LFA 22 highlights: A new champion is crowned thanks to a nifty submission

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News

Many people believed Ian Heinisch was on his way to the UFC. All he had to do was the expected and defeat Brazilian import Markus Perez, who was fighting in the U.S. for the first time.

Not so fast.

Heinisch wasted little time at the opening bell, shooting inside and scoring a quick takedown. But Perez patiently worked his way back to the feet, where a slick little transition saw him lock in an arm-triangle choke that he wouldn’t release, rolling with Heinisch to the bottom and finishing it from his back at the 2:14 mark of the opening round to claim the vacant LFA middleweight title.

The bout served as the featured contest of Friday’s LFA 22 event, which aired on AXS TV from 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo.

In the night’s co-feature, two-time cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter” Gilbert Smith (13-6) fought for the final time as a professional, earning a second-round submission win over late replacement Benjamin Smith (15-5).

Check out all of the highlights above.

For more on LFA 22, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

Altitude is a real thing, but Ian Heinisch says LFA 22 foe would find same trouble at sea level

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

Colorado’s own Ian Heinisch thinks he might get some help from the altitude in tonight’s LFA 22 headliner – but it’s not like he needed it, anyway.

Heinisch (8-0) meets Markus Perez Echeimberg (8-0) in front of his home fans at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield looking to capture the promotion’s vacant 185-pound title. Considering Brazil’s Eicheimberg will be the one being introduced to Colorado’s altitude, it’s fair to assess that Heinisch comes in with an advantage there.

Heinisch, himself, won’t deny that. But, brimming with confidence, he also believes the outcome of the  AXS TV-televised middleweight scrap would be the same regardless of setting.

“Altitude is a real thing,” Heinisch told AXS TV’s Phoenix Carnevale. “It’s not only the lungs, it’s the lactic acid you get in your muscles. But either way, even if we were at sea level, it’s going to end the same, and I’m going to execute.

“We’re going to put on a quick, strong pace. I believe he’s going to break soon. He’s going to feel (the altitude). But, either way, if he was fine, it wouldn’t change nothing.”

Heinisch said fellow undefeated middleweight Echeimberg was actually on the fence about taking the fight due to, precisely, the altitude. But after struggling with opponents dropping out before the Brazilian, Heinisch feels blessed to finally have a fight on his hands.

Eichemberg may not be recognizable name yet, but he does carry some solid wins in his resume, including recent back-to-back wins over UFC veterans Paulo Thiago and Ildermar Alcantara. He was also shortlisted as a “TUF: Brazil 3” candidate but lost to Guilherme Vasconcelos in an eliminator bout to get in the house.

Heinisch, in turn, is a two-time state wrestling champion who comes into tonight’s headliner fresh off one slick LFA 10 submission win over yet another Brazilian opponent in Lucas Rota. While most of his wins happened under the local Sparta Combat League banner, he also added a WSOF victory to his name in 2016 with a win over Tyler Vogel.

All things considered, the American title challenger doesn’t seem too impressed by tonight’s competition.

“I don’t know how much wrestling you can get in Brazil,” Heinisch said. “That’s one of the biggest pieces of MMA. So if you don’t have that, how can you say you’re well-rounded? Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to impose my will on him and break him.”

Heinisch’s pursuits, however, aren’t limited to the confines of a cage. If tonight his athletic skills and grit might help him achieve LFA glory, outside of it he’s hoping his turbulent past may serve as inspiration to others looking to turn their own lives around.

“I’m just starting off I’m mentoring some people who are pretty personal to me,” Heinisch said. “And also getting to some other people that just need help. And I feel like I can help them.

“Also, I’m soon volunteering for the church, to go to the prisons and actually speak to them and share my testimony. God has put me on a huge platform, and I’m going to use it and glorify his name.”

To hear more from Heinisch, check out the video above.

And for more on LFA 22, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

LFA 22 is live on AXS TV tonight at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT). Make sure to tweet along using #LFA22. AXS TV airs new, live fights almost every Friday night in 2017. Find AXS TV on your TV right here: www.axs.tv/fights.

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

Expect 'sensitive thug' Gilbert Smith to shed happy tears in tonight's LFA 22 retirement fight

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News

When episode No. 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter 25” aired in June, we saw an emotional Gilbert Smith leaving his gloves in the center of the octagon to signal his retirement from MMA.

Less than three months later, we get to see him in action again.

Tonight’s LFA 22 meeting with Benjamin Smith (15-4), however, doesn’t mean that Gilbert (12-6) has had a change of heart about leaving the sport. Rather, after a somewhat anticlimactic goodbye, the former RFA champ wanted to give his career a proper ending in a familiar stage and in front of his home Colorado fans.

“On the show, when I retired, I felt like that wasn’t the best atmosphere for me to retire,” Smith told AXS TV Fights’ Phoenix Carnevale. “I felt like I took away from the experience from my training partners, my coaches, my family, my friends. And even the fans. Because, when I retired, it didn’t show until like three, four months later.

“I didn’t have the people who brought me up around me. So this fight is dedicated to them. This is why I’m doing this fight, it’s for everybody who supported me throughout the years.”

Gilbert Smith and Benjamin Smith meet in tonight’s LFA 22 welterweight co-headliner. The main event features a bout for the vacant 185-pound belt, between Ian Heinisch and Markus Perez Echeimberg. LFA 22’s main card airs on AXS TV from 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo.

Back in the “TUF” gym, after a unanimous-decision loss to Dhiego Lima, Smith talked about how the passion for MMA had subsided after a six-year pro run that included stints with Titan FC, RFA, Bellator and two stays in “TUF” house; before the “Redemption” edition, which featured “TUF” alumni, he was a member of “Team Jones” on Season 17.

After years of putting himself through the physical and mental exhaustion that come with the tough day-to-day of prizefighting, 36-year-old Smith is ready to live a normal life next to his family, kids and friends. As he looks back on the road this far, the outlook seems to be a bittersweet one.

“Fighting is something that I enjoyed doing, but then I didn’t,” Smith said. “I love to compete. I’m a very competitive person. But hurting people or being hurt, it’s never been something I was thrilled about.

“It’s funny because I am a very emotional person. Call me a sensitive thug. I do think I probably will be emotional. I think it’s going to be a very joyous occasion. So if I cry, it’s not sad tears. It’s tears of happiness. Tears of feeling like I’ve done what I wanted to do. I lived my life. I lived my dream. I’m very thankful for it.”

In order to retire on a victorious note, all that Gilbert needs to do is do something he’s already done before: beating Benjamin Smith. And while both have changed in the two years since an original RFA 26 encounter that gave Gilbert the 170-pound title, the retiring vet feels equipped to come out on top again.

But, even if he doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world.

“At the end of the day, I don’t even have a gameplan,” Smith said. “I’m just going to go out there and fight him, and we’ll see what happens. I mean, I want to win, and I train to win.

“But I don’t really care about the results. I just want to enjoy the moment. Go out there and just have fun. What happens, happens. I’m proud of my career. I have no shame, and I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can do, and just show love to everybody. ”

To hear more from Smith, check out the video above.

And for more on LFA 22, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

LFA 22 is live on AXS TV tonight at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT). Make sure to tweet along using #LFA22. AXS TV airs new, live fights almost every Friday night in 2017. Find AXS TV on your TV right here: www.axs.tv/fights.

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

LFA 22 headed to Colorado with Ian Heinisch vs. Markus Perez Echeimberg middleweight title fight

LFA is heading back to Colorado this fall, and the vacant middleweight title will be on the line.

Colorado’s own Ian Heinisch (8-0) will take on Brazil’s Markus Perez Echeimberg (8-0) for the vacant 185-pound belt at LFA 22, the promotion announced Wednesday. In the co-feature, UFC and Bellator veteran and two-time “Ultimate Fighter” cast member Gilbert Smith (12-6) will compete in his retirement bout when he takes on Andrew Kapel (10-6) at welterweight. Plus, Maycee Barber (1-0) meets Mallory Martin (1-1) in a women’s strawweight fight.

LFA 22 takes place Sept. 8 at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo., near Denver. The main card will air live on AXS TV.

Heinisch will be hoping to provide his home Colorado fans a thrill in the headliner. He made his promotional debut in April and submitted Lucas Rota with a scarf hold armlock in the LFA 10 main event. His resume includes a win over Tyler Vogel at WSOF 29.

Echeimberg will be making his U.S. debut against Heinisch. But his resume already is impressive. A little more than a year ago, he beat 13-fight UFC veteran Paulo Thiago by decision in Brazil. And in February, he outpointed seven-fight UFC veteran Ildemar Alcantara.

Gilbert Smith

Smith is coming off a stint on “TUF 25,” his second shot on the long-running UFC reality competition. Prior to that, he had back-to-back decision losses under the Bellator banner to Fernando Gonzalez and Ricky Rainey in 2016. But before those setbacks, he won RFA’s welterweight title with a submission of Benjamin Smith at RFA 26. He’ll be fighting in front of his home Colorado fans in what he says will be his final bout.

Kapel is an teammate of Benjamin Smith, whom Gilbert Smith beat to win RFA’s welterweight belt. So he may have some revenge on his mind. He’ll also be trying to get back in the win column after a submission loss in Minnesota this past September. Prior to that, he had won three of four fights. All 10 of his career wins are by stoppage, including seven submissions.

The LFA 22 card includes:

  • Ian Heinisch vs. Markus Perez Echeimberg – for vacant middleweight title
  • Andrew Kapel vs. Gilbert Smith
  • Maycee Barber vs. Mallory Martin

For more on LFA 22, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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