Thiago Moises entered the Legacy Fighting Alliance 17 main event with a head of steam and plenty of hype behind him. No one told Robert Watley.
Watley thwarted Moises at every turn and walked out with a lopsided unanimous decision on Friday at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, becoming the inaugural LFA lightweight champion. The underdog landed several low kicks and sporadic punches to the head during their five-round affair, which was largely contested in the clinch. Moises was not his typical explosive self, and his counterpart capitalized to control virtually every minute of every round. Watley took 50-45 scores across the board.
In the co-feature, Tony Gravely took on late replacement Keith Richardson and put on a sensational performance. Richardson made passes at roughly a dozen submission attempts, to no avail. Gravely struck with several powerful slams, slithered out of submission danger and landed the harder, cleaner blows in the catchweight battle. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Gravely.
Meanwhile, Mike Stevens was too much for Hugo Prada to handle in their lightweight duel, as he prompted the stoppage in the second round. “The Scotch Cowboy” rocked Prada with punches and hurt him midway through Round 2. Prada stumbled to the canvas, as Stevens pounded away from back mount before flattening him out and forcing referee Bill Clancy to call it 3:47 into the middle stanza.
In a brief heavyweight encounter, prospect Tebaris Gordon dispatched Chandler Cole with relative ease. He defended several single-leg takedown attempts, countering with punches to the head. “The Hammer” never bothered to alter his approach and paid dearly. After Gordon dodged a takedown, he stepped back and slammed a series of power punches into Cole’s head, authoring the knockout 4:25 into the first round.
Elsewhere, featherweight prospect John Sweeney was terrific, as he put Shelton Sales to sleep less than two minutes into their match. Sweeney clinched behind a volley of strikes, latched on a standing guillotine and choked out Sales 2:57 into Round 1.
Finally, Ryan Jett did just enough to outstrike Nick Rodrigues. Jett denied the rookie’s bids for takedowns, responded with repeated japs to the head and was awarded a split decision: 28-29, 30-27 and 28-27.