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RFA 28: Sanchez vs Poppie - Preview

By Matt Frazier | Knuckle Junkies

For the second time this summer, a national MMA promotion will bring a televised event to the area.

On Friday, August 7th, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) will come to town with a card loaded with local talent including main event participant Andrew "El Dirte" Sanchez taking on John Poppie for the vacant RFA Middleweight Title.

With 12 fights on the card, six of those will be televised live on AXS TV with all but one featuring homegrown talent.

While Sanchez now resides in New Jersey, he started his career in St. Louis and quickly rose to the rank of purple belt, winning the IBJJF Pans in the men's purple belt division along the way.

A standout wrestler at McKeendree University in nearby Lebanon, IL, Sanchez quickly tore through the amateur MMA scene before jumping to the pros and ripping off three wins in his first three fights. Despite a loss to Glory Kickboxer Dustin Jacoby in Springfield, IL in his fourth pro fight, Sanchez was snatched up by RFA where he would win two in a row before facing Kevin Casey for the RFA Title a year ago. A loss to Casey, and a win over Clinton Williams, Sanchez now stands at 6-2 as a pro with a 3-1 record in RFA.

The Wisconsin based Poppie (6-1) a wrestler himself, appeared on season 19 of the Ultimate Fighter, but did not make the show. His only loss of his career is to UFC vet Eric "Red" Shaeffer. Poppie rides a four fight win streak into his title fight with Sanchez.

The co-main features Ken Porter taking on Matt Manzanares. Porter (8-2) has built an impressive record for himself fighting primarily for the St. Charles, MO-based Rumble Time Promotions. Porter has competed in a handful of boxing events for the promotion and has yet to taste defeat in four trips to the ring. Porter's speed can be difficult to figure out, and will be a puzzle Manzanares has to solve if he wants to take a win form the hometown kid.

Porter was originally scheduled to take on Geane Herrera , but Herrera got the invite to join the UFC's flyweight division and now Porter will face Matt Manzanares. Manzanares is 3-3 in RFA including a loss to eventual RFA flyweight champ Zach Machovsky in their title fight.

Local featherweight Nick Lobosco will face Landon Vannata. Lobosco's only defeat was to Lance Palmer from Team Alpha Male in the World Series of Fighting. After two fights in a three year period with WSOF, Lobosco asked for and was granted his release. He had a tune-up match earlier this year against a debuting Michael Hardiaman to improve his record to 8-1. Lobosco relies heavily on his wrestling to put his opponent in bad positions, and will have hands full with Vannata from Team Jackson in Albuquerque who is undefeated with four submissions.

Two heavyweights will collide when Curtis Blaydes (4-0) steps into the cage with Justin Frazier (7-2). Arkansas' Frazier nicknamed "The Grizzly Bear" started his career a perfect 5-0 before losing two of his last four.

The "Wolfman" Javon Wright will return after being out of action since last September. Wright is tricky and elusive and could pose some serious challenges for his opponent Thiago Moises an undefeated Brazlian fighter out of Black House.

Local standout Jake "The North County Nightmare" Roberts will take on Chuka Willis. Roberts has submitted every fighter he's faced in eight amateur and four professional fights, and recently relocated to Phoenix, AZ to train alongside Benson Henderson and Joe "Diesel" Riggs at the Lab. Despite an accomplished striking (Golden Gloves National Tournament Qualifier) background, Roberts has only won by submission. He has a nasty guillotine, once he gets a hold of a neck, it's usually over. Willis made a huge splash onto the scene winning his first four fights before getting a fight on the World Series of Fighting. In March Willis defeated Roberts' teammate Travis Draper in an epic display of heart from Draper who refused to give up despite taking a beating on the feet.

A stacked undercard features three compelling pro fights and three ammy fights that will have big implications for the future of six young ammys.

Jimmy Donahue, out of St. Charles MMA, will face Adam Osmoe. Osmoe has spending a lot of time under the wing of UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, and is known for his smothering style and dominating wrestling. Osmoe recently show he has some serious power in his hands with the KO of Raul Rosas in his second pro fight. Osmoe also owns a KO victory over Donahue's teammate Jason Slattery when the two were amateurs. Donahue was an alternate on the World Combat League is a kickboxer by trade, but recently received his blue belt from coach Mike Rogers, a blackbelt under Rodrigo Vaghi.

Promising young middleweight Ty Flores returns to the Chase after his successful pro debut in May in a decision win over Chad Williams. Flores broke Williams' arm with a kick midway through the first round, and eventually won a unanimous decision. Flores faces Missouri Highway Patrolman Colby Tierney who took a break from MMA in 2011 after a loss to Ultimate Fighter vet Mike King. Tierney took time off to pursue his career with the Highway Patrol. Tierney has been seen refereeing MMA fights in Sullivan, MO which may have re-lit his fire to compete. This is probably one of the most even match-ups on the card, and in an informal poll among local experts, this fight is 50/50.

Kicking off the pro card will be Travis Draper and Joey Valadez. Draper is coming off the first loss of his pro career at the hands of Chuka Willis and will be hungry to get back in the win column. Training out of St. Charles MMA alongside Donahue, Draper is a hard-nosed fighter with gritty toughness and stiff punching power. Valadez (1-0) out of Arkansas.

Main Televised Card
Andrew Sanchez vs John Poppie - RFA Middleweight Title
Ken Porter vs Matt Manzanares
Nick Lobosco vs Landon Vannata
Curtis Blaydes vs Justin Frazier
Javon Wright vs Thiago Moises
Chuka Willis vs Jake Roberts

Preliminary Professional Fights
Jimmy Donahue vs Adam Osmoe
Ty Flores vs Colby Tierney
Travis Draper vs Joey Valadez

Preliminary Amateur Fights
Erion Zekthi vs Demetrius Wilson - Spire State Title
Dakota Bush vs Derek Clardy - Spire State Title
Ross Campbell vs Andrew Wiltse

RFA 28: Sanchez vs Poppie
Friday, August 7th
Chase Park Plaza, St. Louis, MO

Guns 'n Hoses 2018 | Thu, November 22nd
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO

Shamrock FC 312 | Sat, December 8th
Ameristar KC, Kansas City, MO

Fight Hard MMA | Sat, December 8th
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO

NFA Fight Before X-mas | Sat, December 15th
Casa Loma Ballroom, St. Louis, MO