Resurrection Fighting Alliance on Friday night landed in Denver for the first time, partnering with regional promotion, Ring of Fire, at the 1stBank Center for RFA 7: Thatch vs. Rhodes.
The night’s main event featured top welterweight prospects Brandon Thatch and Mike Rhodes.
Thatch – an extremely popular fighter in Denver and a training partner of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre – started chopping away at Rhodes with kicks, but the Roufusport fighter scored a well-timed takedown.
Thatch then turned the tables, taking top position in Rhodes’ half guard and started pummeling him with punches and elbows. He soon passed to side control and then took Rhodes’ back, sinking in a rear naked choke for the finish just over two minutes into the fight.
“This is my city man. Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” barked Thatch after the win.
Thatch has been one of most highly touted welterweights not designated a UFC fighter, but Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, he’s ready for the phone call whenever you are.
“You’re not a big dog until you’re in the UFC,” said Thatch. “So when they’ll have me, I’d love to go.”
Jeremy Kimball’s approach to Chidi Njokuani in the co-main event was obvious from the bell: rush him and put him on the mat, which he did. Njokuani, however, did quite well once the fight was on the floor, controlling position and taking most of Kimball’s weapons away.
Things worked out much better for Kimball in round two, however, as he put Njokuani to the mat, took his back, and sank in the fight-ending rear naked choke.
The loss made Njokuani 0-2 in Denver, while Kimball pulled out the upset and improved his record to 9-3, making him a fighter to watch.
“It was the most adversity I’ve ever had to go through in a fight,” said Kimball of this being the biggest fight of his career. He does have his sights set even higher though. “I want that RFA title.”
American Top Team fighter Mirsad Bektic made his trip to Denver a quick one. He immediately planted local standout Nick Macias on the mat and proceeded to jack hammer right hands to his face until referee Tom Johnson called a halt to the fight.
Local fan favorite Vinnie Lopez threw everything he had at New Mexico’s Billy Colon – knees, kicks, jaw rattling punches – but couldn’t put him away. Colon’s chin saved him over and over until the third round when the fight hit the mat. Colon, fighting off of his back, grabbed one of Lopez’s arms. Colon’s toes were caught up in the fence, so referee Don Thais pulled them free, giving Colon all the leverage he needed to lock out the armbar for the tap and the win.
It didn’t take Tommy Thompson long to secure victory, upping his spotless record to 5-0. Joey Banks opened with some high-flying maneuvers, but quickly paid for them. He looked to be launching a superman punch, but left himself wide open. Thompson shot a right hand straight up the pipe, laying Banks out a mere 20 seconds into the fight.
Danny Mainus and Zac Chavez got the crowd fired up in the main card opener with a ground and pound version of Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar I. Chavez, covered in blood at the end of the fight, walked away with the split decision and a cadre of enthralled fans.
RFA 7: Thatch vs. Rhodes Official Results:
Main Card (on AXS TV):
-Brandon Thatch def. Mike Rhodes by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:22, R1
-Jeremy Kimball def. Chidi Njokuani by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:51, R2
-Mirsad Bektic def. Nick Macias by TKO (Punches) at 1:57, R1
-Billy Colon def. Vinnie Lopez by Submission (Armbar) at 1:12, R3
-Tommy Thompson def. Joey Banks by Knockout (Punch) at 0:20, R1
-Zac Chavez def. Danny Mainus by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
-Allen Washington def. Jose Keven Hernandez (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
-Gina Begley def. Shannon Culpepper by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:51, R2
-Carlos Huerta def. Jason Huntley by (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Jared Deaguero def. William Gravely by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Josh Smith def. Toby Lopez by Submission (Calf Crusher) at 0:59, R1