Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) CEO Ed Soares announced this week that the promotion will have a new co-main event at LFA 22 when the promotion returns to Colorado on Friday.
The new co-main event of LFA 22 will feature a rematch between former RFA welterweight champions Gilbert Smith and Benjamin Smith. The change came when Benjamin Smith’s friend and teammate Andrew Kapel was injured during training and withdrew from the bout. Benjamin Smith offered to step up to take the fight on 5 days’s notice to get one last shot at his old rival Gilbert Smith. The change sets up a rematch of one of the most memorable title fights in RFA history.
The main event of LFA 22 will see Colorado’s own Ian “The Hurricane” Heinisch face Brazilian dynamo and fellow undefeated prospect Markus “Maluko” Perez for the vacant LFA middleweight world title. LFA 22 – Heinisch vs. Perez takes place this Friday, September 8th at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado. The entire main card will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
“Gilbert Smith lost his opponent Andrew Kapel due to injury,” stated Soares. “Benjamin Smith offered to step up in his place on 5 days’ notice. This sets up a rematch of one of the most memorable title fights in RFA history. Gilbert defeated Benjamin for the RFA welterweight title two summers ago at the 1STBANK Center. He will look to do it again in his retirement fight this Friday at LFA 22, while Benjamin looks to avenge the loss that made him surrender his title at RFA 26.”
The main event of LFA 22 will see the top American middleweight prospect Ian Heinisch (8-0) face the top Brazilian middleweight prospect Markus Perez (8-0) for the vacant LFA middleweight world title. The title was vacated in July when the inaugural LFA middleweight champion Eryk Anders signed with the UFC.
Heinisch received plenty of fanfare when he signed with the LFA earlier this year. This was due to the fact that Heinisch is widely regarded as one of the top middleweight prospects in the world. The two-time Colorado state wrestling champion from Ponderosa High School lived up to media and fans’ lofty expectations, and then some, when he made his highly-anticipated LFA debut in the main event of LFA 10. Heinisch quickly dispatched the well-versed Brazilian powerhouse Lucas Rota in less than a round with a rare Ude-Garami (Keylock) from Kesa-Gatame (Scarf Hold). This positioned him at the front of the line for a title shot. The 29-year-old will now get the opportunity to fight for the vacant LFA middleweight title in front of his home crowd at LFA 22.
Perez is perhaps the only middleweight prospect in the world that can match the intrigue surrounding Heinisch. This is due in large part to the fact that Perez has been just as dominant in his native Brazil as Heinisch has been stateside. The man known as “Maluko” will be making his highly-anticipated international MMA debut on the heels of back-to-back wins over UFC veterans Ildemar Alcântara and Paulo Thiago. Those wins saw Perez’s stock as a top prospect skyrocket as Alcântara and Thiago have a combined 20 fights in the UFC between the two of them. The 27-year-old is now eager to showcase his talents outside of Brazil for the first time. He will get that opportunity on Friday when he fights for the vacant LFA middleweight title.
The co-main event of LFA 22 will feature the farewell fight of one of Colorado’s most beloved and accomplished fighters when Gilbert Smith (12-6) gets his hands wrapped and throws down one last time in front of his adoring home crowd. The proud Coloradan has enjoyed an MMA career that has seen him reach the highest levels of the sport.
The U.S. Army veteran and Colorado Springs resident competed on two seasons of the UFC’s hit reality television show The Ultimate Fighter. Along with being a memorable cast member on TUF 17 and TUF 25, Smith competed for the UFC and Bellator, as well as both RFA and Legacy FC before the two promotions merged to form LFA at the beginning of the year. During his time with RFA, Smith won the welterweight world title.
The man that will now be standing across the Octagon from Smith at LFA 22 will be a man Gilbert Smith knows all too well. That would be Benjamin Smith (15-4), the man Gilbert submitted in the third round of their title fight at RFA 26. Many consider the fluid and dramatic armbar that Gilbert used to dethrone Benjamin the biggest win of Gilbert’s career. Benjamin lost his title that night and would only compete twice more before retiring from the sport himself. However, Benjamin jumped at the chance to come out of retirement to avenge that loss ,when his friend and training partner Andrew Kapel was injured over the weekend.
LFA 22 Main Card (Televised on AXS TV at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT):
- Main Event | Middleweight Title Bout (185 lb)
– Ian Heinisch (8-0) vs. Markus Perez (8-0)
- Co-Main Event | Catchweight Bout (180 lb)
– Gilbert Smith (12-6) vs. Benjamin Smith (15-4)
- Bantamweight Bout (135 lb)
– Chris Gutierrez (10-3-1) vs. Mario Israel (10-3)
- Featherweight Bout (145 lb)
– Derek Brenon (4-0) vs. Boimah Karmo (4-2)
- Flyweight Bout (125 lb)
– Brandon Royval (5-3) vs. Demetrius Wilson (5-1)
- Women’s Strawweight Bout (115 lb)
– Maycee Barber (1-0) vs. Mallory Martin (1-1)
- Welterweight Bout (170 lb)
– Mike Jones (5-3) vs. Adam Vigil (3-0)