This Friday night, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance comes to the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, CO. for RFA 20, headlined by an RFA bantamweight title bout between Jarred Mercado and Luke Sanders,  as well as a battle between Xtreme Couture product Benjamin Smith and Josh Cavan in the co-main event. The card features the likes of The Ultimate Fighter 17 veteran Gilbert Smith, The Ultimate Fighter 19 veteran Cody Mumma, former UFC competitor Alvin Robinson, and a bevy of rising prospects that look to turn in another slew of impressive outings as only the prospects in the RFA can do.

The action will air live on AXS TV with unaired prelims scheduled to take place. What follows is a breakdown of the event.

RFA bantamweight title: Jarred Mercado vs. Luke Sanders

By itself, the main event of Luke Sanders and Jarred Mercado represents one of the best bantamweight bouts outside of the UFC because both men can do it all. If fans want finishes, Sanders and Mercado can do that. If they want guys that can go hard for three to five rounds, Sanders and Mercado can oblige as well.

Mercado owns a history of scoring decisions. He grew up pushing himself against the toughest of the tough. The Northwestern alum trained alongside a group of men that included former two-time NCAA Division I champion and U.S. Olympian Jake Herbert. That experience drove Mercado to push hard when he made his transition to MMA in 2010.

Sanders owns a few wins by decision as well, but at 8-0, it’s hard to say if we have seen his best yet. The fact that Sanders now hones his craft at The MMA Lab only adds to the kid’s promise, as he gets to train with an elite crop of talent on a daily basis, including Benson Henderson, Efrain Escudero, and others who have helped Sanders add new facets to his game while helping him to maintain his killer instinct.

Both men have pressed hard to get to where they stand right now, and they would certain push aggressively for a win, even if this were just a three round bout. With the belt on the line, though, we can expect that someone will have to go through a hellacious five round dogfight to earn their title. Sanders will give everything he has to offer against Mercado, but with Mercado’s opportunity to strike it rich in his yard, Mercado will fight his heart out and walk home with the gold.

Prediction: Jarred Mercado def. Luke Sanders by unanimous decision.
Josh Cavan vs. Benjamin Smith

The co-main event sees Josh Cavan and Benjamin Smith trading leather. Smith represents the Xtreme Couture camp and rides a four-fight winning streak, while Cavan comes off of a loss to Chris Heatherly.

There was once a time when just mentioning Smith’s affiliation with the Couture camp would automatically lock him down as the favorite to win the bout. Recently though, the camp has fallen a little bit under the MMA world’s radar. Smith has used this to his advantage, training diligently with a host of solid coaches and teammates in order to ride on a streak that includes three impressive finishes.

Of course, we cannot forget Cavan, who trains out of Thomas Denny’s camp and had a four-fight winning streak of his own going for himself before running into Heatherly. That streak featured two back-to-back submissions and two split decision wins, one of which came against Brian Camozzi, brother of TUF 11’s Chris Camozzi.

Smith comes full blast with a fire that many expect out of an Xtreme Couture guy, and while Cavan is game every time he fights, going hard for any number of rounds takes on a new meaning when a guy like Cavan signs to fight a man like Smith, who has never lost on the scorecards. Of course, the great thing about MMA is that one does not necessarily need to worry about the scorecards against someone like Smith, who only owns two losses but can be forced to tap. This one may end in a rather ugly fashion, but it will end on Cavan’s terms.

Prediction: Josh Cavan def. Benjamin Smith by submission (guillotine choke). Round 3.
Gilbert Smith vs. Bojan Velickovic

Gilbert Smith has found himself on something of a tear since his release from the UFC, but a fan would not know it by looking at his record. Officially, he is coming off of a win over Ben Brewer in Legacy FC, which took a little bit of a sting away from his Titan FC 28 loss to Brian Foster, but he still sits at 4-1 in his last five bouts. Meanwhile, his opponent Bojan Velickovic stands at 3-2 in his last five, including his recent submission win in Tesla FC over Nikolay Aleksakhin.

Outside of his recent success, what can people expect out of Velickovic? The man known to some as “Veli”, much like a number of fighters on this card, owns many of his wins by submission, as well as one by knockout. Unlike some of the talent on this card, though, he has gone to decision twice, and both of those times saw him lose the decision. This is where fans may see this fight more for Smith than for “Veli”, as Smith is a 5’9″ individual that is built like a beast and has the strength to perform as such.

Smith’s big edge has been gained from out-muscling guys and taking them down, and shows more in the grappling game than anything else. When Smith sees submissions, he will use his frame to impose his dominance and secure the finish. Not to say he cannot strike when he needs to, but his forte lies more in the ground game than anything else.

In the same way that the Robinson-Serrao may deliver as one of the night’s more intriguing battles, Smith-Velickovic can do the exact same, albeit with larger men. The 25-year-old Velickovic has signed on with the RFA for a reason, but he has not faced a man that can challenge him the way Smith can. Smith will find a way to use his physical tools to put Velickovic down and chalk up another win.

Prediction: Gilbert Smith def. Bojan Velickovic by submission (rear naked choke). Round 2.
Cody Mumma vs. Colton Vaughn

Cody Mumma and Colton Vaughn aren’t names that will immediately jump out at fans, but they are names that fans might enjoy if they have a soft spot for finishers. In this particular instance, calling Mumma and Vaughn finishers alludes to more than just the “kill or be killed” mentality that both have in common.

See, when someone uses the cliche saying of “neither man likes going to decision”, they really intend to point out that neither man has ever gone to a decision in their respective careers. Mumma has seen the third round before, while Vaughn has only gone as far as round two, but both bring styles that promise a finish every single time. The question is whether Mumma can secure the finish first or if Vaughn can stifle the TUF 19 veteran.

As far as the fight itself goes, things can escalate in a heartbeat, regardless of where the fight ends up. Going by records alone, we can say that Mumma may benefit from using takedowns and some grappling to get the best outcome over Vaughn, but even though Vaughn owns the majority of his wins by a form of knockout, he also owns three of his four losses by TKO. Mumma can keep this standing if he so chooses, so long as he guards his own chin. After all, Mumma’s most recent defeat came by way of a 15-second TKO in the Fight To Win promotion.

Still, a look at some of Mumma’s past outings will show that the man will look for an opportunity to take guys down and smother them if he gets the chance, though he still improves his position at every turn and hunts for a stoppage or a submission when he gets a chance. Vaughn certainly does not fight like Jason Clayton or any of Mumma’s past foes, but he has shown a knack for getting off to rather quick starts, and must do so in order to put Mumma away here. If Mumma attempts to trade with Vaughn, which he may very well do, Vaughn will make Friday night a short one for Mumma.

Prediction: Colton Vaughn def. Cody Mumma by TKO (strikes). Round 1.
Alvin Robinson vs. Fabio Serrao

Alvin Robinson shares a little bit in common with Fabio Serrao in that they both love to grapple. In fact, Serrao comes off of a submission win, while Robinson has traded wins and losses in his last five bouts.

Now how much do these men love their grappling games? They love it so much that they own a combined total of 17 submissions wins between the two of them. Neither man owns a TKO win or a knockout, and both of them own just one decision win apiece. So what exactly does this come down to?

Oddly enough, while both men may not rank among the best pure strikers in the game, this may be the key to the fight. After all, when two submission aces collide, it is natural to see them engage in a striking battle, so ultimately, that may make all the difference in this fight.

Still, if it should go to grappling, the BJJ black belt Serrao will get a serious test of his mettle against the onslaught of Robinson. As Serrao attacks with all of his might to lock up a submission, Robinson will do the same. The end result will not be a submission win, but it will result in Robinson getting a win here. Watch for these two to look for en encore match, because the first time out will be about as close as a fight can come.

Prediction: Alvin Robinson def. Fabio Serrao by split decision
James DeHerrera vs. Boston Salmon

At first, it may seem hard to get a feel for this main-card opener because both Boston Salmon and James DeHerrera combine for just three professional bouts between themselves. Delving deeper, however, fans can expect to get a great taste of how far these two can go in the sport when they compete on Friday night. Both hold unbeaten records, but as is always the case in MMA, especially when two undefeated fighters do battle, someone’s 0 must go.

As DeHerrera only made his pro debut in August, it seems normal to think he would face a disadvantage in the experience department until someone discovers that as an amateur, DeHerrera mounted a 7-5 record, with five of those seven wins coming by submission. Having been in the game since 2009, DeHerrera has learned a lot since his debut, and thus far, he has done well in using what he has learned to help him prevail in the heat of battle.

Salmon may not carry the experience of his foe, but the man presents a great test for DeHerrera. Noted as a featherweight with knockout power and a good deal of technique, Salmon finished two of the three fights he won in the amateur circuit before debuting for the RFA this past January, and since making his RFA debut, Salmon has been on a tear. In fact, he not only put out Perceu Friza, but he also scored a solid TKO win over Zac Chavez back in July.

This one gets interesting on so many levels, and it does prove difficult to decide exactly which aspect of the fight will pay dividends towards its outcome. DeHerrera can out grapple Salmon to the moon and back, but he must set up his attempts to take Salmon down, or he needs to come directly at Salmon from the onset. Still, with how swiftly Salmon can strike, that seems like an unlikely scenario.

Prediction: Boston Salmon def. James DeHerrera by KO (punch). Round 1

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.