Aaron McKenzie had a close five-round fight against Lucas Clay to become the new LFA Lightweight Champion on Friday night.
McKenzie prevailed in a split decision result to defeat Clay and take the vacant belt. His win headlined LFA 128, which took place at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA.
The fight was a close battle down to the final round, with scorecards possibly tied as the fifth frame kicked off.
McKenzie picked up a round on scorecards to open the fight, taking Clay down early and remaining in control.
Clay earned the second and third rounds of the bout. His striking was strong, and he remained busy with submissions on the ground. He notably searched for a rear naked choke for most of the third round.
McKenzie recovered in the fourth round with ground control.
The final round was arguably the closest, as both fighters had controlling positions against the cage and on the ground. Clay had an explosive end to the fight, landing a clean punch and attempting a flying knee.
McKenzie admitted afterward that Clay was a tough opponent.
“I knew he was great everywhere. You don’t get to 8-1 if you aren’t great,” said McKenzie in his post-fight interview.
McKenzie, a former Bellator fighter, has now scored four consecutive wins in the LFA.
Clay entered Friday on a four-fight winning streak, including two victories in the promotion last year.
Lawson Stops Eatman Within A Minute
Jimmy Lawson scored a quick win in the co-main event, finishing Marino Eatman in the first minute for his fourth consecutive pro win.
Lawson took Eatman down just moments into the fight. He then started to land a fast pace of punches to the head that made the referee stop the fight.
All of Lawson’s wins have come via stoppage since he turned pro in 2019. His previous appearance was on an LFA card last year, where he stopped Anthony Garrett in just 18 seconds.
Eatman has now won just one bout in his last five appearances as a pro.
Miranda Ends Close Battle Against Dixon With Submission
Richie Miranda put an end to a close fight against Devon Dixon in the third round, catching him with a guillotine choke.
Miranda secured the choke after he was taken down by Dixon. Capitalizing on a full guard position, he grabbed the neck of Dixon for the submission.
Miranda’s win came after each fighter arguably took a round in the fight.
Dixon had a strong first round. While he suffered a flash knockdown just seconds into the fight, he recovered and scored numerous minutes of control time in the frame.
Miranda dominated the second round in a similar fashion to how Dixon won the first, taking him down early and winning the round with his grappling.
Miranda’s record is now a flawless four wins since he debuted in February 2021. His previous win was a submission in Cage Warriors.
Dixon was making his LFA debut following a five-fight run in Titan FC that resulted in four wins and one draw.
Meredith Puts Away Tough Viola Late
Bryce Meredith finally stopped tough fighter Jay Viola in the third round of their bout, putting together a series of strikes that caused the referee to step in and end the bout.
Meredith backed Viola up against the cage in the final round, allowing him to unload with punches and knees that connected clean. After a series of these strikes landed, the referee eventually stepped in to end the bout.
Meredith dominated the fight in previous rounds with stand-up skills and ground and pound.
Meredith was coming off a successful pro debut from last year, scoring a first-round finish win against Steven Merrill.
Viola is now on a three-fight losing streak. Previous appearances in his run include fights against tough names like Fernie Garcia and Mitch Raposo.
McKee Stops Jackson Early For Second Win
Mitchell McKee had a quick and dominant performance for his second pro win. He stopped Jalen Jackson with punches, finishing him in the third minute of their bout.
McKee was quick to get the fight to the ground in the opening minute. He moved into side control, where he was able to land a steady pace of punches.
McKee eventually scored enough shots for the referee to step in and end the fight.
McKee won his debut in December, defeating Frank Posko on an LFA card.
Jackson was coming off an unsuccessful pro debut, which was a 16-second submission loss.
Jean Lands Overhand Left Knockout
Thad Jean opened the main card with a knockout win, stopping Sarek Shields in the second round.
Jean floored Shields halfway through the round with a clean overhand left. Shields had a delayed reaction to this shot but eventually fell to the ground to end the fight.
Jean had Shields in trouble during the first round as well, searching for a rear naked choke.
Jean now has three finish wins since turning pro in August 2021. His two prior victories both came in the first round.
Shields entered the weekend with two pro wins. His previous win was in January when he beat Jeremiah Curtright on an LFA card.
Main Card (9:00PM EDT / 8:00PM CDT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 8: Aaron McKenzie def. Lucas Clay via Decision, Split (Vacant LFA Lightweight Championship)
Bout 7: Jimmy Lawson def. Marino Eatman via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:34)
Bout 6: Richie Miranda def. Devon Dixon via Submission, Guillotine Choke (RD 3, 2:07)
Bout 5: Bryce Meredith def. Jay Viola via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 1:04)
Bout 4: Mitchell McKee def. Jalen Jackson via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:02)
Bout 3: Thad Jean def. Sarek Shields via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 3:40)
Bout 2: Adamu Isah def. Andrew Triolo via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:24)
Bout 1: Cheyanne Bowers def. Kaeley Fenhaus via Submission, Armbar (RD 2, 2:50) (Amateur)