RFA 12 will feature four undefeated fighters vying for gold in two weight classes as Brian “T-City” Ortega (7-0) faces Keoni “Evil Genius” Koch (5-0) for the vacant featherweight title and Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz (9-0) defends his bantamweight crown against Billy “Crash” Daniels (7-0) on Friday, January 24th at the historic Shrine Auditorium in the heart of Los Angeles, California. The entire main card will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
“I’m excited to announce that there will be two title fights next month at RFA 12 in Los Angeles,” stated Soares. “Brian Ortega will fight Keoni Koch for the vacant featherweight title, while Pedro Munhoz will defend his bantamweight crown against Billy Daniels. On Friday, January 24th, two of them will be leaving as champions and the other two will be leaving with their first loss.”
Earlier this month, Soares announced the headliner of RFA 12, which will pit the newly minted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ortega against Koch, who is the older brother of UFC star Erik Koch. Now RFA 12 has a co-main event that is just as exciting with just as much at stake.
The 27-year-old RFA bantamweight champion Munhoz is a native of São Paulo, Brazil, but now calls Los Angeles home. He fights out of the famed Black House MMA gym alongside UFC greats Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, but also teaches students throughout the L.A. area. Munhoz first burst onto the MMA last year by submitting Bill Kamery at RFA 5. It took Munhoz less than a half a round to submit Kamery via Heel Hook. He followed up that win with a first round Guillotine Choke submission of Mitch Jackson at RFA 8. In August, Munhoz defeated UFC, WEC, and PRIDE veteran Jeff Curran with a five-round decision that made him the inaugural RFA bantamweight champion.
Now the undefeated RFA bantamweight champion and jiu-jitsu black belt is excited about defending his title for the first time back in his adopted hometown.
“It’s going to be fun fighting again in my hometown. I have a lot of friends, students, and family in Los Angeles,” stated Munhoz. “My opponent is young, undefeated as a featherweight, and trains with some really tough guys. He also impressed a lot of people at the TUF 18 tryouts that we were both at, so I know he is a dangerous opponent.”
The 21-year-old Daniels was a standout wrestler in high school and began learning the striking and submission game at age 14. One year after graduating high school, Daniels took his first pro fight and has never lost. Those seven wins took place in the featherweight division and include a win in Showdown Fights, as well as winning and defending the RMFC featherweight title. Last spring, in the middle of cutting weight for his RMFC title defense, Daniels flew out to Las Vegas to tryout for the eighteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Just like Munhoz, he impressed UFC officials at the tryouts, but the show began filming one month before his 21st birthday and they told him to keep working hard.
Training hard in northeastern Utah at Ironclad Training Center, Daniels is now getting ready for the biggest opportunity of his young and promising MMA career and he will look to draw from the experience of his teammate Travis Marx, who just made it to the finals of the Bellator Season 9 bantamweight tournament last month.
“I’m stoked. At first it was a lot to take in, but the higher the risk, the higher the reward. I’m ready to throw all my chips on the table and bring everything I have,” stated Daniels. “It’s an honor to be fighting for the RFA bantamweight title on national TV. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m also happy that Pedro is willing to give me the opportunity to win what he has.”
The main card of RFA 12 will also feature two Los Angeles-based middleweights, who previously competed in the UFC and Strikeforce. “King” Kevin Casey (6-3) will return to the RFA after his successful promotional debut last summer to welcome Eddie Mendez (7-2-1).
Also returning to the RFA at this event, after making successful debut appearances, will be lightweight James Moontasri (5-1), featherweight Perceu Friza (2-0), and bantamweight Zac Chavez (2-0). Moontasri will fight Jonathan Rivera (4-0), Friza will face Boston Salmon (0-0), and Chavez will meet Marcus Kowal (3-1-1).
The preliminary card will also see John Hackleman Jr. (1-0), the son of The Pit founder John Hackleman (trainer of Chuck Liddell and Glover Teixeira) meet Black House MMA representative Howard LaCroix in middleweight action.
The entire main card of RFA 12 – Ortega vs. Koch will be televised live on AXS TV starting at 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT on Friday, January 24th. RFA 12 will be the promotion’s first event on its busy 2014 calendar and will be its second event in the “Golden State” of California. More fights on the RFA 12 main card and preliminary card will be announced soon.