Francisco France (blue gloves) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)RFA 25: Middleweight Title Preview Dale De Souza April 10, 2015 Events, Previews, Spotlight This Friday night, Resurrection Fighting Alliance will feature its 25th installment live from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, IA with an action packed card. At the top of the bill, an RFA championship doubleheader will go down, with featherweight champion Justin Lawrence defending his crown in headlining action against challenger Sam Toomer, and Gabriel “Zangief” Checco against Francisco “Kiko” France for the vacant RFA middleweight title. Checco knows the aura of fighting for the RFA middleweight title because he’s been there before. In fact, it really wasn’t that long ago that the once-undefeated Checco found himself challenging Jake Collier for the then-vacant middleweight crown. Unfortunately for him, Collier submitted him and emerged victorious. Now, fresh off of a win over Joseph Henle, Checco returns to the front of the line against France, who has not suffered an official loss since July 2011. Checco may be the more motivated of the two, having been to a middleweight title fight before, but France puts up a commendable fight against the man known to some as “Zangief”. Whether or not it implies that France is a favorite depends solely on who you ask, but this challenge remains as solid as any Checco has faced up until now. So how do the two match up? Striking In most instances, a preference for submissions doesn’t mean a total lack of striking, though having two losses by a form of knockout and no wins by the same doesn’t exactly help, either. In contrast, five of Checco’s wins have come by a form of knockout, which suggests a certain kind of proficiency in the striking realm for Checco, and rightly so. After all, hard hands and vicious kicks don’t find themselves. Advantage: Checco Submissions Remember when we said “all but three of Checco’s wins have come by a form of knockout”? Well, if not, that is because we never directly said it that way, but we did say five of Checco’s eight pro wins came by knockout. How did the other three wins come to happen? Checco choked three competitors out, with his most recent submission win coming in a bout that took place almost seven full months before his fight with Collier. One submission by a choke sounds awesome enough, but try scoring six arm-triangles and one rear naked choke, with two armbars and two kimuras sprinkled in for good measure. The only real question we would have with France here would concern a timetable for how much longer until he scores a leg submission, though that doesn’t seem too far off at this point, even if it doesn’t happen against Checco. Advantage: France Use of Reach This shouldn’t be the tricky little “x-factor” in the breakdown of the bout, but alas, this indeed is where things get a little less easy to call. See, reach in combat sports is less about the actual arm length and more about how an athlete uses their reach advantage, or in Checco’s case, disadvantage. It’s hard to say for sure if Checco held much of a reach disadvantage against a lot of the guys he fought before the RFA picked him up, but in his lone couple of RFA bouts, he has held the reach disadvantage, and while it initially wasn’t much of a problem against Collier, he would still get hurt by Collier before he got submitted. Mind you, Checco fared better against Henle, but France is neither Henle nor Collier. Also, to score the brunt of a career by submission, a man benefits from learning how to use his reach effectively, which may be where Checco runs into problems against the grappling ace France. Advantage: France Final verdict The RFA thrives on the influx of largely unknown and unheralded talent, such as Checco and France, so they knew their fans would be in for a good one once this fight came together. Checco should be the favorite on paper because despite being known more for knockouts than submissions, he has shown more ways to emerge victorious in the heat of a competitive battle. Despite this, though, it stands perfectly to reason why France would have a bit of the favor here, as he blends everything together in order to keep things going his way. Against Checco, keeping things going his way means peppering Checco to where he cannot get inside effectively, if at all, while keeping the knockout artist guessing about when France will try to strike and when he will try for takedowns. Ultimately, the onslaught will overwhelm Checco as “Kiko” comes out victorious once again via his grappling chops. Prediction: France def. Checco by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 2.