Analysis

A1 Combat 21 Co-Main Event Breakdown

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Memorial Day weekend and A1 Combat events have become an annual holiday tradition since the promotion rebranded from Firepower MMA in the spring of 2022. This week, for the third year in a row, Urijah Faber‘s organization commemorates the extended holiday weekend by holding a card.

Just eight days removed from A1 Combat 20 on May 18, the promotion returns to action again on Saturday night for a full night of MMA, plus a special attraction in the main event. A1 Combat 21 (main card 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT, UFC Fight Pass after prelims at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT on YouTube) is headlined by a combat jiu-jitsu match versing Faber with Jeff Glover. More on that fight later on in the week.

All told, 12 fights will be held across the combative disciplines on Saturday night from Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, CA. Headlining the MMA portion of the show is the battle for the A1 Combat Lightweight Championship in the A1 Combat 21 co-main event.

Avalos Fights Cornell Saturday

Current A1 Combat Lightweight Champion Christian Avalos (4-1 MMA, 3-0 A1 Combat) appears in his first fight since being elevated to permanent champion squares off against challenger Justin Cornell (5-2 MMA, 2-1 A1 Combat) in the co-main event of the evening.

As with all MMA fights on the regional scene in California, the A1 Combat 21 co-main event will be an advertised three rounds at five minutes per round to close the show. Back in January of this year, the California State Athletic Commission mandated that all MMA contests taking place regionally in the state had to be three rounds in length.

This policy also applies to championship fights.

A1 Combat 21 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the A1 Combat 21 co-main event on Saturday, both champion and challenger stand level in height at 5-foot-10. No reach advantage was accessible online at press time.

Currently, no betting odds are available for A1 Combat 21 over the weekend. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight in MMA this week, please wager responsibly.

Christian Avalos Makes First Appearance Since Being Elevated to Permanent Champ

Champion Christian Avalos has posted a record of 4-1 since turning professional in November of 2018. Currently, he’s on a three-fight winning streak.

Last time out, he scored a first-round submission by way of rear-naked choke against Anthony Figueroa (4-2 MMA,¬† on Feb. 22 in A1 Combat 18’s co-main event from Tachi Palace in Lemoore, CA. At the time of the win, Avalos was awarded the promotion’s interim lightweight championship.

Subsequent to that fight, Avalos was bumped up to permanent champion status after now-former titleholder Alejandro Sanchez (14-3 MMA, 2-0 A1 Combat) vacated the strap. During a recent interview with Michael Hernandez, Avalos discussed seeing Justin Cornell fight back in March.

“It was a close fight, to be honest, it was like back-and-forth,” Avalos said of Cornell’s March 29 fight against Lucas Martino, “even though he had the pressure on him. I wasn’t too impressed, though, to be honest. I wasn’t impressed with that performance. He ain’t going to be able to do that against ‘The Landshark’. He’s going to find out real soon.”

Christian Avalos is a man who earned the permanent 155-lb. strap in A1 Combat when Alejandro Sanchez relinquished the belt. Avalos winning the permanent championship might have been an eventuality given his undefeated record, but it’s a reality now as he goes into the A1 Combat 21 co-main event.

Will he be able to keep the title past Saturday night? Tune in and find out.

Justin Cornell Looks for Second-Longest Winning Streak of Career

In the other corner, Justin Cornell has gone 3-2 in his last five fights. On March 29, he outlasted Lucas Martino (3-3 MMA, 1-2 A1 Combat) by split decision in a rematch of a Muay-Thai contest fought on Jan. 13.

After the fight, Cornell talked to the aforementioned Michael Hernandez about the victory.

“Honestly, I was having fun throwing down, not having to worry about getting wrestled around the whole (expletive deleted) ring for (expletive deleted) 15 minutes of non-stop wrestling. I like to come in, I like to throw some punches, fight. It was a good fight, a fun fight. Lucas was a good, fun fighter. Just made a good, fun fight for the night.”

At the start of Cornell’s pro MMA career, he rattled off three wins in a row from November of 2017 to September of 2019. He hasn’t had any type of sustained winning streak since. Will he win his second in a row?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the A1 Combat 21 co-main event is a toss-up. Both champion and challenger are adept on the ground.

Look For Avalos to Sink in an RNC

Statistically speaking, all of Avalos’ wins have come by submission. Just look at the tape of his fight in February against Figueroa.

Although Figueroa managed to stave off an early submission effort by Avalos, his momentum was short-lived thanks to Avalos taking his back. This one stuck, with Avalos clasping his hands across Figueroa’s neck before transitioning to ground and pound shots, softening Figueroa up for the eventual rear-naked choke late in round one.

If Christian Avalos can dump Justin Cornell as little as once, his first defense of the title is a successful one.

Justin Cornell Can Tire Out His Opponents

In the other corner, look for Justin Cornell to drop Christian Avalos’ tank to empty in the A1 Combat 21 co-main event. His fight vs. Martino from March is an example. During the fight, he landed strikes throughout while absorbing a few from Martino.

While he was throwing and landing shots with regularity, he mixed up his attacks to keep Martino honest and forcing him to get off his gameplan. When you can make an opponent second-guess while in the cage, like Justin Cornell did repeatedly against Lucas Martino did back in March, you effectively seize control of the fight before your opponent gets even so much as a sliver of an opportunity.

Cornell has to come out right from the opening bell on Saturday night and take momentum all for himself.

Final Thoughts

Even though this is only a co-main event, expect the fighters to treat this one with the same intensity as a headlining bout. Don’t miss the A1 Combat 21 co-main event.

Prediction: Christian Avalos by First-Round Submission.

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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.