Introducing- The RFA Report
As the sport of Mixed Martial Arts grows to be more and more mainstream, I thought to myself, “Where’s the ‘farm system’ for the big shows?”
The NFL has semi-pro leagues to look to (but most obviously Division I of the NCAA), the NHL most notably has the American Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League (a full- blown governing body for the entire nation comprised of the individual Ontario, Quebec Major Junior and Western hockey leagues.) Baseball has the well-known AAA, AA, A system.
MMA’s lower level consists of various independent promotions scattered across the country. Enter the Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
“The RFA’s focus is simple: showcase the top contenders in the sport, resurrect the careers of big-name talent others have given up on, and launch all of them into the global spotlight.” – Facebook
The promotion can be and is widely regarded as the developmental system in the sport for things beyond fighting: requiring fighters to engage with the media and it’s deal with AXS TV which is available in 35 million homes in North America since it replaced HDNet in 2012. RFA is also the only organization allowed to use the UFC patented eight-sided cage design in an effort to get there fighters mentally ready for the environment of the industry leader.
It’s because of these things along with RFA’s track record of getting 40+ fighters to “the show” and a number to Bellator MMA as well that I consider RFA to be the premiere ‘MMA D-League’ and am happy to introduce The RFA Report. My goal is to showcase not only the MMA backgrounds but also the college or notable amatuer backgrounds of the prospects profiled.
With that in mind, I kick off RFA coverage with a look at the St. Louis area’s Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez.
Sanchez is a proven finisher with a 7-2 record with a 71 percent KO/TKO percentage along with two submissions. According to his record (retreived from Sherdog.com on May 17, 2016) he has never let the fate of his fights go to the judges’ scorecards with exception to the most recent episode of The Ultimate Fighter, which are considered exhibition bouts.
All of his wins in the RFA and just one defeat have been by KO/TKO up to this point. “El Dirte” led Team Cláudia to 3-0 with a smothering decision victory over Myron Dennis after two rounds.
“I fought a smart fight and did my job. I shut him down and it was pretty demoralizing for him. He had no submission attempts and that left him feeling vulnerable. He would wait, wait, and explode. I was forcing him to stay in full guard. I didn’t even want to pass. A pass can allow for scrambles and I wasn’t going to allow it. I knew that his only chance is to let loose on someone who is right in front of him and on the fence. He’s not super aggressive and I was not going to give him no chance to get off. My movement and my wrestling made him scared to commit.”
Specs: Age: 28 Ht: 6′ 0″ Wt: 185 lbs. – The Ultimate Fighter 23 cast member -RFA Middleweight champion – International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Fed. champion – 2x NAIA Wrestling champion – 4x All-American Alma Mater: McKendree University (Lebanon, IL)
Sanchez was 144-23 overall at McKendree, winning his national title in a 2-1 decision during his Senior year. He finished that season 38-1.
With the taping of TUF now over with, he will compete next at the Jiu-Jitsu tournament Respect 3 at Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis on May 21. “The Chase” just so happens to be the same venue where the Illinois native won his RFA Middleweight strap against John Poppie by….You guessed it– TKO (a spinning backfist and follow up punches at that!)
Regardless of how his time on TUF plays out on TV, the UFC uses cast members to fill out the finale’s card. Keep an eye out for Sanchez on July 8.
*Additional source: Brett Auten, Editor-in-Chief at KnuckleJunkies.com.