Regional MMA Recap: Copeland Captures RFA Title

RFA 16It’s been a slower couple of weeks for regional MMA as far as betting goes, but Friday saw RFA 16 on AXS TV, and that organization always seems to produce solid talent. There’s also a great deal of MMA that takes place with no coverage at all, so we’ll take a look at some notable prospects and results from the past weekend as well. RFA 16 was headlined by a heavyweight title bout, which is normally a recipe for disaster on the regional circuit, but Josh Copeland actually looked extremely impressive. He came out from the opening bell and landed hard punches at will on the rangier Jan Jorgensen. Copeland has shown some well-rounded skills early on in his career, and it’s likely that he’ll follow the same path as most RFA champions into the UFC, and there are several fighters on the roster that he is capable of beating. Copeland actually closed as a +100 underdog (bet $100 to win $100) at Several Bookmakers, but he looked the part of a massive favorite in the fight. The co-main event saw Jarred Mercado control the majority of the grappling exchanges en route to a decision victory over Daniel Swain. Swain was a late replacement in this fight – Mercado’s third scheduled opponent for this bout – but it may not have mattered if he had a full camp, as Mercado was simply better when the two got in close quarters. At some point it would be nice to see Mercado get some finishes – he has only four in his twelve career wins – but he’s still a fighter to keep an eye on moving forward. The first bout of the evening to feature odds was a welterweight fight between grapplers Chris Heatherly and Josh Cavan. Cavan seemed to have the physical advantages, but Heatherly’s technical skills were able to overcome and pull out the victory after a very entertaining back and forth bout. It was a nice bounce back fight for Heatherly, since his RFA debut ended under such auspicious circumstances. On the rest of the televised card, Hawaiian bantamweight Boston Salmon (2-0) picked up a first round victory, and seems to be a fighter RFA has taken a big interest in. Flyweight Sid Bice (3-0) defeated fellow undefeated prospect Eric Shelton (4-1). Marion Reneau (4-1) defeated debuting GLORY veteran Maureen Riordon (0-1) with a first round submission. Friday also featured an event in Australia from the hilariously named Roshambo MMA promotion. The main event was no joke however, as Alex Volkanovski (7-1) defeated longtime Aussie veteran Jai Bradney (15-10-1) via first round submission. Volkanovski also has a win over DREAM veteran Rodolfo Marques Diniz from this May. In the past, the majority of the fighters who have defeated Bradney have gone on to fight at the next level, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Volkanovski get signed for the UFC’s next trip down under. On Saturday, Road FC 16 took place in Korea and it was a solid card. Nam Jin Jo (9-6) became the promotion’s inaugural flyweight champion, while UFC veteran Riki Fukuda (21-7) picked up his second consecutive win since being cut from the UFC. 24-year-old Bruno Miranda (7-1) also scored a devastating TKO with a knee to the liver. All three could be on the UFC’s radar for future events in Asia. World Fighting Championships 25 also took place on Saturday, and veterans Ryan Healy (24-13-1) and Ian Loveland (16-10) picked up wins. While his record is deceiving, Loveland was an unjustified cut from the UFC in my eyes, and now that he’s returned from his 19-month hiatus, another win or two could see him back in the Octagon. One last result from Saturday is from the Shamrock Promotions card that took place in Kansas City. American Top Team prospect Brandon Phillips (5-0) kept his record undefeated with a win over Bellator veteran Owen Evinger (8-5). Phillips has now stopped all five of his opponents, and the bantamweight is someone to keep an eye on moving forward. This weekend there will be no regional cards with betting lines covered on MMA, but there’s rarely a weekend that passes in the sport these days that doesn’t feature some notable fights, so check back in to next week’s regional recap to see which fights flew under the radar.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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