LFA 97 returned to the Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas Friday evening and played host to nine fights on the night including the main event showdown between Nick “Nyquil” Browne and Kings MMA product Arthur Estrazulas for the promotions vacant lightweight title. According to Sherdog.com’s Tyler Treese, 3-fighters failed to make their contractually stipulated weight including lightweights Jose Martinez, Cam Ansel and featherweight Guilherme Cruz. Though their respective bouts were allowed to continue as originally scheduled, the fighters were fined a percentage of their purses by the Kansas Athletic Commission according to the Sherdog.com report.
Although Friday nights LFA 97 event featured a 9-fight card, the first two fights on the evenings undercard were shown on Facebook.com according to an official with the Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC). In a long overdue introduction to the world of combat sports officiating, both the MMA Press Room and freelance MMA business writer Patrick Auger were invited to serve as virtual shadow judges for the LFA 97 event by the KAC, who themselves have worked closely with the LFA promotion in implementing the experimental open scoring system currently being explored by the Legacy Fighting Alliance organization.
According to the KAC, the open scoring system isn’t mandatory and remains optional for the promotion to utilize at their discretion as they continue to evaluate and review the ongoing change in how judging is conducted in mixed martial arts. The organization's previous event in Park City, Kansas at LFA 96 saw confusion erupt surrounding the open scoring system following the first round of “the featured fight of the night on UFC Fight Pass” between Mo Miller and Regivaldo Carvalho where an apparent judging error by the Kansas Athletic Commission resulted in announcer Ron Kruck explaining the change to the original first round open scores during the middle of the second round of the evenings featured bout.
Unfortunately, the story of the week wasn’t the bizarre open scoring error at LFA 96 or even the anticipation of the promotions first event of the year in 2021 at LFA 97; but rather the news which broke early Tuesday morning of Legacy Fighting Alliance’s firing of UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich following his attendance at the “Stop the Steal” rally held in the nation's Capital in Washington, DC on January 6th. With conservative American’s having faced years of persecution at the hands of big tech censorship and the left-wing media establishment, Miletich becomes the latest victim of the dangerously out of control politically correct environment created and fostered by the militant communist wing of the Democrat party.
Beyond the firing of Miletich overshadowing the LFA 97 event itself this week, two incidents on the night caught the MMA Press Room’s attention beyond the usual difficulties associated with the 10-point must system. The judge’s scorecards following the first round of the fight between Michael Stack and Jordan Mapa struck many of the announcers calling the fight cage side at the event as unusual when Mapa was awarded the round by two of the three judges sitting cage side at the event despite Stack controlling the majority of the round and having secured two takedowns during the opening stanza of the fight. Although Mapa displayed great takedown defense and crisp striking in the first round, it was fairly clear to both myself and the majority of the LFA announcing staff calling the fight live in attendance that Stack should have been declared the rightful winner of the round.
We here at the MMA Press Room also took particular exception to the referee’s failure to stop the contest between lightweights Jacob Rosales and Jose Martinez in the second round of the fight. Following a 10-9 first round in favor of Rosales on our judge’s scorecard, Martinez went on to take a sustained and prolonged beating in the closing minutes of second round following speculation of an illegal strike as Rosales dominated the fight in what we would describe as a troubling sequence of events worthy of further review. It was a clear 10-8 round for Rosales, with one Kansas Athletic Commission official even reportedly taking the nearly unheard of step of issuing a 10-7 ruling on the judges scorecard. Martinez would ultimately prove durable enough to take the fight to the distance, losing on all three judge’s scorecards by Unanimous Decision but not before taking a walloping from Rosales in the second round.
The evening’s main event was marked by a five-round war of attrition between lightweight's Nick Brown and Arthur Estrazulas. Though the MMA Press Room had Estrazulas winning the fight three rounds to two, it was a close contest where many of the rounds could have been scored either way. Without the ability to issue 10-10 rulings, the subjective nature of the 10-point must system leaves room for scores to be open for interpretation in cases where there should at the very least be room for one more additional option. In picking up the hard-earned victory, Brown captures the promotions vacant lightweight title and moves to 11-1 overall in his mixed martial arts career. All in all, LFA 97 was an entertaining night of fights, though one marked with some curious referee and judges’ decisions from the Kansas Athletic Commission.