NorCal MMA’s September Suggestions

Weekends, for the most part, have become the designated unloading zone for MMA content from every corner of the globe. Whether action is being delivered through television, a downloadable app, an online stream, or an over-priced pay-per-view, it can be easy, even for the most dedicated devotee, to get lost in the shuffle. NorCal MMA doesn’t want any singular striking or grappling exchange—from amateurs to those representing the region at MMA’s apex—to go unnoticed, though there are a number of match-ups slated for the month of September, featuring an assortment of talent strewn across California’s northern half and Central Valley, that everyone should place on their radar.

LFA 51

Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) will take the Selland Arena in Fresno by storm on September 28, 2018, but before being blinded by the gold—in a flyweight affair between Sabina Mazo and Jaimee Nievera—at the top of the card, there are several must-see-scraps that will also air live on AXS TV.

Nohelin Hernandez vs. Rolando Velasco

Nohelin “Suave” Hernandez (8-2) and Rolando “The Machine” Velasco (13-5-1) is a guaranteed barnburner at the bantamweight division.

The stats accumulating upon Hernandez’s short-lived resume are staggering to say the least: nine of his eleven contests occurred within the past two years; he’s the present-day Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) Featherweight Champion; and an added license to box professionally has allowed him to punch the accelerator of his career. With the tutelage and training gathered inside American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Hernandez hopes to turn the pair of consecutive wins on his run toward the sport’s pinnacle into a hat-trick.

Absent from the cage since late 2017, “The Machine,” alongside a crew of assassins at Last Stand Fight Team, has, undoubtedly, constructed a gorgeous game plan to implement against Hernandez. Dating back to 2012, Velasco invested considerable focus in becoming the face of Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) at 135-pounds. En route to the TPF title, he was unable to topple Cody Gibson, who defended his belt that night—TPF 27. This seasoned vet is lubed with plenty of elbow grease to get back to his emotionless production of pain.

Cody Gibson vs. Gustavo Erak

Hot off the heels of retirement, Cody “The Renegade” Gibson (15-7) plans to repave his road to the UFC, beginning with Gustavo Erak (19-3-1), who, as of late, has proven himself to be an impenetrable featherweight force.

Months after Gibson decided to hang up the gloves, his senses were saturated with a desire to, once again, hear the cage door lock, feel the canvas on the soles of his feet, smell fear on his opponent, and taste victory.

It took awhile for LFA to answer Gibson’s call—in fact, a little too long, but his phone rang, nonetheless. Not only will “The Renegade” be welcomed back before his hometown faithful and broadcasted to a national audience, but a stunning performance against Erak, a battle-tested Brazilian on an eight-fight win-streak, could capture the attention of the powers that be in the UFC.

Joaquin Lopez vs. Salaiman Ahmadyar

Two Northern California teams collide in the Central Valley, and somebody’s perfect record will be tarnished when Joaquin Lopez (4-0) and Salaiman “The Cutthroat Assassin” Ahmadyar (6-0) answer the sound of LFA 51’s bell.

NorCal Fighting Alliance’s Lopez has yet to visit a single set of scorecards, finishing all his fights with technical knockouts. Highlighting how deadly his hands truly are, he entered his moneymakers into a professional boxing match, and the results in the squared-circled were a carbon-copy of what occurred in the cage.

Heavy-hitters are nothing new to Ahmadyar. Honing his craft amongst many of MMA’s elite at Team Alpha Male, there is no doubt Ahmadyar will be fastened with the necessary strategy to dodge Lopez’s fists of fury and generate his own firestorm.

Bellator 206

When Bellator MMA invades San Jose’s SAP Center on September 29th, the Paramount-owned production has stuffed its prelims, which will stream live at, with a cast of contenders close to catapulting their careers from the regional setting into the worldwide marketplace.

Jeremiah Labiano vs. Justin Smitley

 Jeremiah “The Kid” Labiano (11-6) and Justin “The Bushido Kid” Smitley (10-7-1) share similar records, nicknames with a youthful glow, and ages, but their journeys in MMA, at least mapped on a timeline, appear to be from different eras.

Smitley debuted as a pro in 2006 and faced the who’s who the area had to offer, such as Joseph Benavidez, Andre Fili, Adrian Diaz, and many others. Although Smitley stalled his impressive streak of four consecutive wins in 2016, this member of Last Stand Fight Team is prepared to hit the ground running in 2018.

If Labiano looks familiar flinging his four-ounce gloves under the Bellator banner, it’s because: the last time this long-standing member of Crispim BJJ was visible was in the Tel Aviv’s main event—Bellator 188. “The Kid” enjoys everyone’s undivided attention, which had become commonplace on the local scene, and his attack of flailing fists as an attraction on the prelims will, at least to the untrained eye, resemble a tantrum on the digital devices of online viewers.

Amber Leibrock vs. Arlene Blencowe

While the UFC continues to pad their women’s featherweight division with former bantamweights, Bellator keeps bringing actual brutes at that particular weight class under their umbrella, again evidenced by contracting Amber Leibrock (3-1) opposite Arlene Blencowe (10-7).

The power in Leibrock’s striking can turn anybody’s world upside-down; therefore, it makes sense for Bellator to ship in another opponent from “Down Under” to even stand a chance against the punishing product of Combat Sports Academy (CSA). At Bellator 199, Leibrock, under a canopy of deafening cheers, dominated Australian Janay Harding for all fifteen-minutes. Interestingly enough, Blencowe is also be an Aussie, but, in stark contrast to her fellow countrywoman, she possesses nearly four-times more experience than Leibrock. 

Danasabe Mohammed vs. Salvador Becerra

Danasabe “Papa Midnight” Mohammed (5-2) and Salvador Beccera Jr. (6-2) have all the ingredients to concoct Bellator 206’s Fight of the Night.

“Papa Midnight” doesn’t care what time it is, until the bell rings; then, he works in five-minutes chunks of chaos. Mohammed’s only two losses were to confirmed commodities: James Terry, the owner of almost thirty fights; and Dwight Grant, who recently punched his way onto the UFC’s roster as a contestant on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Over the course of Mohammed’s career, he’s verified his lack of interest in what judges think, violently ending four of his five wins inside of regulation.

Last Stand Fight Team’s Becerra also has a leg up on others as a prospect with a ton of potential. Becerra’s style is perfectly balanced to remove any adversary from their feet, either striking or submitting his way to a stoppage in five of his six victories. In a fashion comparable to Mohammed’s, the defeats Becerra suffered were to Adam Piccolotti and Danny Ramirez, prizefighters with a proven pedigree.

Truth is, the number of MMA events scheduled throughout Northern California and the Central Valley opens the possibility for a “must-watch list” to unfurl as if falling into an endless pit. By following, fight fans, even those beyond the state’s invisible walls, can uncover one gem after another.


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