RFA 44: Freeman vs Moises - Preview
It was just 14 months ago when the nationally touring Resurrection Fighting Alliance paid a visit to St. Louis. On its last trip thru the Gateway City, Andrew Sanchez TKO'd his way to an RFA middleweight title live on AXS-TV.
The win for Sanchez ultimately secured his spot in the Ultimate Fighter house where he went on to be TUF 23's breakout star, winning in the finale and earning a UFC contract.
RFA 44, set for September 30th at the St. Charles Convention Center, will have another championship bout in the main event with a former teammate of Sanchez's, Zach Freeman, looking to snag a shiny, new belt of his own.
Freeman (8-1) has had a whirlwind of a month winning the IBJJF Masters World Championship in the purple belt division which earned him a promotion to brown belt. Two weeks later he married his long-time fiance, and almost immediately after saying his vows, Freeman hopped a plane to the Netherlands for a work trip.
Awaiting Freeman at RFA 44 is Thiago Moises. Moises (8-1) is no stranger to local fight fans, having competed at RFA 28 in St. Louis where he defeated the "Wolfman" Javon Wright. Moises won the vacation RFA lightweight title in February with an incredible helicopter armbar and then defended his belt in June with a fifth round TKO over Jammal Emmers. The bout with Freeman will be his second title defense. Moises is exceptional on the ground, but look for Freeman to have a noticeable size advantage. While Moises excels off his back, Freeman has a great top game and won't be easy to submit.
The "Sensation" Ken Porter (9-2) will have co-main event honors against Nick Urso (8-2). Porter has been on the shelf since RFA 28 when he defeated former RFA flyweight champ Matt Manzanares by split decision. The speedy Porter out of Berger's MMA will have his hands full with Urso out of Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Urso's last trip to the cage in February ended with a no contest and was only his third fight in as many years. Both fighters haven't been real active, it'll be interesting to see who can find their groove first. If Porter gets ahead early, look for him to cruise to a decision.
Freeman's longtime teammate at St. Charles MMA, Josh Sampo, will make his much-anticipated return to fighting. After cruising to an impressive 11-2 record and winning his UFC debut, "The Gremlin" lost his next three to Zach Makovsky, Patrick Holohan and Justin Scoggins before exiting the promotion in May of 2015. Sampo is looking to restart his career and the friendly confines at the St. Charles Convention Center is the perfect spot to stage his rally.
Sampo will face another veteran flyweight in Matt Brown (11-6) who has lost his last two in a row leading into this fight. The two share a common opponent in Sam Thao, with Sampo getting a victory by decision and Brown losing by decision. Brown is well-rounded although not exceptional at any one discipline. He dropped Chico Camus in their fight before losing the eventual decision to the UFC-vet. Sampo should have a sizable advantage in the wrestling department and their striking looks to be pretty even.
Lightweights Adam Osmoe and Zach Fears will face off. Osmoe has drawn comparisons to UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes by RFA commentator and former Hughes coach Pat Miletich. An injury has kept Osmoe out of the cage since last August where he slammed his way out of a triangle en route to a victory, in classic Hughes-style, over Jimmy Donahue. Fears trains under UFC-vet Rich Clementi at the famed Gladiator's Academy in Louisiana and spends time with the team from St. Charles MMA. Fear has won his last two, improving his record to 5-2.
In his first fight since switching camps to SCMMA, Hugh Pulley (6-2) will make his RFA debut against Drakkar Klose (5-0). Pulley is on quite a run, winning Knuckle Junkies' 2015 Pro Fight of the Year award for his win against Eric Irvin at Bellator 138. Pulley followed that up with a stunning first round KO of then-undefeated Grant Dawson at KCFA in February of 2016. The "Wolverine" is strong and athletic, with solid judo, something he used effectively against Irvin to help neutralize any wrestling pressure. Klose, out of the MMA Lab in Phoenix, has not lost in six trips to the cage, the most recent being February in a draw with Josh Aveles. Four of Klose's five wins have come by TKO.
Rounding out the televised main card - and the only bout to not feature St. Louis-area talent - is bantamweight "Beast" Joey Miolla taking on TJ Brown.
Highlighting the undercard, local flyweights Charles Johnson and Matt Murphy will tangle. Johnson was scheduled to compete for Fight Hard MMA last weekend, but the bout was scrapped when his opponent could not make bail. Always active, Murphy is riding high from the biggest win of his career in June at Bellator 157 when he filled in the week of the fight and defeated Justin Robbins. Murphy has become a bit of a specialist for last minute fights.
Also on the undercard, Muay Thai specialist, Luke Nelson will face Enrique "Kike" Gonzalez. Nelson,out of Watson Martial Arts, hasn't competed in MMA since May of 2014. He was scheduled for a Bellator bout last November that was later pulled and has stayed busy with kickboxing and training teammates at Watson's. Gonzalez, out of Jackson-Wink, is coming off a first round KO in June.
Local firefighter and blue chip prospect Kelly D'Angelo will make her professional debut. D'Angelo defeated American Top Team's Jessica Bronco in November of last year to wrap up her amateur career. D'Angelo will face Oregon's Emily Whitemire.
Also, Sean Woodson fills in for teammate Andrew Ebers to take on Wayne Collier and in the only amateur bout, Corbin Howard faces Aaron Harvey.
Full fight card:
Zach Freeman vs Thiago Moises
Ken Porter vs Nick Urso
Josh Sampo vs Matt Brown
Adam Osmoe vs Zach Fears
Hugh Pulley vs Drakkar Klose
Joey Miolla vs TJ Brown
Charles Johnson vs Matt Murphy
Luke Nelson vs Enrique Gonzalez
Kelly D'Angelo vs Emily Whitemire
Sean Woodson vs Wayne Collier
Corbin Howard vs Aaron Harvey (Amateur)
RFA 44: Freeman vs Moises
Friday, September 30th
St. Charles Convention Center, St. Charles, MO
River City Casino, St. Louis, MO
IFA 3 | Sat, June 2nd
American Czech Ed. Center, St. Louis, MO
Shamrock FC 306 | Sat, June 16th
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, MO
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Ameristar Casino, St. Charles, MO