Card recap: LFA 84 – J-Train steams to featherweight title

THE NEW Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) featherweight champion was crowed in today’s four-fight LFA 84 event, with Justin Gonzales claiming the vacant title in dramatic fashion. Fans were treated to three finishes in what was the promotion’s first card in 18 weeks, streamed via UFC Fight Pass out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Each bout brought along enthralling twists and turns, confirming that the elite level feeder promotion is in good shape upon its return to full-time activity. The action will not stop here either, with LFA’s inaugural women’s strawweight title fight set to headline next week’s LFA 85 card, back in South Dakota.

But for now, check out our full run-down of each fight from today’s impressive showcase, highlighted by an entertaining main event.

Justin Gonzales def. Jake Childers | TKO (body kick and punches) 0:45 Rd 4

A rollercoaster main event saw the vacant LFA featherweight title go to Justin Gonzales, as the now 11-0 Contender Series alum again pushed his case for a UFC contract. The American claimed victory early in the fourth round, taking out formerly undefeated compatriot Jake Childers with a barrage of strikes as the latter faded.

Both men, who came in boasting perfect records also held similarities in their styles; adept wrestlers with terrific durability, who like to push the pace and turn fights into brawls. Gonzales would have greater success in the early goings, landing a takedown from against the fence followed by ground-and-pound with bad intentions. Everything seemed to be happening on his terms, with his superior size and smothering pressure taking toll on Childers.

After continuing to land hefty body kicks and blows up top, a takedown from Gonzales allowed Childers to turn the contest completely on its head. Childers put everything into securing a submission, first threatening a kimura and using it to sneak around to the back, where he locked in the body triangle and searched for a rear-naked choke. As the composed Gonzales turned out, he landed straight in the way of an arm-triangle, which looked to be incredibly tight.

But the new champ weathered Childers’ craftily constructed storm, and it soon became clear how much the submission attempts had taken out of the aggressor, who very nearly ended the fight. It was no surprise that Gonzales looked to keep the fight standing in the third period, and he did so with aplomb. He would repeatedly tag the fading Childers, with his right hand a main weapon of choice to go with great combinations to punish both the head and body of his opponent.

Gonzales was now close to the finish himself having initiated a measured striking clinic, and it took just 45 more seconds in Round 4 to secure victory. Despite Childers’ incredible heart, he could do little more than cover up and Gonzales began to wing heavy shots, with a pair of front kicks to the body spelling the beginning of the end. Gonzales finished the job on a retreating Childers, handing ‘The Working Man’ his  first professional loss.

With ‘J-Train’ remaining undefeated himself, and 20-0 including his amateur career, the future looks bright for this 29-year-old prospect whether he decides to stay and defend the belt, or move on to grander pastures should the opportunity present.

Maycon Mendonca def. Kassius Kayne | Submission (triangle choke) 2:16 Rd 2

A battle of two big welterweights ended in style as Maycon Mendonca submitted Kassius Kayne via a slick triangle choke in Round 2. It was the Brazilian’s first career submission victory, moving him to 9-4 with a third-straight win after having dropped three-consecutive bouts.

Kayne came out in typical fashion, throwing big shots on the feet, but came undone in Round 1 as Mendonca landed a massive slam takedown from the clinch. Ground-and-pound followed, before the American snuck in a leg lock attempt late in the piece.

He continued to look for a way inside, but Mendonca’s kicks kept him at bay. A beautiful spinning back kick to the body hurt Kayne, backing him up towards the cage. A flying knee would follow, but it only saw Mendonca give up the takedown.

In another twist within the short, fight ending period, Mendonca rode his legs up high to lock in a triangle position, before yielding a tap with the choke midway through Round 2. The 27-year-old is on a tear, and looked unfazed by the late change in opponent.

Boston Salmon def. Shawn West | DQ (illegal knee) 0:53 Rd 2

An ugly, but completely instinctual illegal knee handed Boston Salmon a DQ win over former training partner, Shawn West, bringing an unfortunate end to what was a highly entertaining fight in Round 2.

The now 7-3 Hawaiian looked to be kicking the pace and power up a gear early in the second period, landing some beautifully timed counters up top and cracking West with heavy body shots to follow.

It came after West had arguably taken out Round 1, credit to the damage he had inflicted to Salmon’s lead leg, and a slight knockdown by way of one of his many powerful punches.

The fight ending sequence was brutal, as both men landed big shots to stagger the other. West recovered quicker as Salmon hit the mat, and rushed over to finish the job on his grounded opponent.

That was the exact problem – he was grounded. West’s savage flying knee landed flush to put Salmon out cold and bring an immediate end to proceedings, but it soon became clear that he would not be earning a 17th career victory.

No bad blood was evident after the fact though, with the two showing great mutual respect for one another. We’d love to see this one run back, although Salmon has taken some heavy punishment over his last three fights, including two first round TKOs in his UFC outings.

Bruno Souza def. Kamuela Kirk | Decision (split) 28-29, 29-28 29-28

Machida Academy prospect Bruno Souza leant on his karate skills to get the nod in a split decision against Kamuela Kirk, notching his seventh-straight victory to improve to 7-1 as a professional.

The bout was fought exclusively on the feet across the 15 minutes, with Souza’s sharp lateral movement, quick hands up top, and heavy kicks to the body helping to slow the closing Kirk.

The Brazilian simply found a greater rhythm and was more active throughout the fight, landing a greater volume of blows in response to Kirk’s thudding boxing combinations. While the first round belonged to Souza, Rounds 2 and 3 were much tighter, and Kirk produced some nice moments with his left hook in range.

But those efforts proved futile for the former Contender Series fighter, who now moves to 9-4 with his 100 per cent finishing rate intact. With a win in his fight in almost a year, the Souza remains perfect after his debut loss in 2016.

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