Gilbert Smith will make his first RFA title defense on Oct. 9. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Las Vegas-based Resurrection Fighting Alliance will return home on Oct. 9 for the first time since RFA 4 for RFA 31 “Smith vs. Marunde.”
The promotion announced the main event will pit Bristol Marunde against Gilbert Smith for the RFA welterweight title, with the women’s strawweight belt up for grabs when Zoila Frausto takes on Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger in the co-main.
Smith will defend his crown for the first time since capturing it via third-round armbar against Benjamin Smith in June. The UFC veteran has won three of his last four fights and has no plans on relinquishing his title.
“First and foremost, it’s a great honor to defend my RFA title in Las Vegas,” Smith said. “I look forward to putting on a great fight for the fans in Las Vegas, but like I said after my last fight, this belt is staying around my waist. I have nothing but respect for Bristol Marunde, but I will let him know he’s not on my level. This belt is coming back to Colorado.”
Marunde has won four in row and though his victories have come in lower-level shows, he appears to be a man hell bent on getting back to the sport’s biggest stage. A win over Smith would certainly do wonders for his career and fighting in his hometown could help him.
“It’s nice to be fighting in Las Vegas, but I will be the next RFA welterweight champion regardless of where it’s held,” Marunde explained. “I’m ready for this challenge in Gilbert Smith. I want everyone to see this fight. It will be my best performance to date.”
Frausto, the first women’s champion under the Bellator umbrella, has fallen on hard times in the cage as of late. After pulling off huge wins against the likes of Jessica Aguilar, Jessica Penne and Megumi Fuji earlier in her career, Frausto enters the bout on a three-fight losing skid. She hasn’t competed professionally in almost two years and is ready to make a comeback.
“More than anything, I’m happy to be back,” Frausto said. “I’m a completely different fighter now. I’m not just athletic, but I’ve added world-class striking and won a muay Thai world title. I now have size, strength, speed, and skill that the girls at 115 pound aren’t ready for. It’s exciting to fight for the first RFA women’s title in Las Vegas. The first fight I ever saw was in Las Vegas and I remember seeing it and thinking, this is what I want to do and this where I want to fight.”
Jones-Lybarger has been a roll lately, winning her last three. Her last proposed foe, Kinberly Novaes, pulled out of their scheduled RFA 29 matchup, but that didn’t deter Jones-Lybarger’s training or focus.
“I honestly feel that my time is now,” Jones-Lybarger explained. “When the fight with Kinberly (Novaes) was called off, I knew my time for an RFA title fight with Zoila was now. This is the win I need to get me to the next chapter in my career and I’m excited about becoming the first RFA women’s champion.”
RFA 31 will be held outdoors at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center and will be televised live on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. A full undercard and prelims will be announced soon.