RFA president Ed Soares on Wednesday announced that due to personal reasons, Jeff Curran was forced to pull out of the RFA 8 main event. Soares also confirmed that Dillard “Smokin’ Joe” Pegg (5-1) has agreed to step up as a late replacement to fight Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis (7-0) for the RFA flyweight title in the main event of RFA 8: Pettis vs. Pegg.
RFA 8 takes place on Friday, June 21st at the historic The Rave / Eagles Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
“It’s unfortunate that Jeff Curran had to pull out of the fight on short notice, but this happens, even at the highest levels of MMA,” said Soares. “As an organization that models itself after the UFC, we had to move forward and find a worthy replacement to give the fans an exciting title fight that is just as compelling as the original bout. Luckily, we were able to find that in ‘Smokin’ Joe’ Pegg. Pegg has finished all four opponents he has faced in 2013 and brings an explosive striking arsenal that will clash well with Sergio Pettis. Pegg is in shape after winning a fight five days ago with a 42-second submission, and like Sergio Pettis, he’s also a second degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. He’s fast, aggressive, and looks for the finish. This is a huge opportunity for Pegg and I believe this is going to be a great main event for the first ever RFA flyweight title.”
Pegg fights out of Amelia, Ohio with Team G-Force MMA. Dillard has a total of six professional fights with three knockouts and two submissions with his most recent submission coming June 7 over Jeremy Pender at Absolute Action MMA. Pegg has been fighting professionally for the past six years. He holds a black belt in Taekwondo and is known for his striking and aggressive fighting style.
“I didn’t hesitate when the RFA called me, because headlining this card and fighting for a title against Sergio Pettis is the chance of a lifetime,” said Pegg. “I expect people to look over me, but they shouldn’t. I’m going to give everything I have on June 21st. I don’t care what your last name is, this is a fight, and you never know what can happen. If I beat Pettis, not only will my confidence be sky high, but it also shows that win on national TV. This is a huge opportunity for my career and I am excited, in shape, and ready to take on Sergio Pettis.”
Tickets are on sale now through www.CageTix.com starting at $35 for General Admission, $60 for VIP Cageside and Balcony seating, and $100 for Front Row seating.
The co-main event of RFA 8 is also a title fight, as RFA featherweight champion Jared “Demon Eyes” Downing (10-1) attempts to defend his title for the first time against four-time All-American wrestler turned undefeated MMA fighter Lance “The Party” Palmer (6-0).
Downing is a standout fighter at Hard Drive MMA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At RFA 1, he defeated TUF 14 alumni Eric Marriott. Three months later, he would fight and defeat highly touted Brazilian prospect Alessandro “Zoio” Ferreira at RFA 2. That win earned Downing a shot at the RFA featherweight title last November as the main event of RFA 5. He gave the unbeaten TUF 15 alum Jordan Rinaldi his first loss in a dominant five-round unanimous decision.
Downing is now ready to defend his title against one of the most talented featherweight prospects in the sport.
“I’m happy that I get to fight Lance, who comes from a great camp like Team Alpha Male. He is a really good wrestler, but he has to bring more to the table in this fight. This will be an exciting fight, but I’m bringing my belt back home to Iowa,” said RFA featherweight champion Downing.
Downing’s stifling wrestling base and relentless cage control will be put to the test against Palmer, who is one of the most decorated wrestlers in Ohio’s state history. His time at wrestling powerhouse St. Edward High School, where he won four state titles, was the centerpiece of the award-winning documentary Pinned. Palmer was also voted one of the “Top 50 Athletes of the Decade” by JJHuddle.com, Ohio’s leading source of high school sports. Palmer went on to become a four-time NCAA Division I All-American in wrestling at The Ohio State University.
The main card of RFA 8: Pettis vs. Pegg will be televised live on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on Friday, June 21. Taking place live from inside The Rave / Eagles Club in Milwaukee, this venue was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. RFA 8 will be the promotion’s first event in the “Badger State” and will kick off a summer of festivities in the “City of Festivals.”