After Brandon Royval came up short against Casey Kenney for the Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight title last November, he vowed to make sure it didn't happen again. So far, he's been right.
Royval stood toe-to-toe with Joby Sanchez for a few minutes in the LFA 65 main event Friday night inside Dobson Arena in Vail, Colorado, though the loose, sometimes wild striking didn't last very long. Royval (9-4) shot in for a takedown, but Sanchez stuffed him and immediately went to work on a D'Arce choke. "Raw Dawg" remained patient and battled through the submission attempt and then turned the tables on his foe.
Royval swept Sanchez (12-5) once he escaped the D'Arce, hooked Sanchez' left leg and then rolled him into a textbook armbar. Sanchez had nowhere to go and had no choice but to tap out, officially ending the entertaining duel 3:17 into the opening round, capping off a solid night of MMA action on AXS TV.
After tensions boiled over at the weigh-ins on Friday, featherweights Joanderson Sa de Brito and Jose Mariscal couldn't contain themselves once their battle began. The two stormed out of their corners but as soon as the fight began, Mariscal (7-4, 1 NC) was hit low and then nearly knocked out as he complained to referee Curtis Thrasher. Once the fight resumed, the nemeses tore into other, swinging wildly for the fences until "Tubarao" leveled Mariscal with a perfect left hook. "Chepe/Machine Gun" crashed to the canvas, already out, only to be smashed by a pair of ruthless follow-up hammerfists before Thrasher could pull the Brazilian off. The end came in just 44 seconds, allowing Brito to improve to 11-2-1.
In a featherweight contest, it was Matt Jones who out-dueled Youssef Zalal for three rounds to win a split decision. Jones (8-2) continuously searched for a takedown and spent most of the 15 minutes clinching with Zalal (6-2) against the cage. Neither fighter landed any noteworthy strikes and each had a takedown in the battle, leaving much to be desired in terms of all-out action. In the end, two judges felt Jones won 29028 and the third had the same score for Zalal.
Rising prospect Pauline Macias remained unbeaten by edging Sarah Shell over three grueling rounds of strawweight action. "PITA" used her judo prowess to score several throws in the contest and was busy enough on the feet to offset most of what Shell (1-2) tried. Shell, who hadn't fought in over five years due to starting a family and becoming a doctor, landed plenty of solid strikes both on her feet and off her back, but Macias (3-0) was the aggressor and her throws and takedowns were the difference. Two judges had it 29-28 and the third saw it 30-27 for Macias, who won a unanimous decision.
Adam Stroup staved off a depleting fuel tank to topple rugged guard-puller Hayward Charles to win a unanimous decision. Stroup (13-5) dropped "The Hybrid" several times with punches and knees, but the knockdowns seemed to be more Charles (16-9, 1 NC) looking to lure Stoup the canvas than anything. Stroup finished the middleweight fight landing several punches on the ground and walked away with the judges' verdict via tallies of 30-27 across the board.
Adam Martinez and Cory Galloway opened the televised portion of the card by tearing into each like starving wolves fighting over a dead elk. Galloway (11-8) rocked and dropped "Mini Hunt" multiple times in the first and second rounds, but Martinez never stopped coming forward. The bantamweights took turns lighting each other up with punches, but Martinez (5-2) turned the tides for good in the third when he locked in a guillotine after taking Galloway down. "The People's Champ" escaped the choke, but he mistakenly fell back into it after a scramble and eventually tapped out, ending a wild back-and-forth brawl. The end officially came at 2:35 of the third.