On Friday, Dec. 5, Resurrection Fighting Alliance headed to Costa Mesa, Calif. for its 21st event. The promotion visited the the OC Fair & Event Center in Orange County. The night’s main card aired live on AXS TV beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
In the night’s main event, the promotion crowned a new lightweight champion as WKBC Muay Thai world champion Mehdi Baghdad took on Zach Juusola. France’s Baghdad made a huge statement in his RFA debut in September, stopping Evan DeLong with a violent, first-round stoppage. The striking specialist had spent time in Brazil and had amassed 10 wins inside the cage. Juusola, meanwhile, had put together 10 wins in 12 career fights, including back-to-back finishes under the Driller Promotions banner.
The co-main event of the evening featured a bantamweight duel between Orange County’s Joe Murphy and Brazil’s Bruno Frazatto. Murphy is a WSOF veteran who carried a 7-1 record. Five of his seven wins had come via submission. Frazatto, meanwhile, also had tasted defeat just once in his career. Like his opponent, four of his six wins had come on the ground, including his first-round destruction of Cory Galloway at RFA 17.
Also on the card was a featherweight contest between Altair Alencar and undefeated RFA veteran Sam Toomer, a middleweight bout featuring Francisco “Kiko” France and Paraguay’s Mikey Gomez, a heavyweight collision between UFC vet Chase Gormley and the undefeated Dale Sopi, and a 190-pound battle between Blake Troop and Khalil Rountree.
Mehdi Baghdad used his Muay Thai expertise to capture the vacant RFA lightweight title. The striking gap was very evident from the start. Zach Juusola was aware of this and tried with all his might to get this fight to the ground. Baghdad was able to stop most of Juusola’s shots while he punished his legs. The majority of the second frame was spent with Juusola riding Baghdad’s back against the cage. The fight turned into a striking contest after Jussola was unsuccessful with his wrestling-heavy game plan, and Baghdad won it with a pinpoint elbow that knocked Juusola out.
Joe Murphy picked up his first career TKO win in front of his hometown when referee Herb Dean called a stop to the contest. Murphy used slick footwork to catch Brazilian Bruno Frazatto with a perfectly placed uppercut. Once he had Frazatto reeling, Murphy showed his killer instinct and finished the fight with vicious ground-and-pound.
Chase Gormley used a well-balanced attack to cruise to a unanimous decision win over heavy puncher Dale Sopi. Sopi found some success with his striking early in the fight, but Gormley’s wrestling proved to be too much for him to overcome throughout three rounds. Gormley used his striking to set up takedowns and Sopi could not shake him off once the fight hit the mat.
Jiu-jitsu ace Francisco “Kiko” France made quick work of late replacement Mike Gomez. France dropped Gomez with an overhand right. Once on the ground, it was all France, as he secured an arm-triangle choke that put Gomez’s lights out.
The fight between Altair Alencar and Sam Toomer was a tough one to score. Alencar said he had the grappling advantage, and he wasted no time in implementing his game plan for most of the first round. Toomer landed a nice knee while Alencar was coming in for a takedown, easily the most significant strike of the opening frame. Alencar worked in some leg kicks early in the second. He hurt Toomer against the cage but decided to drop for a single instead of following up with strikes. Quickly, in the third round, Alencar got Toomer on his back. Toomer had a late resurgence against a gassed Alencar, though, and that won him the fight in the judges’ eyes.
Blake Troop and Khalil Rountree came out a little timid to start the evening’s main card. Rountree attacked first and caught Troop with a flush left hook that dropped Troop. Referee Mike Beltran stepped in to save Troop from further punishment.