RFA 9 took place outside at the StubHub Center in Los Angles on Friday night with Pedro Munhoz capturing the promotion’s bantamweight championship, while former Olympian Steve Mocco continued his unbeaten streak.
Munhoz attacked Jeff Curran early, and attacked often, establishing the pace of the fight from the start. He attacked with a wider variety of strikes than Curran, dipping deep into his Muay Thai well, while Curran relied more heavily on his boxing.
Both men are highly adept on the mat, and when the fight did go down, it became a flurry of submission attempts from each, although neither Munhoz or Curran could secure a hold, although Curran came close with a second-round guillotine choke.
Curran was never out of the fight, but Munhoz dictated the pace throughout and made a more lasting impression on the judges with his aggression, powerful blows, and by securing several takedowns. Curran was extremely aggressive fighting from his back on the mat, but relied heavily on countering when the fight was on the feet.
Curran opened a cut over Munhoz’s eye in the final moments of the fight, but it wasn’t enough. In the end, the judges saw the fight in Munhoz’s favor, awarding him a split decision victory and the RFA bantamweight title.
Munhoz may not be hanging around to defend the belt, however, as there is talk that he may have caught the eye of UFC matchmakers. If that is the case, Munhoz is ready.
“I think I’m ready for the next step.”
“Jeff Curran fought the 53rd professional MMA fight tonight in California, losing a decision to undefeated prospect Pedro Munhoz on national television,” said Cox. “It was probably the final fight of his career.”
In the night’s co-main event, Kevin Casey dominated from start to finish, well, almost.
He dominated the middleweight bout with Casey Ryan, outgrappling him from start to finish, and showing some smart boxing in the second round. Ryan nearly pulled out a surprise at the finish, though.
After Casey dominated throughout, Ryan made a last-ditch attempt at an armbar in the waning seconds of the fight, but couldn’t secure it and the clock ran out, Casey exiting the cage with a unanimous decision victory.
The victory was Casey’s first since exiting the UFC, while it was Ryan’s first loss.
Jordan Rinaldi came out strong against Brian Ortega, landing some solid punches and kicks, but it didn’t take long for Ortega to stoke the fire and utilize some of his own firepower.
The two went back and forth throughout the fight, but after Rinaldi took him down in the final round, Ortega worked and worked until he finally secured the fight-ending triangle choke.
Ortega improved to 7-0 with the victory, making him one of the top contenders to RFA featherweight champion Lance Palmer.
For 2008 Olympic wrestler Steve Mocco, it was wash, rinse, repeat, as he continuously took Lew Polley to the mat throughout their three-round bout. Mocco didn’t amass a large amount of damage, but controlled the fight from bell to bell, and chipped away at Polley with a methodical ground and pound attack.
Polley mounted a modicum of offense in the third round, starting a trickle of blood from Mocco’s nose, but it wasn’t enough as Mocco scooped him up and planted him on the mat again as the clock wound down.
Mocco remained undefeated at 3-0 after earning a unanimous nod from the judges.
Chris Spang and Alan Jouban went at each other from the opening bell, Spang outstriking Jouban in the opening round. Jouban turned the tables a bit in round two, wobbling Spang at one point.
Jouban really opened up with his Muay Thai techniques in round three, however, unleashing a furious assault, mixing up his punches, knees, and elbows until the referee had no option but to stop the fight.
Matt Manzanares looked like he might run away with the fight in his battle with Steve Swanson, the younger brother of UFC fighter Cub Swanson, and he did. While Manzanares chopped away at Swanson’s lead leg throughout the fight, the end came on the mat when he got taken down by Swanson, but turned the takedown into an opportunity, snagging an armbar for the quick finish.
It’s interesting to note that RFA 9 took place in an Octagon… yes, an actual eight-sided cage, after company president Ed Soares worked out a licensing agreement with the Zuffa, LLC to become the first non-UFC promotion to utilize an actual Octagon without feeling the juggernaut’s wrath.
“Our goal is to become the developmental organization for the UFC,” said Soares. “I thought it was important for the guys coming up through our organization to start getting the feel for what it’s like in the Octagon. So I worked out a licensing deal.”
RFA 9: Munhoz vs. Curran Results
Main Card Bouts:
-Pedro Munhoz def. Jeff Curran by Split Decision
-Kevin Casey def. Casey Ryan by Unanimous Decision
-Brian Ortega def. Jordan Rinaldi by Submission (Triangle) at 2:29, R3
-Steve Mocco def. Lew Polley by Unanimous Decision
-Alan Jouban def. Chris Spang by TKO (Strikes) at 1:23, R3
-Matt Manzanares def. Steve Swanson by Submission (Armbar) at 3:37, R2
Preliminary Card Bouts:
-Justine Kish def. Christine Stanley by Submission (Armbar) at 4:29, R2
-James Moontasri def. R.J. Clifford by TKO (Strikes) at 2:40, R3
-Perceu Friza def. Nick Jordan by Unanimous Decision
(RFA Octagon photo by Eric Williams)