Resurrection Fighting Alliance returns to AXS TV this weekend with a star-studded card. The feeder organization for the UFC recently inked a deal with Adidas, showing that the company has firm supporters to back it up and the potential to become one of the best companies in MMA.

Headlining the card will be a bantamweight title bout between Pedro Munoz and Jeff Curran. Curran, who originally was supposed to fight Sergio Pettis for the flyweight title at a recent event before withdrawing from the contest, replaces Keoni Koch, who was forced to bow out of this title tilt with an injury. Now Curran’s road back to the UFC runs through a pivotal bantamweight bout that could see him carry home gold.

The card is supported by big-show veterans and budding prospects alike. So, without further ado, here is a preview of the full card and accompanying predictions for this weekend’s exciting card, which takes place Friday, Aug. 16, at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles and airs on AXS TV with a start time of 10 p.m. ET.

BW Championship: Jeff Curran (34-15-1) vs. Pedro Munhoz (8-0)

The main event sees big-show veteran and longtime scrapper Jeff Curran step up to take on top prospect Pedro Munhoz. For the winner, a gold belt that proclaims that they are the best fighter in the company at that weight class. For the loser, an even longer road back to the big show.

Munhoz is a submission fighter that relies heavily on jiu-jitsu and top control. He has used these assets when defeating opponents such as Bill Kamery and Mitch Jackson, both under the RFA banner. Obviously, he is yet to take a loss, but only two of his fights have gone to the judges. He prefers to tap out his adversaries, as seen in his last four wins.

He will face an interesting challenge in Curran. Munhoz, as mentioned, is a grappler, but he is taking on a high-level jiu-jitsu artist in Curran, who may also have the better wrestling. This could lead to an all-striking affair, which would likely lean in the favor of “Big Frog.”

That being said, Munhoz works with Kings MMA and Black House, which means he has probably been working on his striking diligently. Curran has good movement on the feet and solid fundamentals, so it actually may be a sloppy kickboxing bout between the two.

Experience and well-roundedness may be the two biggest factors in this fight. When looking at those two keys, Curran definitely has the edge, as he owns 50 pro fights to Munhoz’s eight bouts. Plus, Munhoz is primarily a grappler, whereas Curran is more comfortable if things are kept on the feet. Curran will likely notch a decision in what could be a hit-or-miss fight.

MW: Kevin Casey (5-3) vs. Casey Ryan (5-0)

Middleweights collide in the co-main event when TUF 17 and Strikeforce alum Kevin Casey makes his return to the cage for the first time since being cut by the UFC to take on intriguing prospect Casey Ryan. Like the main event, this is a grappler vs. grappler match, which means it could see a decent amount of time on the feet.

Casey is a bull in terms of strength, that much can not be disputed. However, the biggest knock on him is that he doesn’t have a good gas tank. This was apparent in his stint on TUF. His record also supports this conclusion. The longer the fight goes, the less chance Casey emerges with a victory. He is 1-3 in fights that leave the first round, whereas he is undefeated in fights that were five minutes or less.

On a positive note, Casey has very good jiu-jitsu and a heavy top game. His takedowns are aided by the fact that he is so physically gifted. Once he gets the fight down, he has a knack for the tapout, as three of his five wins are via submission.

Ryan is also a submission artist and is looking to make his name off an established veteran like Casey. Ryan, who trains with Alliance MMA alongside the likes of Phil Davis, Dominick Cruz and company, is also accustomed to one-round fights, with all but one of his bouts ending within the first frame.

Ryan will not be as strong as “King,” but he is lankier and probably has better endurance. He should look to wear Casey down and pounce on him late. A referee stoppage in Ryan’s favor in the second or third stanza would definitely not be out of the question.

FlyW: Steve Swanson (10-1) vs. Matt Manzanares (4-1)

Two intriguing flyweight prospects will meet when once-beaten fighters Steve Swanson and Matt Manzanares square off in a pivotal bout. Both men bring exciting styles to the cage, which could lead to a potential “Fight of the Night” scenario.

Swanson, the brother of UFC veteran and current contender Cub Swanson, has been nothing short of impressive in his four-year MMA career. The Greg Jackson disciple is a knockout artist who is continuing to develop his grappling. Unfortunately for Swanson, he is coming off a loss in his latest bout, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that scenario when he re-enters the cage for the first time since then.

Manzanares has a similar skill set to Swanson, which could make this bout a barnburner. He is not nearly as experienced as his adversary, but he has never gone to a decision, much in part due to his nasty striking. Between Manzanares and Swanson, no part of the body will be safe, as both men have ended fights with strikes to the body, head and legs.

Whatever happens, just know this one is not going to the judges. Both men are head (and body) hunters and will be looking to go big or go home. At this point, Swanson possesses more experience and better coaches. That will allow him to fight smarter than Manzanares when things get sticky, and he will find the knockout at some point.

FW: Jordan Rinaldi (6-1) vs. Brian Ortega (6-0)

TUF veteran and featherweight staple Jordan Rinaldi makes his return to the RFA cage when he takes on Black House member and young gun Brian Ortega. Both men bring a solid grappling regiment, so this could be a chess match on the mat.

Rinaldi took his first-ever loss in his latest bout when he dropped a decision to Jared Downing. Rinaldi has solid wrestling chops, but can also strike a tad. Most of his wins have come via submission, including a tap of UFC veteran and current featherweight staple Dennis Bermudez.

Ortega has yet to get that marquee win that most MMA fighters look for, but he could definitely find it here if he defeats Rinaldi. Like his counterpart, Ortega is a submission fighter, though he likely has some solid striking coaching in working at Black House. It’s doubtful that his wrestling is on par with that of Rinaldi, but he is more than comfortable to grapple off his back and attempt to use sweeps.

Ortega is solid, but he simply is too unproven at this point. Rinaldi has been around the block once or twice and has the benefit of national exposure through TUF. Ortega will prove tough, but Rinaldi should score a decision in his favor.

WW: Chris Spang (5-2) vs. Alan Jouban (6-1)

Fresh off his departure from the UFC, Swedish import Chris Spang meets regional vet Alan Jouban at 170 pounds. Both men like to throw hands and could provide early excitement to fans in attendance and viewing on TV, making this another brilliant match-up.

Spang was pushed into the big show early in his career and saw mixed results. Although he did pick up two wins in Strikeforce over Joe Ray and Nah-Shon Burrell, he took a loss to Ricky Legere and suffered a UFC blemish to Adlan Amagov. Spang needs to work on his ground game, but he has proven that his striking is lethal and accurate.

Jouban’s MMA career is barely two years old, but he has seen success in that short time. He has gone to decision just once, with the rest of his wins coming from his striking. The only time he was bested was when he faced a superior striker in Chidi Njokuani, who crippled him with a violent kick to the body. Other than that blemish, Jouban has been impressive.

This striking affair promises violence and pure enjoyment for fans. Both men are aggressive, move forward and throw thunder. Spang’s early exposure to high-end talent will likely prepare him for this fight with a guy who is not on the level of opponents such as Amagov and Burrell. Spang should either take a late knockout or a decision in a bout destined to please.

HW: Lew Polley (12-4) vs. Steve Mocco (2-0)

Fresh off his World Series of Fighting weigh-in fiasco, Lew Polley is back in action just a week later on short notice against heavyweight prospect Steve Mocco.

Polley is vastly experienced compared to Mocco, and he is a mountain of a man. Currently on a two-fight surge, the former wrestling coach for Team dos Santos on TUF uses his wrestling ability to ground opponents and fish for submissions. He is incredibly strong, though his gas tank may be in question.

Mocco is an Olympic-level wrestler who is dabbling in this crazy game called MMA. So far, so good for Mocco, who lacks a loss on his record at this point. His work with American Top Team has been quite beneficial for him, as it has furthered his submission prowess. In fact, both wins have come from impressive holds in the form of a kimura and a north-south choke.

Polley’s wrestling is great, but Mocco’s is vastly superior. Look for a grinding affair where both men battle for position on the fence. Polley’s cardio will come into question here, and Mocco will look to capitalize. This will be the first time the newcomer sees the judges, and they’ll give their nod in his favor.

Preliminary Card

FW: Nick Jordan (2-1) vs. Perceu Friza (1-0)

In a battle of inexperienced featherweights, American Nick Jordan welcomes Brazilian Perceu Friza to America in a battle of international combatants. Jordan’s only loss came via submission, and both wins were by decision. Friza is a Lyoto Machida follower who made his last opponent quit in between rounds in Brazil. Friza will bring his striking acumen to the United States and show fans some good skills en route to a TKO stoppage.

WW: Ricky Legere (17-4) vs. Stephen Martinez (9-2)

TUF veteran and big-show pro Ricky Legere carries a seven-fight winning streak into the cage when he takes on Stephen Martinez. The Millenia MMA product, Martinez, is a submission-savvy fighter that will be looking to put Legere on the ground. That will be easier said than done, as Legere is well-rounded and tough as nails. Legere should be able to score a TKO victory to keep his streak alive.

LW: R.J. Clifford (4-2) vs. James Moontasri (4-1)

If there is one thing that may be an x-factor for R.J. Clifford vs. James Moontasri, it is size. Clifford is more of a natural lightweight, whereas Moontasri has fought mostly as a welterweight. Will the cut be too much for Moontasri, or will his size and strength overmatch Clifford? At this point, size will trump all as Moontasri runs a decision victory.

FlyW: Justine Kish (1-0) vs. Christine Stanley (1-0)

In the only female bout of the night, undefeated counterparts Justine Kish and Christine Stanley meet in an “0-must-go” bout. Kish has not fought since 2010, when she choked out the highly respected Munah Holland with a triangle choke. Before that, she was 1-0 as an amateur. As for Stanley, the Liz Carmouche teammate has earned her one victory via TKO over a year ago. Ring rust may be a factor for both, but I trust Kish’s experience over Stanley’s potential at this point.

Photo: Jeff Curran (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.