InsideSTL/Freelance: LFA Represented Well at UFC Denver

The Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) is the premier developmental organization in MMA.

Legacy Fighting Championship (pre-LFA merger) alumnus Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko is now facing both greatness and redemption. The 14-2 Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian muay thai specialist went unbeaten for six years before suffering a loss to the now UFC women’s bantamweight (135-pound) champion Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes. She rebounded with a victory over Holly Holm, the first woman (later to be followed by Nunes) to defeat Ronda Rousey by knockout.

According to television broadcaster Curt Menefee before the fight, the winner would earn a title shot. The #1 ranked Shevchenko used the spotlight of being in a main event bout to contend for the championship for the first time and get another go ’round with Nunes. The event (UFC on Fox 23) was the first UFC show in Denver, the birthplace of the UFC, to be headlined by women.

Her opponent, Juliana ” The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña comes out strong in the opening seconds with early dirty boxing, tying Shevchenko up and connecting knees to her abdomen. “Bullet” counters with a foot sweep and moves into side control on the ground. There’s some distance between the two as they duel for position and Peña stands. The same scenario plays out again like a video replay, but Shevchenko traps Peña against the fence and lands a series of right hands.

Peña attempts to turn the tide of the contest late in the round by transitioning from guard to a belly-down armbar submission, but the horn sounds.

The start of round two is the same as the first but when the pace slows Peña ditches her lackluster clinch position and knee striking for a shot at a throw to the canvas. Shevchenko avoids the throw but fails to stop a double-leg takedown. Peña can do nothing as she’s back up seconds later. With their arms tying each other up again, this time it’s Shevchenko on her back after a sweep from the “Vixen.”

Shevchenko manipulates her legs into place like a spider slowly crawling its way up an arm. Peña is now belly down but is continue to fight. They roll into a standard armbar with both women on their backs and Shevchenko gets the tap.

Valentina Shevchenko def. Julianna Pena via armbar at 4:29 of Round 2

The LFA was also represented in three other bouts on the guard and was guaranteed victory in both of the early preliminary bouts on UFC Fight Pass. The Ultimate Fighter 24 alumni Alexandre Pantoja and Eric Shelton were a part of the Resurrection Fighting Alliance (pre-LFA merger.) Jason Gonzalez of the RFA faced JC Cottrell of the former Legacy FC. Pantoja and Gonzales each earned wins respectively.

RFA’s Bobby Nash, Jeremey Kimball, and final light heavyweight (205-pound) champion Jordan Johnson were on the FS1 prelims. Nash faced Jinglang Lee. Pantoja, Johnson, Shelton, Nash and Kimball each made their official UFC debuts with Pantoja and Johnson being triumphant in their outings.

In total, the LFA racked up four victories.