Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) CEO Ed Soares announced recently that the promotion will crown a new middleweight champion in September when the promotion returns to Colorado.
The main event of LFA 22 will feature the top two middleweight prospects in the sport. Colorado’s own Ian “The Hurricane” Heinisch will face Brazilian dynamo and fellow undefeated prospect Markus “Maluko” Perez for the vacant LFA middleweight title. LFA 22 – Heinisch vs. Perez takes place Friday, September 8th at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado.
“LFA will crown a new middleweight champion at LFA 22 in Colorado,” stated Soares. “Ian Heinisch and Markus Perez are the top two middleweight prospects in the sport. On September 8th, only one will walk away with their perfect record intact with the LFA middleweight title wrapped around their waist.”
Heinisch (8-0) received plenty of fanfare when he signed with the LFA earlier this year. This was due to the fact that Heinisch is widely regarded as one of the top middleweight prospects in the world. The two-time Colorado state wrestling champion from Ponderosa High School lived up to media and fans’ lofty expectations, and then some, when he made his highly-anticipated LFA debut in the main event of LFA 10. Heinisch quickly dispatched the well-versed Brazilian powerhouse Lucas Rota in less than a round with a rare Ude-Garami (Keylock) from Kesa-Gatame (Scarf Hold). This positioned him at the front of the line for a title shot. The 29-year-old will now get the opportunity to fight for the vacant LFA middleweight title in front of his home crowd at LFA 22.
Perez (8-0) is perhaps the only middleweight prospect in the world that can match the intrigue surrounding Heinisch. This is due in large part to the fact that Perez has been just as dominant in his native Brazil as Heinisch has been stateside. The man known as “Maluko” will be making his highly-anticipated international MMA debut on the heels of back-to-back wins over UFC veterans Ildemar Alcântara and Paulo Thiago. Those wins saw Perez’s stock as a top prospect skyrocket as Alcântara and Thiago have a combined 20 fights in the UFC between the two of them. The 27-year-old is now eager to showcase his talents outside of Brazil for the first time. He will get that opportunity on September 8th when he fights for the vacant LFA middleweight title.
The co-main event of LFA 22 will feature the farewell fight of one of Colorado’s most beloved and accomplished fighters when Gilbert Smith gets his hands wrapped and throws down one last time in front of his adoring home crowd. The proud Coloradan has enjoyed an MMA career that has seen him reach the highest levels of the sport.
The U.S. Army veteran and Colorado Springs resident competed on two seasons of the UFC’s hit reality television series The Ultimate Fighter. Along with being a memorable cast member on TUF 17 and TUF 25, Smith competed for the UFC and Bellator, as well as both RFA and Legacy FC before the two promotions merged to form LFA at the beginning of the year. During his time with RFA, Smith won the welterweight world title.
The man standing across the Octagon from Smith at LFA 22 will be Andrew Kapel (11-6). Kapel is a longtime friend and teammate of Benjamin Smith, who is the man that Gilbert Smith took the RFA title from two summers ago in the main event of RFA 26. Kapel, like Benjamin Smith, is a student of Greg Nelson at The Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota and will look to exact a bit of revenge in the same building where Gilbert Smith submitted Benjamin Smith. The budding grudge match in Gilbert’s farewell fight has one more layer. Kapel submitted Smith’s teammate Adam Stroup last month in less than a round.
In the always exciting women’s strawweight division, Maycee Barber (1-0) will return to the LFA Octagon against RFA vet and fellow top prospect Mallory Martin (1-1) at LFA 22. Barber burst on to the MMA scene in June with a dominant professional MMA debut at LFA 14. Barber submitted undefeated prospect Itzel Esquivel via armbar in the first round of a bout that took place in her opponent’s hometown. Now Barber will return to the LFA Octagon in her home state. She will face a fellow Coloradan prospect in Martin who is no stranger to the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield. It was in this same venue where Martin submitted the Gilbert Smith trained Melissa Parker via Rear Naked Choke at RFA 34. Now the table is set for a showdown between the top two strawweights in “The Centennial State” as the 19-year-old Barber faces the 23-year-old Martin on the main card of LFA 22.
Currently Announced Main Card:
Main Event | Middleweight Title Bout
– Ian Heinisch (8-0) vs. Markus Perez (8-0)
Co-Main Event | Welterweight Bout
– Gilbert Smith (12-6) vs. Andrew Kapel (11-6)
Women’s Strawweight Bout
– Maycee Barber (1-0) vs. Mallory Martin (1-1)