The Resurrection Fighting Alliance returned to its home away from home at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo., on Friday night for RFA 20: Sanders vs. Mercado, the promotion’s fourth event on the outskirts of Denver.
The RFA has become a strong source of UFC talent, having officially sent 27 fighters on to compete for the MMA juggernaut. If Friday night’s event was any indication, that number will only continue to increase.
The main event featured a semi-title fight between Luke Sanders and Jarred Mercado. The bout was originally slated to be for the RFA bantamweight championship, but that only held true for Sanders after Mercado failed to make weight on Friday.
Going into the bout, if Sanders won, he would get the belt, but if Mercado won, he would not.
It didn’t matter. Sanders likely punched his ticket to the UFC, putting Mercado away in the opening round.
Mercado came out swinging for the fences and looking for the takedown, but Sanders easily defended. He eventually sent Mercado stumbling backwards to the canvas via a knee to the head and then finished rushed in and finished with a few punches that forced the referee to stop the fight.
With the RFA bantamweight belt around his waist and a 9-0 record, Sanders appears primed for a jump to the UFC.
“I’m ready. I’m 9-0. Look at me, I’m a good-looking kid,” Sanders said after the fight. “I deserve it. I’m ready to do it. I look forward to being in the UFC; that’s where I’m headed.”
Ben Smith and Josh Cavan put on a blistering co-main event, each man getting the upper hand at various points throughout the bout, which was much closer than the judges’ scorecards indicated.
At the end of the day, Smith scored his fifth consecutive victory by scoring numerous takedowns and outworking Cavan over the course of the fight, earning a 30-27 score from all three judges.
With the victory, Smith could soon be following Mike “Biggie” Rhodes – the last man to defeat him – to the Octagon.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 alum Gilbert Jamal Smith somehow survived a first-round knockdown via a Bojan Velickovic head kick to win a majority decision in their welterweight feature fight. Smith was stunned in the opening frame, but won the war of attrition in rounds two and three, controlling position. He was also the beneficiary of Velickovic receiving a one-point deduction for grabbing the fence in the second frame.
UFC veteran Alvin Robinson made short work of Fabio Serrao, taking him to the canvas and working position until he sunk in a fight-ending rear naked choke just over three minutes into their fight.
Popular local fighter Cody Mumma continued his quest to make it to the UFC by immediately dropping Colton Vaughn with a hard right hand and finishing with a couple more right hands after they hit the mat.
Boston Salmon kicked off the main card in outstanding fashion with a brutal short elbow to the face that dropped James DeHerrera. He quickly followed him to the mat, finishing in a flurry of punches, not allowing his opponent any opportunity to recover.
RFA 20: Sanders vs. Mercao Results
Luke Sanders def. Jarred Mercado by TKO (Strikes) at 1:06, R1
Ben Smith def. Josh Cavan by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
Gilbert Smith def. Bojan Velickovic by Majority Decision (28-28, 29-27, 30-26), R3
Alvin Robinson def. Fabio Serrao by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:14, R1
Cody Mumma def. Colton Vaughn by TKO (Strikes) at 0:11, R1
Boston Salmon def. James DeHerrera by TKO (Elbow and Punches) at 2:10, R2
Stephanie Skinner def. Kyra Batara by Split Decicision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28), R3
Chris Mierzwiak def. Joe Miles by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 4:25, R3
Joe Guerrero def. Nick Clem by Unanimous Decision, R3