One of the hottest promotions in regional MMA is back this weekend with a stacked card, as Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship comes live to AXS TV on Friday. Headlined by UFC veterans Paul Buentello and James McSweeney, this card promises fireworks and great MMA action all around.

Also on the card are Legacy veterans and big-show fighters such as Artenas Young, Joseph Sandoval and Lucas Pimenta. They support a card that lost its main event not long ago, until McSweeney stepped up on late notice for Marcus Sursa.

Let’s take a look at the Legacy FC card fight by fight and make some predictions.

LHW: Paul Buentello (32-15) vs. James McSweeney (11-10)

The main event sees UFC veterans meet, as former contender Paul Buentello goes up against TUF 10 veteran James McSweeney. This will continue a shuffle between weight classes for McSweeney, who has been taking bouts in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. This, surprisingly, will be contested at light heavyweight.

Buentello is a tick shy of 40 years old, but that has not slowed him down. The striker has thrown down four times since the start of 2012, running up a 3-1 record. He has fought a who’s-who of fighters in the sport over his career, including Tim Sylvia and Alistair Overeem. There is no secret to his game plan. He is going to strike, despite the fact that striking is the strength of his opposition.

McSweeney has been practicing Muay Thai and kickboxing for a large chunk of his life. The Englishman, whose weakness is grappling, works with the world-renowned Robert Drysdale to improve his mat work, but with Buentello’s willingness to strike, that shouldn’t come into play in this outing. Although his record is near the .500 mark, McSweeney has gone 5-1 since 2012, including wins over notables Felise Leniu and Dion Staring.

Buentello would be wise to try to put McSweeney against the cage and grind him in a workmanlike performance. That being said, Buentello likes to bang, which will play right into McSweeney’s hands. McSweeney has been knocked out his fair share of times, so he will need to tuck his chin and keep his hands up. Based on his recent performances, the Brit should be able to outstrike Buentello, but not finish the tough-as-nails Texan.

WW: Artenas Young (9-5) vs. Eric Davila (20-12)

A couple of Texas-based fighters who are no strangers to the Legacy cage will meet at 170 pounds when Bellator Fight Master castoff Artenas Young scraps with Eric “Bighead” Davila. Both men struggle to find consistency, though they have shown promise in their respective careers.

Young is a physical specimen with crazy power, but a questionable gas tank. Though he owns a keynote win over Elvis Mutapcic, Young’s cardio was exposed on Fight Master when he went 100 miles-per-hour out of the gate and slowed to a crawl by the end of the bout. He has good punching power and a quick shot, which are his most important assets when meeting Davila.

Having been on the Texas regional circuit since 1998, Davila is the much more experienced fighter. Though he has dropped two straight to Dave Menne and Gerald Harris, the submission fighter ran up an impressive four-fight winning streak previous to that. In fact, he tapped out Legacy headliner Pete Spratt with a guillotine choke and knocked out Brock Larson in seven seconds in that streak.

Though Davila is a submission specialist, he has been tapped out seven times. However, he’s not fighting a grappler, so Davila will need to worry about an on-the-feet scrap with Young, who has great stopping power in his hands. If Davila can weather the early storm, he should be able to get Young tired and either tap him out or get the judges’ approval for a decision.

BW: Aaron Cerda (6-3) vs. George Pacurariu (5-1)

A couple of dark-horse bantamweight prospects will collide when once-beaten George Pacurariu makes the drop to 135 pounds against Tye, Texas, native Aaron Cerda. This bout could serve as a Ryan Benoit-type situation for the winner, as Benoit gained great notoriety from a win and a little bit of main-card exposure.

At just 23 years old, it would be hard to think that Cerda’s best days aren’t ahead of him. The kid is 6-3 already and has looked impressive every time he has fought. Never finished in his three losses, the durable Cerda uses solid wrestling to get opponents down so he can use ground-and-pound, as well as submissions, to neutralize them. His biggest win to date came at the expense of Greg Jackson disciple Frank Gomez last year. Cerda messed up Gomez’s eye with brutal strikes.

Meeting Cerda is former featherweight Pacurariu, who has not tasted defeat since 2008. The well-rounded Pacurariu is going to be the bigger, stronger fighter of the two, though he has some comparable skills to Cerda. His biggest win to date came under the Legacy banner in his last fight when he cleanly knocked out Steven Peterson with one punch.

It will be interesting to see how the drop to 135 will affect Pacurariu’s body. If his body responds well to the cut, this is his fight to lose. If it’s a tough cut, it could hurt his gas tank and lead to a paced approach from Cerda. The former is more likely, as Pacurariu runs a convincing decision.

Catchweight (175 pounds): Lucas Pimenta (8-2) vs. Brandon Farran (7-7)

A catchweight bout is afoot as normal welterweights Brandon Farran and Lucas Pimenta meet five pounds over what their normal fighting weight. Both men are Texas-based fighters, though Pimenta hails from Brazil.

A member of Jorge Patino’s crew at Macaco Gold Team, Pimenta trains with the likes of Patino and Charles Oliveira. Pimenta recently lost to Jeff Rexroad, but before that he suffered the hell of not getting paid for a three-fight tournament win in the UWF promotion. He got a chunk of that money recently, but is now lucky to be with a respectable promotion like Legacy. Pimenta has won most of his fights via knockout, a testament to his work with Patino.

Farran is just a .500 fighter on paper, but he is a finisher. All seven of his wins have come via knockout or submission. His biggest victory came at the expense of Cleburn Walker, noted for his short time on The Ultimate Fighter 11. Given his skill set compared to Pimenta, it would be wise for Farran to take the Brazilian to the ground and blanket him with a heavy top position game.

Though Farran could always pull an upset, this fight extremely favors Pimenta. The Brazilian has consistently faced higher-level opposition with a good success rate and tends to finish adversaries with his knockout power. Farran will likely take a nap at the hands of Pimenta.

LW: Justin Reiswerg (5-2) vs. Anselmo Luna Jr. (7-4)

Lightweight counterparts continue the parade of Texas talent, as Legacy mainstay Justin Reiswerg takes on Shark Fights veteran and company newcomer Anselmo Luna Jr. Both men are under 30 and looking to expose themselves to a more mainstream audience.

Luna currently finds himself on a two-fight skid, but he earned his biggest win to date previous to that streak when he defeated TUF 15 cast member Cody Pfister. Possessing knockout power and a killer instinct, Luna enters the company on the strength of five fights in fellow Texas-based promotion Shark Fights, where he went 3-2.

Known as “Wolverine,” Reiswerg is 4-1 with Legacy. His only loss came to two-fight UFC veteran Pat Audinwood. A dangerous submission artist, Reiswerg would figure to get this fight to the ground, where he can then use his ground-and-pound and an arsenal of tapouts. In fact, getting this fight to the ground is the difference between a win and getting his clock cleaned by the powerful Luna.

Reiswerg possesses the takedown ability and aggressive style to achieve his goal of planting Luna on the canvas. The “Wolverine,” who owns armbar and triangle choke victories, will target the upper body of Luna, who has been tapped with an armbar recently. Reiswerg will get the tap and some deserved attention for his effort.

FlyW: Jonathan Lopez (4-1) vs. Joseph Sandoval (6-4)

Flyweights kick off the main card on AXS TV. UFC veteran Joseph Sandoval takes on once-beaten prospect Jonathan Lopez, who will put his four-fight winning streak up against the four-fight skid of Sandoval.

At 22, Lopez is quite young in his MMA career. The submission fighter is yet to get a marquee win that will put him on the map. However, a win over an established name like Sandoval would definitely do the trick. Lopez last fought in June for C3’s Oklahoma tornado benefit, where he submitted William Stimmel in the first round with a rear-naked choke. The best bet for Lopez is to get Sandoval on his back here.

As for the UFC vet, he looks to reverse his poor fortune that began with his journey in the UFC. Sandoval has notched recent losses against Walel Watson, Nick Denis, Chad Robichaux and Ryan Benoit, all of whom needed less than 80 seconds to put away the Bighead MMA product. Previous to that, Sandoval was undefeated while beating Texas notable Douglas Frey via strikes. Though three of his losses have come via knockout, Sandoval needs to keep this fight upright, since he does have some good knockout power for a small guy.

This fight really relies on two things: whether Lopez can get Sandoval down and whether Sandoval can touch Lopez’s chin. Sandoval’s experience is a definite plus, but one has to wonder where his head is at since his last four fights have lasted a combined 3:32. This will be Lopez’s coming-out party. He’ll get Sandoval down a couple of times en route to a close decision that favors the 22-year-old prospect.

Preliminary Card

LW: Dustin Roe (0-0) vs. Jesse Moreno (1-0)

Youngsters Dustin Roe and Jesse Moreno go at it at 155 pounds. Roe makes his professional debut on the heels of a 1-0 amateur record that saw him earn a 36-second armbar victory. Roe works with Ralph Gracie’s gym to strengthen the grappling skills that he already possesses. Moreno’s only pro appearance saw him earn a decision victory back in April. He notably took an amatuer loss to Ben Fodor, the crime-fighting superhero brother of Caros Fodor. Despite a slight disadvantage in experience, Roe will get the takedown and tap Moreno out in the first round.

FlyW: Jeremy Valderaz (1-3) vs. Jason Gallegos (0-0)

Flyweights collide on the undercard when the debuting Jason Gallegos meets Jeremy Valderaz. Valderaz’s only win so far came via unanimous decision against main-card fighter Jonathan Lopez in June of 2012. If Gallegos is a finisher, then he has the ability to put away Valderaz, who has been tapped and knocked out. Based on experience and the Lopez win, Valderaz should be able to move his record to 2-3.

FlyW: Gino Davila (2-2) vs. Jon Voth (2-1)

Gino Davila, brother of co-main eventer Eric Davila, makes the drop from featherweight to flyweight to take on Jon Voth, who also makes a drop, but his drop is from bantamweight. Davila, a Shark Fights veteran is just 5-foot-5 and could afford to at least drop one weight class, and he is smart to drop two divisions for this fight. He works with his brother at Bighead MMA, which is where he hones his submission grappling chops. Voth has three fights in the last three years, all of which have been finishes. He will likely be at a slight experience and size disadvantage, which will play into Gino’s hands. Davila will grab a tapout at some point in the bout.

FW: Javier Minjarez (1-0) vs. Santana Martinez (0-0)

In a rematch from an amateur bout that took place in January, Javier Minjarez looks to move to 2-0 when he takes on the debuting Santana Martinez. Minjarez won their first encounter via unanimous decision. Minjarez has shown some growth since his amateur days, as seen in his knockout win over Albert Martinez. Santana will prove tough, but Minjarez should take another decision in this fight.

SHW: George Trujillo (1-2) vs. Eric Lundsford (0-0)

In super heavyweight action, 300-plus pound George Trujillo meets normal heavyweight and debuting professional Eric Lundsford. Lundsford, who also works in law enforcement, was a 2-1 amateur with both wins coming via armlock. Trujillo, the obviously heavier fighter, won his only pro fight by submission. His only losses are via knockout, but he is the heavier, larger fighter in this match-up. Trujillo will get the fight down, smother Lundsford and earn a stoppage.

LHW: Bruno Bastos (1-3) vs. Gabriel Garcia (3-4-1)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Bruno Bastos looks to move closer to the .500 mark when he takes on the more experienced Gabriel Garcia, who looks to level off his record as well. Bastos notably fought to a split decision back in 2006 against UFC vet Rousimar Palhares. His only chance is on the ground against Garcia. Once Bastos gets Garcia down, he will use his nasty submission game to take the fight.

WW: Daniel Perez (0-1) vs. Thomas Moreno (0-0)

Thomas Moreno skips an amateur career and jumps straight in the shark tank to take on returning professional Daniel Perez. Perez dropped his pro debut, but earned a TKO in just 40 seconds in his only amateur bout. He has the power to hurt guys, especially with his wild brawling style. He will welcome Moreno to the division with a mid-round TKO to get in the win column.

FW: Larry Garcia (1-5) vs. Joe Saucedo (0-1)

Plainview, Texas, native Larry Garcia looks to halt a five-fight skid when he takes on one-time pro Joe Saucedo at 145 pounds. Saucedo’s only bout saw him succumb to a tapout, something that Garcia will be looking to expose. Both men have nothing to lose in this fight, so they will come out firing and looking for the finish. Look for the more experienced Garcia to finally get out of the loss column with a submission of Saucedo.

Photo: Paul Buentello (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.