RFA’s Pantoja Heads to “TUF” Semis
The Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) is a leading developmental promotion to the UFC.
Following The Ultimate Fighter 24’s round of 16 that ended with eight stoppages and coaches Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo each sending four of their team members to the quarterfinals, the competition has now started to get tougher, even among an all-champion cast.
Cejudo’s Alexandre Pantoja (Brazil) and Kai Kara-France (New Zealand) were the first of the season to suffer through a grinding full ten-minute exhibition.
After bragging about a rarely seen ground game ahead of the fight. Kara-France’s back is on the canvas thanks to the Jiu-Jitsu expert in the RFA’s flyweight champion. Kara-France is safe but Pantoja is on him like a carnivore on beef. The next Pantoja takedown does little as does the punch combo of his opponent. Pantoja tries again and takes his back only to yet again end up standing.
Kara-France draws a reaction with an overhand right when a flying knee misses his head. Pantoja lands a nice body kick but his training partner is getting the better of him with jabs. He gets an overhand of his own, but Kara-France presses on, stuffing another takedown in the final seconds before round two.
Kara-France connects first with an uppercut but leaves his torso open to attack. He keeps the fight on the feet still, so Pantoja launches a combination of strikes and a pair of close-call head kicks his way. Now it’s down to a numbers game and Pantoja is upping the pressure to the midsection and through leg kicks as Kara-France is looking for his moment, but still moving backward.
The action comes to a lull but Kara-France seems to be rebounding with head and body blows as Pantoja can only counter for the moment. Pantoja twice fails to implement his bread and butter of jiu-jitsu. Still, the countering by Pantoja is getting under the skin of the Bragging Rights Fight Series rep. They tangle against the fence with no result before Pantoja counterstrikes to the end.
Alexandre Pantoja def. Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision
Remaining Quarterfinal Bouts
Hiromasa Ogikubo (Benavidez) vs. Adam Antolin (Cejudo)
Matt Schnell (Cejudo) vs. Tim Elliot (Benavidez) *Pantoja faces the winner of this contest with a tournament finale spot on the line.
Team Benavidez is guaranteed to send a fighter to the semifinals with the bout between teammates Ronaldo Candido and Eric Shelton.