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RFA Returns September 30th

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

The buzz and the rumblings have percolated for weeks and on Friday night it became official.

Resurrection Fighting Association returns the region on September 30 with RFA 44, featuring a main card dotted with local standouts that will air live on AXS-TV.

Patrick Smith, the long time promoter of Cage Championships in Sullivan has been instrumental in bringing RFA to St. Louis.

"I really enjoy working with Ed Soares and Sven Bean from RFA," Smith said. "My goal with Cage Champs was to get guys ready for the next level. RFA has a similar vision, and that is to put guys into the UFC, and I really appreciate that. That's what really sets them a part form other fight promotions."

Locals Jake Colier, Andrew Sanchez, and Chris Heatherly have seen their successes in RFA result in UFC opportunities with Sanchez winning on the most recent season of the Ultimate Fighter.

RFA 44 will be held at the St. Charles Convention Center. The RFA, which has made a reputation of streamlining its top fighters into the UFC (sending 49 to date), was in St. Louis in August of 2015. On that night, Andrew Sanchez won the promotion's middleweight title.

Known as one of the top lightweights to ever plant his flag in St. Louis, Zach The Alter Boy Freeman gets the shot of his career in the main event. Freeman, who has been on a bit of a MMA sabbatical, takes on RFA lightweight champion Thiago Moises. Moises is 8-1 and submitted David Castillo in February to win the vacant RFA title. He defended it in June against Jamall Emmers with a fifth-round finish.

Freeman (8-1) has fought one time since suffering his first career loss in 2013 under the Titan FC banner. Freeman took a short-notice fight in March of 2015 for Rumble Time Promotions where he submitted Zac Kelly in the first round.

In a RFA press release, published on Friday night, Freeman said the following:

"I turned down a lot of other offers and opportunities to fight for the RFA lightweight title," he said. "The glory behind winning an RFA title means so much to me. Thiago will be the toughest fight of my career and I will be the toughest fight of his career. This will be the biggest win of my career and it will be in front of my family, friends, and hometown fans."

The co-main event will have flyweights Ken Porter (9-2) of St. Louis against Nick Urso (8-2) of Chicago. Porter turned heads last summer when he defeated former RFA flyweight champion Matt Manzanares in the co-main event of RFA 28 here in St. Louis.

Freeman is one of the elder statesmen at St. Charles MMA and he will be joined on the card by longtime cohort Josh Sampo.

Sampo made a name for himself after winning the CFA flyweight title earning himself a UFC debut where he went 1-3. Sampo's last fight was in May of 2015 where he lost to Justin Scoggins via unanimous decision at UFC 187.

Sampo, who has six submission victories, will face Kevin Gray. Gray (7-3) has gone 2-2 in his last four outings. He bested Kendrick Latchman in March at Shamrock FC: Retaliation. He followed that up with a loss to John DeVall (12-8) in June via submission.

Also rumored to be on the card are two of the area's top up-and-comers who have solidified their standing in the region: Adam Osmoe and Hugh Pulley.

If all goes to plan, Osmoe will look to keep his unbeaten streak alive against an opponent to be named. He is coming off back-to-back submission victories and stands at 4-0 and drew comparisons to UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, who was in Osmoe's corner for his last fight.

Arguably the top prospect in not only St. Louis but the state of Missouri, Hugh Pulley, will also be making his RFA debut. Pulley, who won the 2015 STL MMA Pro Fight of the Year against Eric Irvin under the Bellator banner, then snapped the hype-train that was Grant Dawson in April with a 36-second TKO in the first round. Pulley, who recently was welcomed into the fold at St. Charles MMA, is 6-2.

Highlighting the undercard will be the pro debuts of BJJ black belt Andrew Ebers out of the Wolves Den in O'Fallon, MO and one of the area's best female prospect, Kelly D'Angelo. D'Angelo will be facing Oregon's Emily Whitemire (1-0).

Stand-out striker Luke Nelson from Watson Martial Arts will also be on the card against a yet to be named opponent.

The entire main card of RFA 44: Moises vs Freeman will be televised live, nation-wide on AXS TV at 9 PM local time.