On Friday, Jan. 9, Resurrection Fighting Alliance headed to Colorado Springs, Colo., for its 22nd event. The promotion visited the Broadmoor World Arena. The night’s main card aired live on AXS TV.
In the night’s main event, the promotion hoped to crown a new welterweight champion as UFC veteran Gilbert “Jamal” Smith squared off with striking stalwart Chidi Njokuani. Smith was fighting in his own backyard and stepped into the title tilt having won five of his last six fights. The TUF alum was last in action in November at RFA 20, topping Bojan Velickovic. Six of his 10 career wins had come by way of submission. Njokuani, meanwhile, was making his sixth appearance under the RFA banner. The 26-year-old had won six of his last eight fights. He’d stopped eight of his 11 wins by some form of knockout. However, Njokuani missed weight for the title fight and only Smith was eligible to win the belt.
The co-main event of the evening featured a featherweight contest between former RFA title challenger Mark Dickman and Bellator veteran Donald Sanchez. Dickman fell short in conquest for gold, dropping a five-round decision to UFC veteran Justin Lawrence at RFA 17 in August. The loss snapped a four-fight winning streak. Sanchez, a Jackson-Wink MMA product, was entering his 45th career fight. The 30-year-old New Mexico-based fighter had won five of his last six contests leading into his promotional debut.
Cardio. That is what it came down to in the battle between Gilbert Smith and Chidi Njokuani. Smith started the fight strong by getting the fight to the mat, but he could not keep the pace up after the opening round. Njokuani displayed his much-improved takedown defense, stuffing most of Smith’s attempts and picking him apart on the feet for most of the fight en route to a unanimous decision.
Mark Dickman wanted to show off his striking in the co-headliner, but that plan quickly changed. Dickman got a hold of Donald Sanchez early on and took him for a ride towards the mat. Once there, Dickman utilized some slick jiu-jitsu to triangle Sanchez’s head and arm from top position and secure a kimura lock to finish things off.
Alvin Robinson had the fight where he wanted it seconds into the first round. Robinson put Ricky Musgrave in all sorts of trouble when he took him down and threatened with multiple submission attempts. Musgrave proved he is also a veteran and fought off everything Robinson threw at him. Musgrave landed the most significant strike of the fight when he landed a knee that dropped Robinson. Musgrave put the final nails in the coffin with some ground-and-pound.
Prentice Ingram said he wanted to stand with Josh Huber. Two minutes into the fight, though, he realized he wasn’t going to out-strike Huber. Instead, he tried to take the fight to the mat. Unfortunately for Ingram, he did not have much luck in that department either. Huber dominated the ground exchanges and ended the fight with a rear-naked choke.
Dominic Montoya and Yomi Heredia started their fight at a very high pace, especially on the ground where they engaged in some great scrambles. As the fight went on, both fighters understandably slowed down. However, they still went after it. Heredia had the better cardio and found success, especially in the second round when he came close to finishing the fight with some strikes against the cage mixed in with some ground-and-pound. But, in the end, the judges felt Montoya did enough work to earn the unanimous decision.
It was clear early on what Kevin Gray’s game plan was going to be for his fight against Joey Eisenbraun. Gray wasted no time in trying to take this fight to the ground and neutralize Eisenbraun’s stand-up advantage. Gray landed a solid knee to the body that dropped Eisenbraun. Gray went on to secure a guillotine choke while Eisenbraun was still feeling tying to recover.