LFA CEO Ed Soares explains why, rather than threatened, he feels good about DWCS

There are different ways that LFA CEO Ed Soares could look at Dana White’s Contender Series weekly events.

On the one hand, with a number of active fighters on the LFA roster fighting for the UFC Fight Pass-streamed show – and some of them getting coveted UFC contracts in the process – Soares could have trouble with a top-level talent glut in his own promotion.

But aware of LFA’s specific role in the bigger picture, that’s not how the promoter and longtime MMA manager sees it.

“I’ve always taken a very positive approach about it, because at the end of the day, I realize there are a lot more fighters out there than there are opportunities,” Soares told MMAjunkie Radio on July 26, the day after Dana White’s Contender Series 3 took place in Las Vegas. “Last night, there were five fights. Four of the fights, three were guys from the LFA that won. One of them got signed. Some of those guys are going to come back with a win on the Contender Series. So that makes them more valuable to promote.

“At the end of the day, we’re there to build them up and feed them up there. Play like a minor league sort of thing. I do think that there might be some adversity at times, and we’ll have to make the adjustments. But I feel in the long run it’s going to be OK, because it’s just more opportunity for the guys.”

Since Soares’ chat with MMAjunkie Radio, yet another former LFA fighter got an octagon contract: Julian Marquez, who stamped his ticket with a highlight-reel head-kick this week at Dana White’s Contender Series 4. Rather than a loss in his own fight cards, Soares sees that type of migration as a strong indicator of success.

“Our goal was to get as many guys as we can up into the UFC and Bellator,” Soares said. “And to think that eight people got signed in the month of July – and five of them got signed to UFC contracts. Three of them got signed through the Contender Series. So, basically, every week of the Contender Series, one guy from the LFA has been signed. At the end of the day, I feel like what we set out to do, we are doing.”

As the former president of RFA, which merged with Legacy FC to form LFA late last year, Soares has grown accustomed to “feeding” some of the talent they built in their cards, and considering their looser contracts, not getting any direct financial compensation for it.

But that, he explains, is simply part of the trade-off.

“I’m going to be very honest: It’s not like guys that are fighting for us are making a ton of money,” Soares said. “And that’s kind of the exchange that you get. We have a very open, very fighter-friendly – but how can we afford to pay you if there’s not a way for us to make a return in our investment?

“So our business model with our fighters is a little bit different: I can’t pay you maybe the amount that you want, but I’m also not locking you down and limiting you from making more money. I’m just giving you a platform to promote you.”

As for the state of his promotion less than one year since the merger, Soares is pleased. Not only is he exporting talent, but expanding his events throughout the U.S. way beyond their now-insufficient “regional” promotion status. With business going well, he’s confident RFA did “the right thing” by joining forces with Legacy FC.

“I think they did some things really well; they did some things better than the RFA,” Soares said. “And I think that there were certain things that the RFA maybe did better than Legacy. So I think what made us better is that we took the best of both worlds and put them together in the LFA.

“I think Legacy had some really great things. They created some huge stars: Holly Holm, Henry Cejudo, (Thomas) Almeida. A lot of people. And we did, too. We just had different strong points, and we were able to combine them and make our product even better.”

LFA returns to AXS TV on Friday. Headlined by a featherweight title fight between champ Kevin Aguilar and challenger Justin Rader, LFA 18 takes place at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla.

For more on LFA 18, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

LFA 18 headliner Justin Rader got a win, cheeseburger, fries, milkshake and title-shot offer

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

Featherweight Justin Rader was two days removed from his victorious LFA debut, treating himself to a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake when he got the call.

“They were like, ‘Hey, do you want to fight for the title here in 32 days?’” Rader told AXS TV’s Ron Kruck. “We talked about it. Slept on the decision. Opportunity knocked, and I was ready to go. I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ It was best for me, (for) my career.

“Opportunity knocks, and I’m going to answer.”

And answer he did. Tonight Rader (7-2) meets fellow Legacy FC vet and reigning LFA titleholder Kevin Aguilar (12-1) hoping to become LFA’s second featherweight champ. The two headline LFA 18, which airs on AXS TV from FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla.

Rader, a jiu-jitsu black belt with two world titles in no-gi competition, is not exactly a stranger to high-level competition. However, tonight is the 30-year-old’s first time fighting for a belt since his transition to MMA in 2014.

In order to get it, he’ll have to snap Aguilar’s four-fight winning streak, which includes three TKO finishes and both LFA and a Legacy FC title wins. And he gets to do it in front of his Oklahoma home fans.

Still, Rader doesn’t seem all that fazed by the high stakes.

“I don’t put any pressure on myself for fights,” Rader said. “This is the toughest opponent I’ve face yet, and my toughest opponents bring out the best in me. That’s really how I’m looking at this fight. I’m very excited for it.”

The stylistic setup for this one is pretty easy to spot. Rader obviously knows his way on the ground, the same way Aguilar has been known to inflict some damage on the feet. And Rader has prepared for that.

But, much like his opponent, he’s careful not to look past the many unexpected ways the title scrap can unfold.

“Hey, anything can happen while you’re in there,” Rader said. “And things start going bad, I’m not going to be afraid to stand and strike. When I start to get afraid, that’s when things can start to break down and I can abandon the gameplan. Hey, he’s a tough guy – no doubt about it, no way around it.

“I have a lot of respect for Kevin, and especially how hard he hits. Those things are going to happen. And things go bad, I need to stay calm, and I need to keep my composure. Exactly the same way that he does. We’ve prepared. We’re ready. It could be one heck of a fight.”

To hear from Rader, check out the video above.

And for more on LFA 18, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

LFA champ Kevin Aguilar on how KO loss to Leonard Garcia helped change his game

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

As many fighters would agree, losses can often provide more valuable learning experiences than wins.

That certainly holds true for LFA champ Kevin Aguilar, who looks to defend his featherweight crown for the first time. Set to meet Justin Rader (7-2) in tonight’s LFA 18 headliner, Aguilar (12-1) brings in a four-fight winning streak that includes three finishes – capped off by the title-winning LFA 4 knockout of Damon Jackson in February.

While Aguilar has mostly been the one delivering knockouts, he was on the losing end of one in 2013 – when Leonard Garcia brought on his first  pro loss. At the time, it probably didn’t feel too good. But now Aguilar credits the since-retired Garcia – whom he’s even Facebook friends with – for helping him get to this point.

“Man, when I lost that fight and went back to the drawing board, I picked everything apart and timed up my hands,” Aguilar told AXS TV’s Ron Kruck ahead of the event at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla. “Because Leonard was a dangerous fighter, he has dangerous standup, and (he’s) known for his bloody wars.

“So I picked my standup apart and put it back together to make sure it was perfect, the most dangerous striking around now. That’s what I’m known for, for my striking. And I thank my boxing coach and Leonard for that.”

Aguilar, who was Legacy FC’s final champ before the promotion’s merger with RFA, has in “Darth” Rader a fellow Legacy FC vet who’s currently on a three-fight winning streak. Rader also happens to be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Rafael Lovato Jr. and a world no-gi champion, as well as a lifelong wrestler.

Take these ingredients, and one would be quick to pin this matchup as a classic ground vs. standup showdown. But, as much as he does plan on keeping things standing, Aguilar said not so fast on that one.

“In the books, it looks like a classic striker vs. grappler,” Aguilar said. “But Radar has been knocking people out, standing up mostly. And I can be dangerous on the ground, as well. I’m not to be taken lightly on the ground.

“So it’s just going to be a mixed martial arts match – two guys, with two great skills. And we’re just going to see who’s going to come out on top.”

Regardless of who ends up successfully implementing his game, Aguilar has one basic prediction of how it’s going to go.

“It’s going to be a nice, bloody war,” Aguilar said. Just like I put them on.”

To hear from Aguilar, check out the video above.

And for more on LFA 18, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie