In a battle of two former promising UFC talents, both needed to demonstrate the regrouping process on the regional circuit could bring them back to previous glory. While neither Tyson Griffin nor Efrain Escudero had an exemplary performance, it was Griffin who did enough to earn a unanimous decision win in what was his first bout since being cut by the UFC. The fight also marked his return to lightweight after going 1-1 in a brief 2011 featherweight run in the UFC. The judges scored the main event of Ressurection Fighting Alliance (RFA) 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 in favor of Griffin.
The bout was never dull even if neither fighter was ever able to gather a ton of momentum against the other. In fact, Escudero, whose loss tonight marks his third consecutive defeat in as many fights, had his better moments. The Lab-trained lightweight attempted three armbars in the first round, the third of which appeared close as he went belly down and forced Griffin into evasive manevers. But evade he did, all of which came after a round Griffin largely controlled in the clinch, with takedowns and using top control.
The bout's complexion never significantly changed from there on out. Griffin pressed the action by initiating wrestling and grappling exchanges all while fending off numerous guillotine and armbar attempts. Escudero managed another reasonably close armbar attempt in the third frame, but Griffin - while visibly wincing in pain - was able to work around it and hold on for the decision victory.
Griffin's rebound victory brings his MMA record 16-6 while Escudero drops to 18-6.
RFA 4's fight card didn't only feature notable names in the main event. The entire fight card seemingly had some sort of UFC tie-in even when a fight featured only rising prospects.
In the co-main event and perhaps the best performance of the evening, Chidi Njokuani tore through Phil Dace earning a third-round TKO stoppage. Njokuani, the welterweight brother of UFC lightweight Anthony Njokuani, dazzled with a blistering muay Thai attack. The Nigerian-American seemed to land everything and anything at will, including blazing middle kicks, several leg kicks that took Dace off of his feet and ultimately a sneeky right hook that sent Dace to the mat. A few more follow up punches from Njokuani ultimately forced the referee stoppage at :41 of round 3.
UFC veteran and multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Marcio Cruz finished Joe Yager with an inverted triangle set up off a takedown attempt against the fence at 4:16 of round 2.
WEC veteran James Krause had the quickest fight of the night as he blasted through Brazilian prospect Guilherme Trindade at just :31 of round 1. Krause opened the bout aggressive and managed to get through an ultra-quick head kick that caught Trindade as he was immobile and flatfooted. A well-placed uppercut to follow then put the Brazilian on the canvas, which ultimately let to a referee stoppage after a few more punches from Krause.
Wrestling prospect and Team Alpha Male member Lance Palmer was able to get past UFC veteran Fredson Paixao, but not with excitement or a ton of action. In a defensively cautious match, Palmer was able to control the contest with takedowns and avoid the best Paixao's guard had to offer. While a close bout, Palmer took the split decision win by earning 29-28 twice to 29-28 for Paixao on only one judge's scorecards.
Palmer, however, fared better than his Team Alpha Male teammate Derek Burnsed, who lost by submission to one-time 'The Ultimate Fighter' hopeful and semi-controversial figure Dakota Cochrane. Cochrane controlled the bout in seemingly every dimension of the game from the opening bell, leading with pressure, flying knees and aggressive punching and domination on the floor. Burnsed eventually tapped to an armbar at 4:38 of the very first frame.
Sergio Pettis, brother of UFC lightweight contender Anthony Pettis, made his national television debut on Friday at RFA 4 on AXS TV. The Milwaukee-native earned a unanimous decision victory over Jimmy Jones in a contest where Pettis was forced to battle back from a slow start. The younger Pettis ate numerous jabs early from Jones, but eventually made adjustments both with head movement and pressure in footwork to take away Jones' primary weapons. By the time the third round nearly ended, Pettis landed a head kick that sent Jones stumbling to the mat although did not stop him outright. The judges gave Pettis scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27.
On the unaired preliminary portion of the card, 2008 Olympian on the U.S. men's freestyle team Steve Mocco won his mixed martial arts debut with a kimura submission victory at 1:34 of the second round over Tyler Perry.