Steve Garcia did his part in his first appearance under the Legacy Fighting Alliance flag and let some dubious officiating do the rest.
The Dana White’s Contender Series alum put away Jose Mariscal with punches and elbows in the second round of their LFA 80 headliner on Friday at the Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Garcia — who missed weight for the match — drew the curtain 2:27 into Round 2 but not without controversy. Gushing blood from an elbow-induced cut to the back of his head, Mariscal (10-5, 1-2 LFA) was returning fire with a left hook when referee Raul Peralta inexplicably decided to call for the stoppage.
Garcia (11-3, 1-0 LFA) floored the Elevation Fight Team rep twice with left hands in the first round, transitioned to the back during a ground exchange and later withstood a perfectly executed judo throw from his counterpart. Early in Round 2, he knocked Mariscal off-balance with a body kick, swooped into top position and cut loose with elbows. The two featherweights eventually returned to their feet, at which point Garcia let punches and standing elbows fly until Peralta interjected himself into the festivities to a chorus of boos.
In the flyweight co-main event, Luttrell-Yee MMA prospect Jerome Rivera submitted Kendrick Latchman with a mounted triangle choke in the second round. Latchman (8-6, 1-2 LFA) conceded defeat 4:12 into Round 2, as the James Krause protege lost for the third time in four outings.
Rivera (9-2, 2-2 LFA) made his move late in the first round, where he connected with a front kick to the face, followed with a volley of close-quarters knee strikes and flexed his superiority in the transitions. Latchman’s situation only deteriorated as the fight spilled into the middle stanza. Rivera softened him with knee strikes to the body and head before catching the triangle while being taken down. He adjusted the choke on multiple occasions, mixed in elbows and ultimately moved to a mounted position to elicit the tapout.
The 24-year-old Rivera has rattled off back-to-back victories since he suffered a gruesome elbow injury at LFA 39 in May 2018.
Meanwhile, repeated takedowns, suffocating positional control and intermittent ground-and-pound carried Elevation Fight Team export Carrington Banks to a unanimous decision over Christopher Brown in a three-round lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Banks (9-2, 1-0 LFA): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
Brown (5-2, 1-1 LFA) never found a rhythm. Banks closed the distance at will, pressed the Jackson-Wink MMA standout against the fence and either bled clock or executed takedowns. Brown sprang a reversal midway through the first round but was otherwise ineffective during ground exchanges. Banks ignored the boos the crowd lobbed his way, stayed focus on the task at hand and reaped the rewards.
The loss closed the book on Brown’s three-fight winning streak.
In other action, Luiz Antonio Lobo Gavinho (10-4, 3-1 LFA) eked out a split decision—28-29, 29-28, 29-28—over Josh Marsh (4-3, 2-2 LFA) in a three-round featherweight battle; Jordan Wright (10-0, 2-0 LFA) cut down Gabriel Checco (11-5, 0-2 LFA) with a knee strike and follow-up punches 48 seconds into the second round of their middleweight confrontation; Tyler Ray (6-1, 5-1 LFA) disposed of Josh Streacker (6-4, 0-1 LFA) with a rear-naked choke 3:01 into the second round of their welterweight pairing; Sean Cerveny (5-0, 1-0 LFA) submitted Edwin Cooper Jr. (2-1, 0-1 LFA) with an armbar 4:25 into the first round of their featherweight encounter; Calob Ramirez (1-0, 1-0 LFA) took a unanimous decision from Chris Rojas (0-1, 0-1 LFA) in a three-round bantamweight affair, drawing 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the judges; Josiah Reyes (1-0, 1-0 LFA) submitted Ricky Esquibel (3-4, 1-2 LFA) with a rear-naked choke into the first round of their flyweight scrap; and Jallin Fuller (2-0, 2-0 LFA) put away Gabe Rodriguez (0-4, 0-1 LFA) with punches 12 seconds into the first round of their catchweight clash at 175 pounds.