Thiago Moises kept chipping away, and finally, Jamall Emmers broke.
The American Top Team prospect defeated Emmers via technical knockout 2:52 into the fifth round of their Resurrection Fighting Alliance 38 headlining bout on Friday at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California, retaining his lightweight title. Moises (8-1) has won three straight fights under the RFA banner.
Emmers (9-3) got off to a fast start, as he used his range and speed advantage to beat Moises to the punch in the opening frame. While his output was not especially high, Moises gradually took control over the final four rounds. When he did initiate exchanges, Moises landed the more damaging blows, often finding a home for clean right hands.
Emmers was a spent force after Moises landed his first takedown of the bout at the 3:00 mark of the final stanza. When the Pinnacle MMA representative returned to his feet, Moises swarmed for the finish, landing a knee and a barrage of punches as Emmers turned away in surrender, prompting referee John McCarthy to step in on his behalf.
In the co-main event, Vinicius Zani ravaged the left leg of Joe Murphy en route to a unanimous decision triumph in a bantamweight clash. Two cageside judges scored it 30-27, while a third saw it 29-28, all in favor of Zani (9-4), who returned to active competition for the first time since September 2014.
Zani’s muay Thai was on display from the outset, as he attacked his opponent with crisp punching combinations and low kicks in the opening frame. Zani’s work began to take a visible toll in round two, where his focus on Murphy’s lead leg left his opponent hobbled. Murphy (8-4) nearly went down on multiple occasions due the attacks on his leg, but he fought valiantly until the final bell. However, with his movement limited, he was unable to mount a significant offensive threat.
Elsewhere, three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Christos Giagos halted a recent slump with an emphatic TKO stoppage of former World Extreme Cagefighting talent Karen Darabedyan in a lightweight scrap. “The Spartan” brought a halt to the contest with punches 1:42 into the opening stanza.
Giagos (12-5), who entered the bout having lost three of his last four fights, was both devastating and precise in the decisive exchange. He stunned Darabedyan (12-6) with a sharp right hand, calmly stepped back to avoid any return fire and dropped his opponent with a follow-up two-punch combination. From there, Giagos clinched the win with a series of right hands on the canvas.
Nick Barnes garnered a unanimous verdict over Jose Diaz in a slow-paced welterweight affair. All three cageside judges scored the contest 29-28 in favor of Barnes, who moved to 11-1 with the win. Diaz falls to 6-2.
While offense was sporadic from both men, Barnes landed the most significant strikes of the fight. He appeared to hurt Diaz’s leg with a battery of inside low kicks, forcing his foe to switch stances throughout the bout. Barnes did his best work in round two, as he blended the leg kicks with a pair of takedowns, the second of which was set up by head kick. Meanwhile, Diaz spent much of the third stanza unsuccessfully trying to get his adversary to the canvas.
Albert Morales made short work of Mario Israel in a featured bantamweight encounter, knocking out his foe 20 seconds into the opening round. “The Warrior” improved to 6-0 in his pro career, while Israel falls to 10-2.
Morales began the bout by catching an Israel kick and tagging his opponent with a right hand. The next blow was the decisive one, however, as the Californian knocked Israel unconscious with a perfectly placed left hook. Morales then pounced on his defenseless foe and landed approximately four more punches before referee Herb Dean could sprint across the cage to intervene.
In the opening main-card bout, Jason Gonzalez relied on vicious clinch and body work to earn a second-round technical knockout victory over Chris Padilla in a lightweight bout. The end came 3:14 into the period, as Gonzalez landed a series of unanswered punches on his fallen opponent.
Padilla struck the contest’s first significant blow, as he dropped Gonzalez (10-2) with a pair of right hooks in the opening stanza and followed his man to the ground for a finish. Gonzalez survived and gradually took control, as he punished Padilla (7-1) with kicks to the body, knees in the clinch and crisp straight punches. A pair of knees in round two sent Padilla reeling back to the fence, and Gonzalez swarmed with punches as his foe slumped to the canvas before the bout was halted.