TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

Comprehensive Preview and Analysis of January 29th Legacy Fighting Championship in Houston, TX

I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious. – Vince Lombardi

The beautiful thing about Mixed Martial Arts is that, as with all things, every good thing must come to an end, and oftentimes by submission or knockout. With that fitting quote above from Vince Lombardi, we come to the  close of our pre-fight coverage surrounding the upcoming Legacy Fighting Championship event here on TXMMA.com.

Next Saturday night! That is the time when everything… all the talk, all the banter, and all the speculation comes to a close as the fights themselves tell the next chapter of the story for the future of Houston Mixed Martial Arts right there in that cage at the Arena Theatre.

In an effort to bring to you (Houston AND Texas) MMA fans the most in-depth coverage possible, below is my analysis of every fight on this Legacy card and what I feel each fighter has to do in order to end up as the winner come fight night.

Please feel free to let me know if you agree or have thoughts of your own to share in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading and regularly visiting TXMMA.com!

Preview and Analysis of January 29 Fight card

170 Title – Mike Bronzoulis (Paradigm) vs. Joe Christopher

Legacy welterweight titleholder Mike “The Greek” Bronzoulis (10-2-1) seems to be better than he’s ever been after beating Jonathan Harris for the coveted title vacated by Levi Forrest. His opponent, Dallas-area native Joe “Jitsu” Christopher (11-5) is also coming off a win and has an astonishing finishing percentage of 100% in his victories. This interstate rivalry could go a long way in establishing supremacy between the Houston and Dallas MMA scene.

Keys to Victory:

Bronzoulis: Mike will have to look to overwhelm Joe-Jitsu with his pace and be relentless in working his ground-and-pound. His opponent Joe Christopher is a finisher so ‘The Greek’ is going to have to make sure he controls Christopher’s hips on the floor first-and-foremost if the action goes there. If the fight stays on the feet and Mike can impose his will in the clinch, he has a good chance of winning this fight.

Christopher: Joe is fighting an aggressive opponent so the first thing he needs to do is make sure the fight is dictated at his pace. From there, he needs to bring the action to where he wants, which is likely on the floor. Joe’s got a pretty mean guillotine choke so maybe he can take advantage of that if Bronzoulis gets overzealous with the takedowns and leaves his neck-open. Other than that, he’s just got to work his game until he finds the opening and takes advantage of it.

155 – Daniel Pineda (IV Oz.) vs. Levi Forrest (Gracie Barra)

A battle of two increasingly well-rounded fighters with a wrestling base, this bout will serve as a giant springboard for the winner’s career moving forward. Both champions moving from their previous weight classes, Pineda (11-)  and Forrest (6-0) are both taking this fight with eyes on the future. For Pineda, a victory here could mean a title shot against current lightweight champion Ray Blodget. For Levi, this fight could serve as a stepping stone to the national MMA bout he covets. If I had to compare this fight to another recent one nationally, I’d say it’s Frankie Edgar versus Gray Maynard all over again.

Keys to Victory:

Pineda: Daniel is going up against a larger, perceivably stronger fighter in Levi Forrest. Both men have a wrestling background so going straightforward with takedown attempts probably won’t be the way the way to go. In order for Daniel to be successful, he’s going to have to use the vaunted 4oz. Muay-Thai skills and footwork he has gleamed off Kru Bob Perez to attack Levi from every angle and keep him off-balance. If Pineda is successful at that then he’s got a chance to put the Alaskan on his back and work from there.  Be quicker, faster, dart in-and-out and confuse with angles… that’s the blueprint.

Forrest: The way I see it, Levi has the advantage of size and strength going into this fight. He was strong at 170 and there is no reason he can’t carry that to the lightweight class, especially given he’s been walking around at close to 155 for over a month now. That alone makes him a lot to handle and we know he’s got the cardio after going five rounds strong against Bronzoulis in his last Houston appearance.  Against Pineda, Levi will have to look to impose his will, be a bully, and walk the smaller fighter down. If he can do that and force the fight on his terms, he’ll do okay for himself.

170 – Brian Melancon (Paradigm) vs. Derrick Krantz (Team 515)

I regard this as a potential fight-of-the-night candidate between two very similar fighters – and by similar, I mean they both hit very, very hard.  Melancon (4-1) is coming off a win against Todd Moore, once of the few men that has defeated Derrick Krantz (10-3).  Not to be outdone, Krantz has been a rolling rock himself (pun- intended), besting his last two opponents after fighting two UFC-veterans previous to that. Fans should look forward to this matchup and see what indeed happens when a tornado meets a volcano inside the cage.

Keys to Victory:

Krantz: In reviewing his past fights, I have concluded that D-Rock has power in his ground-and-pound somewhere in between Fedor’s punches and somebody hitting you in the face with a cue-ball stuffed inside a long sock. Point being, when Krantz hits his opponents on the ground, it looks like it really hurts. And his subs aren’t bad either. I look for Krantz to look to take Melancon to the ground where he can work his GNP and look to force some openings for the submission. If Brian turns his back to D-Rock at any point on the ground, he’d be putting himself in a world of trouble.

Melancon: Returning to his natural weight class from 155, Brian Melancon can now look to utilize the power-lifter’s strength he has been known for in the past. He is vicious with his hooks and is usually able to throw them with power emanating from his entire body dude to his strong base. You’ll never see arm punches from this guy. Against Krantz, his best chance to win is to… well… hit him with one, two, four, or more of those vicious punches. If he lands up one bell-ringing shot, Brian has the closing ability to take this, or any other fight, home in an instant.

120 – Jennifer Scott (IV Oz.) vs. Karina Hallinan (Jacksons MMA)

“Superstar,” as I’ve heard boxing-veteran Jennifer Scott (2-0) called many times recently, makes her Houston fight debut at Legacy after winning her first two MMA bouts. She will be taking on Karina Hallinan (3-2), coming all the way from New Mexico where she trains with the highly-acclaimed Greg Jackson camp. All in all, this should be a very exciting debut for Women’s Professional MMA in Houston.

Keys to Victory:

Scott: It’s no secret what Jennifer should be looking to do in this fight and that’s keep the fight standing and look to impose her will via her hands. She should definitely have the advantage there but she should be wary since she’s going up against an experienced opponent in Hallinan. Perhaps the best route to victory will be to pepper Karina with jabs to soften her up and then go for the kill.

Halliman: All in all, Karina’s had eight MMA bouts to her name. From what I’ve seen, she’s well-rounded with decent kickboxing and submission skills. Her best bet in this bout is not to get caught up in a boxing match and rather mix things up and take the bout into deep waters to capitalize on her experience and look for Jennifer to make mistakes.

170 – Ricardo Talavera (Elite MMA) vs. Jeff Rexroad (Paradigm)

This bout kind of reminds of that movie Double Impact where Jean Claude Van Damme has to fight his twin brother. Okay, maybe it’s not that extreme but Rexroad (1-1) and Talavera (2-0) have plenty in common. Evenly-balanced on the feet and on the mats, both these guys are both what we could describe as a jack-of-all-trades.

Keys to Victory:

Rexroad: It’s hard to describe specifics as to what two fighters should do when they are so evenly matched. For both of them, I would say they should craft a game plan that capitalizes on their training and individual strengths. For Jeff, I’d say a big part of that involves utilizing his reach as an advantage. He should also make use of the fact that he’s had the opportunity to work with so many talented wrestlers and force Talavera to fight off his back.

Talavera: For Ricardo, the number-one thing would be for him to take the fight to Rexroad. Whether it be tying him up in the Thai-clinch or boxing from the outside, he should always be trying to stay busy and dictate the tempo of the fight. Knees, elbows, punches, whatever needs to do to keep Rexroad off-balance will be the key to victory.

170 – Jordan Rivas (Elite MMA) versus Justin Murray (Bushi Ban)

The streaking Justin Murray (2-o) requested this bout with BJJ black belt Jordan Rivas (1-0) specifically to test his skills and see how far he can get in the sport. Jordan Rivas also looks to use this bout as a way to further his credibility in MMA. This will be an interesting one as Murray will be the first fighter with a grappling pedigree to challenge Rivas in the cage. Beyond that, the Bushi Ban product is pretty adept on his feet as well so we could see this fight take place in several areas.

Keys to Victory:

Rivas: The game plan should be quite easy to see now, as it has been the same for all his past fights. Jordan try to take as little damage as possible on his feet the look to get Justin Murray on the mats where he will look to display his technical superiority. Whether it be from his back or in top position, Rivas will try to finish the fight wherever it ends up with his jiu-jitsu.

Murray: Justin Murray has done very well in the professional ranks by using his well-rounded BJJ skills mixed in with excellent takedowns and top control. That will be challenged in this bout by Rivas so I don’t know if grappling would be the most strategic way to go. His best bet may be to try to control the fight from the outside and frustrate Rivas with his striking and try to exploit that area instead if he can find any weaknesses.

170 – Patrick Green (Revolution) vs. John Malbrough (KMMA)

Admittedly, I don’t know too much about the debuting Patrick Green other than he’s moving up from the amateur ranks after amassing a 2-1 record. Debuting against John Malbrough may be a tall order for the rookie. Although the Malbrough Man is only 1-0 himself, he had seven tough MMA bouts to prepare himself, including fights with Andrew Craig, Pat Bierschwale, and other tough fighters.

Keys to Victory:

Green: It’s hard to come up with specifics for Patrick given I don’t know too much about his background but one thing he may want to exploit in John is the area of cardiovascular endurance. The reason I say that is because Malbrough did look like he slowed a bit after the first round in his pro debut against Marc Garcia

Malbrough: John’s a very well-rounded fighter, and tough-as-hell to finish. He’s going to look to take the fight to Mr. Green and can do so standing or on the ground. Patrick does look like a physically imposing fighter so he may want to let him gas himself out then try to finish him.

165 – David McClung (BVMMA) vs. Alex Morono (Gracie Barra)

This will be a battle of the scrappy old-lion versus the young one looking to assume his place amongst his peers. Dave McClung is a veteran fighter taking this fight on short notice against what I would call a blue-chip prospect in Alex Morono.

Keys to Victory:

McClung: As per his usual M.O., I am fairly certain that Dave will charge furiously out of the gates and try to overwhelm Morono. He will try to get in close enough to work a takedown and then try to take the fight via ground-and-pound. If that doesn’t work, it will be rinse-and-repeat. The main thing for Dave is to make sure he doesn’t get gassed with working his game plan.

Morono: Alex is a very composed young fighter. At his frame, he will also surprise with his dexterity in throwing high kicks and utilizing unorthodox positions like rubber guard. In this bout, I look for Alex to set up a spectacular knockout with leg kicks. If the fight does indeed go the ground, I look for him to break the veteran’s posture and aim for a submission via choke.

145 – Andy Sandoval (Death Row) versus Angel Huerta (Paradigm)

Andy “Scrappy” Sandoval is taking this bout on short notice after Huerta’s original opponent, Nate Garza, dropped out of the bout. Looking to rebound off a loss against Humberto Deleon in his pro debut, Sandoval takes on a 2-0 Angel Huerta, a karate-based fighter quickly becoming known in MMA-circles for his spectacular standup.

Keys to Victory:

Sandoval: I definitely don’t think he should keep the fight standing. That much is certain. Beyond that, I guess his best chance for victory is to to take the fight to the ground and force Huerta to fight where we haven’t really seen him before.

Huerta: Do we even have to guess? Angel will utilize everything in his arsenal to finish this fight on their feet. From stinging leg kicks to punches-in-bunches, Huerta will look for the KO and he will do so early and often.

155 – Ray Trujillo (Bushi Ban) versus Justin Reiswerg (Bam Bam)

There’s been a lot of noise prior to this bout, with Reiswerg (1-1) looking to come in and make a name for himself against the former champion and Trujillo (8-2) not taking kindly to the challenger’s statements saying he would dominate him. Look for a barnburner in this bout as both fighters try to take each others’ head off.

Keys to Victory:

Trujillo: Take Reiswerg’s head off.

Reiswerg: Take Trujillo’s head off.

For more in-depth pre-fight coverage of this upcoming event, check out the interview series below with its fighters only on TXMMA.com.

Legacy Fights Interview Series
Authored by: Mike Calimbas

Jeff Rexroad, Paradigm – here

Joe Christopher, Joe-Jujitsu – here

Ricardo Talavera, Elite MMA – here

Justin Murray, Bushi Ban – here

Mike Bronzoulis, Paradigm – here

Jennifer Scott, IV oz. – here

Jordan Rivas, Elite MMA – here

Brian Melancon, Paradigm – here

Derrick Krantz, Team 515 – here

Daniel Pineda, IV oz. – here

Justin Reiswerg, Bam Bam – here

Levi Forrest, Gracia Barra, – here

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