Resurrection Fighting Alliance has a new boss at 185 pounds.
Andrew Sanchez took possession of the promotion’s vacant middleweight championship, as he wiped out John Poppie with a spinning back fist and follow-up punches in the third round of the RFA 28 headliner on Friday at Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis. Poppie (6-2) succumbed to an accumulation of blows 1:53 into round three.
Sanchez (7-2) was violent and relentless. The K Dojo Warrior Tribe export showed off a wide variety of standup techniques in a dominant first round and slowly sucked the life out of Poppie. Sanchez opened a gash near the Wisconsin-based middleweight’s right eye with a spinning backfist early in the second, floored him with a two-punch combination and tore into him with scorched-earth ground-and-pound. Blood was everywhere before long, leading referee Mike England to pause the action so the physician could examine Poppie. He was allowed to continue, but the end was near.
The 27-year-old Sanchez let his combinations fly in the third round, wobbled the Chosen Few Gym representative with a spinning backfist and then dropped him with another. A follow-up volley of punches on the defenseless Poppie forced a merciful stoppage.
In the co-main event, Titan Fighting Championship alum Ken Porter eked out a controversial split decision over former RFA flyweight champion Matt Manzanares. Two of the three cageside judges scored it for Porter, 30-27 and 29-28, while a third cast a dissenting 29-28 nod in favor of Manzanares.
Output was a real problem for Porter (9-2) for much of the three-round contest, as he absorbed a series of leg and body kicks from Manzanares, who kept his hands and feet busy and often beat him to the punch. Porter struck for a takedown in the second round and again in the third. It was there that he did his best work. The 25-year-old set up shop in top position, uncorked his ground-and-pound and split open Manzanares (7-6) with a well-placed elbow strike from inside the guard. Blood poured out of a diagonal cut above the onetime champ’s left eye, providing visceral evidence of Porter’s work.
Manzanares has lost five of his last six fights, including four straight.
Meanwhile, American Top Team’s Thiago Moises submitted Javon Wright with a second-round rear-naked choke in a featured featherweight battle. Wright (6-4) conceded defeat 2:10 into round two, his modest two-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Moises (6-0) executed multiple takedowns, slid to his opponent’s back and threatened with an inverted heel hook in the first round, setting the table for what was to come. In the second, the promising 20-year-old Brazilian scrambled to Wright’s back, distracted him with punches and landed the choke for the tapout.
In other action, MMA Lab prospect Jake Roberts (5-0) captured a unanimous decision against Chuka Willis (4-2) in their three-round pairing at 155 pounds; Adam Osmoe (3-0) submitted Jimmy Donahue (6-6) with a rear-naked choke 3:27 into the first round of their lightweight affair; Travis Draper (3-1) took a split verdict -- 29-28, 28-29, 30-27 -- from Joe Valdez (1-1) in a three-round clash at 145 pounds; and Tyler Flores (2-0) claimed a unanimous decision over Colby Tierney (2-2) in their three-round welterweight encounter.