Katlyn Chookagian Wins Inaugural CFFC Women’s Flyweight Championship

By Lutfi Sariahmed Jan 10, 2016
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- With news of another UFC supercard in the works featuring Conor McGregor and Holly Holm, the MMA game has moved toward making big headlines and figuring out the details later. Following that lead, Cage Fury Fighting Championship put together fight cards on back-to-back nights featuring an all-amateur event and awarding their first women’s flyweight title on Saturday.

After Katlyn Chookagian’s last bout against Sijara Eubanks, her focus was on getting more fights. Currently without a home in a “major” promotion, female flyweights are left scattered, taking one-off fights in promotions around the country. CFFC 55 pitted the veteran Chookagian against 19-year-old Isabelly Varela, and Chookagian dominated from the opening bell en route to scorecards of 50-42, 50-42 and 50-44.

“It feels great,” Chookagian told Sherdog.com after her title win. “I’m just excited to try and bring more attention to this flyweight division for women. I think it’s a strong division that a lot of people don’t know about just because it’s not in the UFC. Hopefully this kickstarts that to show that it’s a really strong division.”

The difference in Chookagian’s dominant performance was her cardio. After dealing with some pressure from Varela early in the first round, Chookagian never stopped and the decision was a given seemingly after the third round.

“Cardio’s never been an issue. It’s also been one of my biggest confidence points,” she said. “My coaches are sticklers. I’ve been doing six rounds since the first week of camp. That’s why you see people like Marlon Moraes, Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza. They all come from the same camp. We all have great cardio because we train all the time. I’m always confident with cardio.”

The title for Chookagian is less a culmination and more a next step for the All-Star BJJ fighter. The hope is that more women are on their way to challenge for her CFFC hardware.

“It just means that it’s going to be all hard fights from here. People know that I hold the title. It’s a new title so it doesn’t mean as much now as it will when I defend it against other tough girls. They’re only going to find other tough girls. I’m really happy right now but it’s not going to mean anything until I defend it.”

The title fight caps off a weekend during which CFFC staged its first all-amateur card in New Jersey on Friday night. The investment in the amateur ranks also includes hiring UFC veteran and former CFFC welterweight champ Jonavin Webb as amateur matchmaker.

“I think we’re just taking the amateur aspect a lot more seriously,” CFFC matchmaker Arias Garcia told Sherdog.com. “People love our pro-am, and we really didn’t have a venue to showcase our fighters. Obviously, in New Jersey, we can only have all-amateur or all-pro events, and people have been begging us to get more amateurs on our cards in New Jersey. It’s growing our league. We’ll have more amateurs coming from those ranks straight onto our professional shows. It’s a really good combination.”

Veteran heavyweights on Saturday found themselves taking on the co-main event mantle as Joe Stripling faced Plinio Cruz. Though Stripling promised a second-round knockout, the bout went the distance between the two big men. Brazilian native Cruz scored more during their exchanges on the feet and brought Stripling down during the fight too. The combination gave Cruz the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Stripling. After the bout, Stripling left his gloves in the cage, officially retiring from fighting.

Bassil Hafez made his pro debut in welterweight action against Kendrick Mendez in a big way on the televised card. Hafez attacked Mendez from the opening bell and forced his way into an armbar submission just 2:02 into his debut.

In main card action, bantamweight veteran Claudio Ledesma took on Jordan Morales in a grinding three-round bout. Ledesma was the more active of the two fighters early on but couldn’t sustain it over the duration. Morales came back to take a split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) over the veteran.

In undercard action, Johnson Jajout slowly overwhelmed James Jordan over the course of three rounds. Just before the end of the third, Jajout scored the submission win at 4:36 via rear-naked choke. At welterweight, Tony Gravely took a unanimous decision over Dwayne Holman Jr. (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). Eric Mendiola started the CFFC 55 festivities loudly with a 52-second knockout of Andrew Salas at featherweight.

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