AFL 19: Night of Champions Preview

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AFL 19: Night of Champions is set to take place Saturday March 30, 2019, from Gran Canaria, Spain. The card is stacked with FIVE title fights and a grand total of 13 fights. All fighters made weight the day prior to fight night so all fights are set. CEO Fran Montiel is working hard to put Spain on the MMA map. This is the card that might do it. The only place to catch the card is on Fite.TV which will air at 12:00 noon EST.

FIVE Title Fights

Nowadays, we are used to seeing a title fight serve as the main event of a card. We might even be lucky enough to see another title fight as the co-main event. AFL is going way beyond that serving up five title fights on one card. The five title fights are set up as follows:

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Featherweight: Daniel Requeijo (14-7) vs. Nicolas Joannes (17-14)

Light Heavyweight: (C)Darwin Rodriguez (6-4) vs. Amilcar Alves (18-16)

Flyweight: (C)Raymison Bruno (11-1) vs. Kevin Cordero (7-2)

Super Lightweight: Dragan Pesic (17-16) vs. Lionel Padilla (5-1)

Bantamweight: Thiago Martins (12-11) vs. Zebenzui Ruiz (7-3)

Main Event Featherweight Title Matchup

Daniel Requeijo makes his return to the AFL cage, last appearing at AFL 14. Since then he has a split record of 1-1, including a showing in Combate Americas. Requeijo has ten finishes in 14 of his wins (note: Tapology lists the other four victories without method of victory.) Seven of those victories are submissions, so Requeijo has several ways to potentially finish Joannes and gain the vacant featherweight title. This is a definite contrast in styles as Nicolas Joannes, the French veteran, has won the majority of his victories by decision. The longer the contest draws out, the better the odds become for Joannes to claim the vacant title. He needs to watch for the early onslaught and try stay off of the mat.

Light Heavyweight Title Defense

Champion Darwin Rodriguez will walk into the AFL cage with gold, and will be looking to walk out the same way. Rodriguez is on a four-fight winning streak with all four victories coming by knockout, including his fourth round knockout at AFL 15 against Ricardo Echarte to earn the AFL light heavyweight belt. Look for the Spaniard to push the pace and retain his title on home turf against a foreign invader. The foreigner looking to spoil the party is that of 34 professional fight Brazilian veteran Amilcar Alves. Alves has a wealth of experience fighting all over the world including a few bouts in the UFCAlves does have an impressive victory over Aleksandar Ilic, who recently defeated Damian Janikowski via vicious headkick at KSW 47.

Flyweight King Looking to Defend his Crown

Flyweight champion, Raymison Bruno, Tapology’s #1 Western European flyweight, is set to take on top-ranked Kevin Cordero. Bruno (11-1) is coming off of an impressive win over former Bellator and BAMMA fighter Pietro Menga, who was 13-0 at the time. His lone loss is a submission loss less than one minute into the bout. Bruno was caught and has rebounded nicely ever since. Bruno is a grinder and pushes his opponents to the very last bell, usually getting the nod in his direction. Look for Bruno to push the pace on Cordero and earn the title via dominate decision.

This fight will be another class of styles. Cordero is an absolute finisher, winning his last three bouts by first round submission, going 3-1 in that time-frame. That lone loss was in the highly touted Cage Warriors promotion where he was defeated by Liam Gittins at Cage Warriors 96. Look for this match-up to have Fight of the Night potential.

Super Lightweight Will Crown Inaugural Champion

The super lightweight division is new to the world of MMA, and AFL is fully on board with the division, which falls between lightweight and welterweight. Battling for the initial crown will be Spain’s own Lionel Padilla. Padilla will hope to have the home field advantage, fighting in his native Spain and continue his winning ways in AFL. Padilla will be coming down from welterweight and looking to utilize a size advantage to control his veteran opponent. Across the cage will be one of the most experienced fighters on the card, the 33 professional fight veteran Dragan Pesic. Most of Pesic’s finishes have come by first round finish. Look for the Slavic native to bait in Padilla and try to catch him for a finish. If Padilla isn’t careful, Pesic could walk away with the inaugural super lightweight title very early into this bout.

Bantamweight Title Fight with Submission of the Night Potential

Another chance for Brazil to take home gold is by the means of Thiago Martins. He will looking for revenge against his opponent Zebenzui Ruiz, who he lost to via decision in October, 2016. Though fighters evolve and grow over time, especially when a rematch occurs years apart, Martins has hit a rough patch with a record of 3-5 in that time frame. But all three of the wins are finishes, including a 15 second knockout of 20 plus professional victor Marc Gomez Sariol at World Fight Tour 7. Ruiz is just as dangerous with the finishes, with all four of his victories on Tapology that provide a method of victory being by finish. He has submitted his last three opponents in a row, either in the first or second round. This bout has all the potential for fireworks, being a rematch with much at stake.

Others to Watch 

Undefeated Spanish featherweight Jose Sanchez is set to put his undefeated (6-0) record on the line as he battles the 4-1 Brazilian Alberth Dias. Both fighters are young and hungry looking to put the other away and make an emphatic statement to the AFL featherweight division. Polish fighters are always known to put on an amazing show. Middleweight Konrad Iwanowski will be no different in the AFL cage. The former Cage Warriors and KSW veteran will look to put on a showing against Acoidan Duque who is on a hot streak of his own, winning his last three bouts.

The headliner on the prelims features WMMA action as professional debuter Elizabeth Rodrigues takes on Rita Marrero. However, little is known of the Venezuelan strawweight Rodrigues, which makes for an intriguing matchup with the Spaniard Marrero. The two were supposed to fight in December 2018 at at AFL 18:Portugal but the bout was unable to happen. The extra wait always draws more tension between eager competitors.

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Matt's love and passion for martial arts began at the age of four with Taekwondo. Matt later trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while serving nearly ten years in law enforcement. Matt has just recently discovered his passion of writing on mixed martial arts.

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