This year fight fans can celebrate the first day of summer the MMA way, as Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) announced Monday that two titles will be on the line as RFA brings its action-packed, exciting live event to the state of Wisconsin.
RFA 8: Pettis vs. Curran, featuring Milwaukee’s best Sergio Pettis and Chicago’s hope Jeff Curran, takes place Friday, June 21 inside the historic The Rave/Eagles Club Milwaukee, Wisc. The event will also be televised in homes across America live on AXS TV starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
“With two title fights at RFA 8, we are aggressively moving forward with our goal to build RFA as a developmental organization for fighters who want to be in the UFC,” said RFA President Ed Soares.
“At RFA 8 we are introducing a new champion at flyweight with a title fight between rising star Sergio Pettis and UFC veteran Jeff Curran. Also, our featherweight champion Jared Downing will attempt his first title defense against decorated wrestler Lance Palmer. We are excited to bring RFA to Milwaukee and honored to work with AXS TV to present our fights on live national television across the U.S.”
Tickets are on sale now through www.CageTix.com starting at $35 for General Admission, $60 for Balcony, and $100 for Front Row.
The RFA 8 main event will feature Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis (7-0) and Jeff “Big Frog” Curran (33-15-1). The two will square off in a much-anticipated battle for the inaugural RFA flyweight title.
Pettis vs. Curran is a contrast of two fighters who represent entirely separate eras in MMA. Pettis is still a teenager and is widely considered the next big thing at 125 pounds, while Curran is a 50-fight veteran who made his MMA debut when Pettis was only four years old. Pettis is a flashy kickboxer, he is unbeaten in seven pro fights, and has a penchant for delivering devastating knockouts. Curran is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and is the only man ever to fight for the six promotions now owned by Zuffa: UFC, PRIDE, WFA, IFL, WEC, and Strikeforce.
“It’s an honor to be fighting Jeff Curran, because I grew up watching him on TV and I know he’s fought the best in every top MMA organization out there, including former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra,” said Pettis. “It’s awesome knowing that I’m fighting him for the first-ever RFA flyweight title in the main event of the RFA in my home town.”
The tale of the tape shows these two fighters share identical measurements as they both stand five-feet-six-inches tall, weigh 125 pounds and have a 69-inch reach. Living roughly 80 miles apart, they represent a traditional sports rivalry between the cities of Milwaukee and Chicago. The “I-94 Rivalry” will be in full-effect at RFA 8.
Over the course of Curran’s storied career, he has fought the who’s who of MMA in the world’s biggest organizations, but the opportunity to fight Pettis for the RFA flyweight title really intrigues him.
“The chance to fight a young guy like Sergio is really exciting to me,” said Curran. “His pedigree, where he trains, the fact that Anthony Pettis is his big brother, and all of their success is really impressive. I know this will be a fun fight for everyone.”
The co-main event of RFA 8 is also a title fight, as RFA featherweight champion Jared “Demon Eyes” Downing (10-1) attempts to defend his title for the first time against four-time All-American wrestler turned undefeated MMA fighter Lance “The Party” Palmer (5-0).
Downing is a standout fighter at Hard Drive MMA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At RFA 1, he defeated TUF 14 alumni Eric Marriott. Three months later, he would fight and defeat highly touted Brazilian prospect Alessandro “Zoio” Ferreira at RFA 2. That win earned Downing a shot at the RFA featherweight title last November as the main event of RFA 5. He gave the unbeaten TUF 15 alum Jordan Rinaldi his first loss in a dominant five-round unanimous decision.
Downing is now ready to defend his title against one of the most talented featherweight prospects in the sport.
“I’m happy that I get to fight Lance, who comes from a great camp like Team Alpha Male. He is a really good wrestler, but he has to bring more to the table in this fight. This will be an exciting fight, but I’m bringing my belt back home to Iowa,” said RFA featherweight champion Downing.
Downing’s stifling wrestling base and relentless cage control will be put to the test against Palmer, who is one of the most decorated wrestlers in Ohio’s state history. His time at wrestling powerhouse St. Edward High School, where he won four state titles, was the centerpiece of the award-winning documentary Pinned. Palmer was also voted one of the “Top 50 Athletes of the Decade” by JJHuddle.com, Ohio’s leading source of high school sports. Palmer went on to become a four-time NCAA Division I All-American in wrestling at The Ohio State University.
Now Palmer is looking forward to adding the RFA featherweight title to his long list of athletic accolades.
“I don’t know much about Jared Downing, but I have watched tape on him and know he likes to move forward and go hard,” said Palmer. “I’m definitely looking to bring it. It’s going to be a fun fight, but ultimately I’m leaving with the win and the belt.”
RFA 8 will also feature three famous siblings. Along with Sergio Pettis, who is the younger brother of UFC No. 1 featherweight contender Anthony Pettis, RFA 8 will also feature the promotional debut of Keoni Koch (5-0) and Chinzo Machida (1-2). Koch is the older brother of former UFC No. 1 featherweight contender Erik Koch, while Machida is the older brother of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida.
Koch and Machida will be dropping down to their natural weight classes for the first time in their respective careers. Koch will fight Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Pedro Munhoz (7-0) at bantamweight, while the Karate master Machida will face Milwaukee native James Barber (2-0) at featherweight.
Also on the card, hometown favorite and Roufusport standout Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (4-1) battles Wisconsin native and Minnesota Martial Arts Academy representative Ben Smith (6-1) at welterweight. Meanwhile, Smith’s teammate Dan “The Hitman” Moret (4-0) will face local standout Jose Pacheco (7-3) in a featherweight bout.
The main card of RFA 8: Pettis vs. Curran will be televised live on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on Friday, June 21. Taking place live from inside The Rave / Eagles Club in Milwaukee, this venue was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. RFA 8 will be the promotion’s first event in the “Badger State” and will kick off a summer of festivities in the “City of Festivals”.