Vacant A1 Combat Bantamweight Championship Breakdown

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On the last weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday inside the United States, college football conference championship berths aren’t the only spots getting clinched in sports. MMA promotions are handing out belts left and right this weekend.

Between Friday night and Sunday afternoon, absent of any postponements throughout fight week, a total of eight championships will be awarded across three promotions. California’s A1 Combat is giving out half of these available belts this Saturday night.

Vacant Bantamweight Gold at Stake Saturday at Hard Rock Live

Supremacy at 135 lbs. will be on the line when A1 Combat crowns a new bantamweight champion this weekend. Cristhian Rivas (9-2-1 MMA, 1-1 A1 Combat) meets Dwight Joseph (12-2, 1 NC MMA, A1 Combat promotional debut.) Its winner will become the new A1 Combat Bantamweight Champion, succeeding former titleholder Payton Talbott (6-0 MMA, 3-0 A1 Combat).

Talbott won a UFC contract late this summer on Contender Series and will make his promotional debut this Saturday before A1 Combat 15 against Nick Aguirre (7-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) during the main card.  The championship fight will be an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round.

Fighter Comparison

Heading into the vacant championship fight on Saturday night, Dwight Joseph stands as the taller man at 5-foot-7, compared to the 5-foot-5 frame of Cristhian Rivas. Joseph owns a 67 1/2-inch reach, with no such information for Rivas at press time.

Will Rivas Be Next to Go to UFC?

Cristhian Rivas has posted a 4-1 record over the course of his last five fights. Most recently, he returned to the win column thanks to a decision victory against Abdikabyl Kaldar (4-2 MMA, 2-1 A1 Combat) back in August.

Rivas has been around the regional MMA circuit for a while. Prior to joining the A1 Combat active roster in March ahead of a failed championship bid against the aforementioned Payton Talbott, he went undefeated at 4-0 as a member of Ultimate Warrior Challenge’s roster from October of 2021 to July of 2022.

While in UWC in Mexico, Rivas was successful under the main event spotlight versus Mahatma Garcia in his last fight before leaving the promotion. Although he will not be fighting in a main event this week, it’s still a notable affair for him nonetheless.

Winning a vacant championship is undoubtedly quite a boon for his resume. A victory here could mean that Cristhian Rivas is only a few steps away from going to the UFC.

Dwight Joseph Comes in on Eight-Month Layoff

In the other corner, Dwight Joseph comes in sporting a 4-1 record over his last five contests. He’ll be looking to get back into the win column on Saturday night after dropping a unanimous decision against Eric Shelton (17-8 MMA) in March.

Before the fight against Shelton, he hadn’t been in a fight since March 19, 2022, when he bested Taylor Moore (11-8 MMA) by unanimous decision. Having a number of lengthy layoffs is never good news for a fighter’s progression through his or her MMA career.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

This one looks to be an entertaining affair. Both of these guys can bring the fireworks when necessary. Get your popcorn ready before tuning in.

Rivas is Brutal with Knockouts

Even though Cristhian Rivas had to fight at featherweight against Gilberto Santos last year, carrying around the extra weight didn’t bother him one bit. He still scored the knockout in the third round, but he had to go down to the final minute to get it.

With two and a half minutes to go, Rivas landed some punches to the back of Santos’ head to soften him up. Although Santos covered up, Rivas’ attacks were unstoppable. Every time Santos got up, Rivas would just take him to the mat again.

He was a tough customer to beat that night, scoring the knockout with 18 seconds left on the clock.

Dwight Joseph Can End Things Quickly

In the other corner, Dwight Joseph is also adept at knocking a guy out. Just watch the footage of his fight against Baron Muller. During round one, Joseph took Mueller down and pinned him against the cage fence, where he wouldn’t let him up.

At that point, Joseph went to work with ground and pound shots until the ref intervened after two minutes and five seconds.

Final Thoughts

While this championship fight won’t get the lion’s share of the headlines for the MMA weekend, this is one you can’t sleep on. The previous bantamweight champion from A1 Combat’s already in the UFC and the new champion could be soon to follow him.

Prediction: Cristhian Rivas by Unanimous Decision. 

Hard Rock Live in Wheatland, CA (near the state capital of Sacramento) will be the host venue for A1 Combat 15: Night of Champions. UFC Fight Pass will carry the main card live Saturday at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT after the YouTube prelims at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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