CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Leading up to their RFA middleweight title main event, Andrew Sanchez did his best to troll "King" Kevin Casey, taking to Twitter and calling him, among other things, "a mental midget."
Casey clearly took his opponent's words to heart. The UFC and Strikeforce vet wasted little time finishing Sanchez (5-2) Friday night in the main event of RFA 15, winning via knockout at 2:30 of the first round at the Culver City Auditorium and becoming the company's first middleweight kingpin.
"It was a definite motivation," Casey told MMAFighting.com after the fight. "I felt like I caught him and I made him pay. All those words that he said, I felt like tonight he paid the price. I told him I was going to collect and I came and collected."
Both fighters landed solid blows in the early exchanges, but Casey landed the first blow that counted, a huge left that wobbled Sanchez. He followed with another left, a right hand which dropped him to the mat, and one more big left hand to the grounded Sanchez. Referee Mike Beltran stepped in and stopped the fight.
Casey (8-3) is 3-0 in the RFA following his cut from the UFC after one fight. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based fighter said his early losses helped mold him into the fighter he's become.
"Ever since I got cut from the UFC, that was the wakeup call I needed," Casey told MMAFighting. "I looked inside myself and thought about what kind of fighter I need to be and what I have to do to get there, and I rededicated myself to becoming the best all-around fighter I can be. When I get the call from the UFC, this time around they're going to see the real Kevin Casey and what he can do."
The co-main event was a very entertaining welterweight fight, as LA's Alan Jouban and Team Quest veteran Ricky Legere (18-5) went the distance. In the end, Jouban (9-2) got a split decision win, getting two of three 29-28 cards to go his way.
In the opening round, Jouban got off to a slow start, as Legere, who has fought both Strikeforce and Bellator, dictated the pace. Legere answered late in the round, however, and landed a big flurry of elbows and knees in close over the final minute.
The second round was one of the wildest seen in any promotion this year. Jaboun continued to press forward at the start, but Legere turned things around with a takedown, followed by a neck crank, a transition into mount, and another transition into a rear-naked choke/body triangle. Jouban managed to pick himself off the mat with Legere attached, break the choke, and land on top to deliver some ground-and-pound by the time the round ended.
Jouban simply had more in the tank in round three. Legere was game, but ended up eating his share of big shots, including a head kick in the final seconds.
"I've just been drilling, drilling, drilling," Jaboun said. "I really felt it in this fight. It was a pleasure fighting a guy like him, a class guy. He had me in trouble at one point, he had my back and he was laying in some heavy ground and pound. I think I pissed myself a little in there."
In a catchweight (160 pounds) fight, James Moontarsi (7-1) continued what seems an inevitable march to the UFC with a vicious knockout of Jordan Rinaldi (7-4).
Moontarsi, a Black House fighter, got the best of Rinaldi in the first round with solid strikes in the clinch and a mix of kicks from distance. In the second, however, Rinaldi walked right into a gigantic left uppercut to the jaw, then ate a right to the jaw on his way down. The fight was stopped at 1:14 of the second round.
Rinaldi was eventually taken out of the cage on a stretcher after spending about 10 minutes on the mat.
In one of the strangest finishes you'll ever see in an MMA fight, San Diego's Sam Toomer defeated Daniel Aguiar in the closing minute of their fight due to a disqualification for timidity.
From the get-go, it was clear the undefeated Toomer (8-0) was going to avoid going to the ground at all costs against Aguiar (10-4), who has recorded all 10 of his career wins via submission.
Toomer stuck and moved in the first round. In the second, Toomer stuck to his game plan, and Aguiar increasingly resorted to flopping to the ground and butt scooting in order to try to lure Toomer to the ground.
In round three, Aguilar took it to another level, and referee Beltran had enough. Midway through the round, Beltran delivered Aguiar a lecture and issued a warning. Aguilar went right back to the ground, Beltran soon thereafter docked him a point. Finally, after Toomer delivered a leg kick, Aguilar flopped to the ground, refused to get back up, and Beltran called for the DQ at the 4:25 mark.
In a featherweight fight, Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, went the distance with Hawthorne, Calif.'s Dmitry Gerasimov in an entertaining scrap. Machida improved to 3-2 with a unanimous decision win (no scores were announced).
Gerasimov initiated the opening-round action and appeared to have the round in hand, but Machida turned things up in the final minute and landed several solid knees, punches, and kicks.
In the second, Gerasimov scored a takedown and got Machida into a rear-naked choke, but Machida escaped. Gerasimov landed a spinning backfist, and Machida answered with a head kick, as it was clear the bout was turning into trench warfare.
In the final round, Gerasimov (3-2) scored another takedown, but Machida dictated the pace and the tempo and landed more often. Machida rifled another head kick and just missed on a couple would-be knockout strikes as he sealed the win. MMAFighting scored the bout 29-28 for Machida, giving him rounds 1 and 3.
The main-card opener showed Justin Jones wasn't intimidated by the John Hackleman Jr. hype train.
Hackleman, the son of legendary Pit trainer John Hackleman Sr., won his first two pro bouts via knockout in a combined 1:18. But it was the San Diego-based Jones (2-1) who was the winner in quick fashion Friday night.
Hackleman came out swinging and soon found himself on the wrong end of a right hand which dropped him to the mat. He scrambled back to his feet, but ate another right hand. This time, Jones applied a guillotine choke and made Hackleman tap at the 2:01 mark of the opening round.