Resurrection Fighting Alliance made its first stop at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday night with RFA 22: Njokuani vs. Smith, which also aired live on AXS TV.
Chidi Njokuani has long been trying to make it to the UFC, but has missed weight on four occasions, including for Friday night’s headlining welterweight title bout against The Ultimate Fighter alum Gilbert Jamal Smith. As such, he was deemed ineligible for the belt before setting foot in the RFA Octagon, while Smith could still have captured the belt with a victory.
Smith opened the fight strong, throwing hands long enough to set up a takedown. The first one was hard-earned, and set the tone for the rest of the fight. Although Smith kept Njokuani on the canvas for much of the opening round, the takedowns would get more and more difficult as the fight wore on.
Njokuani began to get his jab going in the second round, and that set up the wide assortment of kicks that the taller fighter possesses.
Using his length and speed to keep the fight at a comfortable distance for his striking, coupled with stuffing most of Smith’s takedown attempts, allowed Njokuani to run away with the fight for the remaining rounds.
He earned a unanimous nod from the judges, who all scored it 49-46 in Njokuani’s favor. With his foibles on the scale, however, Njokuani left the cage without the RFA welterweight championship.
“I knew Gilbert was gonna come out strong,” said Njokuani after the fight. “So I knew I was gonna have to weather the storm at first and just bring a good fight. I was just hoping that he would slow down.”
Even more egregious than Njokuani weight issue, Mark Dickman weighed in a full 10 pounds over the 145-pound mark for his featherweight co-main event with Donald Sanchez. Having lost 50-percent of his fight purse for the infraction, Dickman tried to make up for it with a minimal amount of time in the cage.
He quickly took Sanchez down and then finished him with a Kimura little more than a minute-and-a-half into the fight.
“I just felt like as soon as I grabbed ahold of him, he wasn’t very strong, so took advantage of it,” Dickman said after the fight, apologizing to the fans for missing weight. “Totally unprofessional on my part. It won’t happen again.”
Njokuani and Dickman are both quality fighters that could be on the UFC’s radar. But even though RFA is known for providing a launching pad to the MMA juggernaut, missing weight to the tune of several pounds doesn’t do a lot to sway the odds in their favor.
UFC veteran Alvin Robinson started quickly, immediately taking Ricky Musgrave to the mat and attacking with submissions. But as Robinson moved from submission to submission, Musgrave attacked with punches and elbows from off of his back.
Robinson gave up position to attempt an armbar, but couldn’t secure it. Musgrave escaped and after a scramble, dropped Robinson with a knee to the body. Musgrave took Robinson’s back and finished with a flurry of punches to the head.
As soon as the referee stopped the fight, however, Robinson immediately began arguing that he was unhurt and the shots were to the back of his head. Several of the blows did appear to land to the back of the head, but Robinson also was unable to provide any defense or improve his position, thus his argument fell on deaf ears, as Musgrave was awarded the TKO stoppage.
Prentice Ingram did a good job keeping Josh Huber at bay early in their fight, utilizing his kicks to maintain his distance on the outside. But as the opening round wore on, Huber began to break down Ingram’s strategy, scoring a big takedown near the end of the frame.
Huber opened the second round with a superman punch and then dumped Ingram to the canvas. A short time later, Huber passed into full mount, eventually forcing Ingram to give up his back and submit to a rear-naked choke.
Dominic Montoya and David Yomi Heredia fought a back-and-forth battle for the full three rounds of their fight, Montoya frequently taking the fight to the mat, trying to negate Heredia’s apparent advantage on the feet. Heredia stymied many of Montoya’s takedowns, however, most notably a huge slam attempt in the second round, and frequently turned the tide when they did hit the mat.
When the judges’ scorecards were read, it was Montoya that was handed a narrow split-decision victory.
Kevin Gray escaped an early guillotine attempt by Joey Eisenbraun and turned the tide. Up against the fence, Gray drove a knee to Eisenbraun’s midsection, latched on with his own guillotine, and fell to the mat with it locked tight for the submission.
RFA 22 Results
Chidi Njokuani def. Gilbert Smith by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Mark Dickman def. Donald Sanchez by Submission (Kimura) at 1:37, R1
Ricky Musgrave def. Alvin Robinson by TKO (Punches) at 3:55, R1
Josh Huber def. Prentice Ingram by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 1:55, R2
Dominic Montoya def. David Yomi Heredia by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Kevin Gray def. Joey Eisenbraun by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 3:49, R1