King Kevin Casey claimed his crown at Friday night’s RFA 15 at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, Calif.
Casey, a world-class grappler and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt, seemed content to test his ever improving stand-up against Sanchez, who isn’t exactly known as a technical striker.
The strategy worked, as Casey landed a couple left hooks followed by a right hook midway through the opening round, putting Sanchez on his back. Casey followed him down and then finished with a few final blows for good measure.
“I definitely felt like if I went with strikes, he wouldn’t be expecting it,” Casey said after the fight, and he seemed to have been correct.
The knockout came on the back of years of effort and improvement, and scored Casey the RFA middleweight championship.
“All the pressure that I’ve gone through and just all the ups and downs, just staying diligent in my pursuit of excellence got me to the title tonight.”
Alan Jouban, another RFA standout, had a tough fight with Ricky Legere Jr. in the night’s co-main event, but once again used his impressive striking to earn the victory.
Legere was able to neutralize Jouban for a good portion of the fight, taking him to the mat and out of his element. Jouban, however, showed improved takedown defensive, keeping the fight on the feet long enough to dazzle the crowd with his vast array of striking techniques.
The third round nailed it for Jouban, who landed a couple of head kicks and nearly put Legere away with an impressive jumping knee just before the final bell.
It was a close fight, but Jouban walked out of the cage with a split decision victory.
RFA 15 Results
Kevin Casey def. Andrew Sanchez by KO at 2:30, R1
Alan Jouban def. Ricky Legere Jr. by Split Dec (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
James Moontasri def. Jordan Rinaldi by KO at 1:14, R2
Sam Toomer def. Daniel Aguiar by DQ (Lack of Engagement) at 4:25, R3
Chinzo Machida def. Dmitry Gerasimov by Unan Dec
Justin Jones def. John Hackleman Jr. by Sub (Guillotine Choke) at 2:01, R1
Justin Linn def. Altair Alencar by TKO (Injury), R1
Rosa Acevedo def. Kyra Batara by Unan Dec
Khalil Rountree def. Livingston Lukow by Unan Dec
Azor Emanoel def. Armen Bakanyan by Unan Dec