS-TV, 8 p.m.)
145 — Lazar Stojadinivoc (11-5) vs Mike Richman (18-6)
135 — Darrick Minner (17-5) vs Chico Camus (16-7)
170 — Damion Hill (12-5) vs Ben Neumann (11-4)
155 — Matthew Marsh (4-1) vs Bobby Lee (5-0)
155 — Brandon Jenkins (9-4) vs Billy Christianson (12-6)
135 — Lloyd Mckinney (9-4) vs Mitch White (2-1)
115 — Gabby Romero (0-1) vs Linsey Williams (0-0)
155 — Chris Mickle (33-21) vs Ben Locken (6-4)
AMATEUR MAIN CARD
135 — Sean Strube (7-1) vs Kazim Khan (5-1)
265 — Phillip Rowland (5-0) vs Calyn Hull (3-0)
145 — Brad Pitan (1-1) vs Vanyu Xiong (2-0)
165 — Yamah Sadozai (2-1) vs Ryan Schafer (1-1)
205 — David Gunn (1-0) vs Alexander Brown (2-0)
180 — Adam Valcourt (3-1) vs Joel Bauman (2-0)
170 — Ben Ross (6-1) vs Jason Wong (5-2)
125 — Bri Brassaw (3-3) vs Helen Peralta (3-1)