LAS VEGAS – Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) President Ed Soares has announced the promotion will be returning to the state of South Dakota. RFA 25 is April 10 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
RFA 25- Lawrence vs. Toomer features a main event between two RFA fan favorites. RFA featherweight champion Justin "The American Kidd" Lawrence returns to the building that he won his title last summer. His first title defense will be against No. 1 contender "Super" Sam Toomer, who will be looking to keep his undefeated record intact. The undercard begins at 6:30 p.m. The entire main card will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 9 p.m.
"I'm excited to announce that the RFA is returning to South Dakota," said Soares. "Justin Lawrence is the first person to win a sanctioned MMA world title in the state of South Dakota and he will defend it for the first time at RFA 25 against undefeated Sam Toomer."
Tickets for RFA 25 - Lawrence vs. Toomer are available for purchase now through ticketmaster.com or by calling 605.312.7900. Ticket prices start at $25, reserved seating is available for $30-$40 and cageside seating is $125.
Lawrence (6-2) returns to the site of the biggest win of his career. Last August at RFA 17, the 24-year-old striking stalwart captured the vacant RFA featherweight title by besting Mark Dickman via Unanimous Decision in what was South Dakota's very first sanctioned MMA world title fight. The win was Lawrence's second straight victory since joining the RFA. Before that, he had gained worldwide notoriety as a star on the 15th season of the UFC's hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, where he was the first overall pick. On the show, Lawrence recorded highlight reel KO's of RFA alum and current UFC star James Krause as well as PRIDE vet and eventual UFC fighter Cristiano Marcello. Lawrence, a former two-time Golden Gloves champion and decorated kickboxer, only had a 3-0 record in MMA at the time but reached the quarterfinals before earning "Fight of the Night" and "KO of the Night" bonuses for his vicious KO of John Cofer in his UFC debut. Lawrence, who fights out of Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California, is eager to once again showcase his vaunted striking skills in his first RFA featherweight title defense.
"Once I heard I would be defending my belt in South Dakota, I thought this is awesome," Lawrence said. "The Sanford Pentagon is one of the best venues I have ever fought in. I felt comfortable, the locker room was great, and the crowd was fantastic. Sam Toomer is a great athlete with a good right hand. I'll have to use my kicks, footwork, and out-finesse him. He's proven to be a worthy challenger, but I look forward to giving him his first loss."
Toomer (9-0) will be the man challenging Lawrence for RFA gold. Unlike most top mixed martial artists, like Lawrence, who come from grappling or striking backgrounds, Toomer was a lifelong football player. However, the 27-year-old college football defensive back has made a successful transition to MMA by utilizing his natural athleticism, discipline and unbreakable work ethic to compile an impressive 9-0 record since making his pro debut three years ago. Two of those wins have come in the past eight months after Toomer signed with the RFA. Toomer won his RFA debut at RFA 15 in June with a dominant performance. The one-sided fight saw his opponent Daniel Aguiar get disqualified in the third round after refusing to stand and fight Toomer. The DQ win over Aguiar via timidity put Toomer's name on the RFA featherweight map as a legitimate title contender. In December, Toomer solidified his case for a title shot with a valiant comeback win over Lyoto Machida protégé Altair Alencar at RFA 21. Toomer, who fights out of The Arena MMA in San Diego, California, is now gearing up for the biggest undertaking of his athletic career in April as he challenges the highly-touted RFA champion Lawrence for his title.
"It feels great getting to fight for an RFA world title," said Toomer. "My first couple of experiences with the RFA have been great, but this is my first time as the main event and I look forward to winning the title. Justin Lawrence is an excellent opponent and the champion for a reason. I'm looking forward to having an exciting fight with him at RFA 25 in South Dakota."
RFA 25 will also mark the return of two other RFA vets in the flyweight division. Abel "The Silent Assassin" Cullum (20-6) will be dropping down to 125-pounds for the first time in his storied MMA career to face Sioux Falls native Josh "The Rage" Rave (24-11). Cullum made a storybook comeback this past fall after a three year hiatus from the sport. In his RFA debut at RFA 18, Cullum submitted UFC vet Ulysses Gomez in 89 seconds. Four weeks later at RFA 19, he submitted Carl Deaton III in the second round. Cullum now drops down to the flyweight division to face Rave, who is the most accomplished flyweight MMA fighter in South Dakota history. Rave will also be riding momentum heading into this fight. He has won three of his last four bouts since making his RFA debut at RFA 2.
Local fan favorites and RFA vets Jordon Larson (5-1) and Devin Clark (2-0) are also returning to fight on the RFA's highly-anticipated return trip to their hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Larson defeated Donavon Winters in his RFA debut at RFA 17 in August in a highly entertaining welterweight bout that was nominated for "Fight of the Year" in the RFA's annual RFA Fans' Choice Awards. Clark, Larson's teammate at Next Edge Academy, also won decisively on that card. The light-heavyweight powerhouse won via TKO over 2012 NFL draft pick Aaron Brown.
RFA 25 will also feature the return of Francisco "Kiko" France (11-3-1), who made a successful RFA debut last summer in South Dakota on the historic RFA 17 card. The jiu-jitsu black belt followed up his submission win over Isaac Appel that night with another first-round submission win over Mikey Gomez in December at RFA 21. Joining the Brazilian middleweight "Kiko" at RFA 25 will be one of MMA's top prospects. Undefeated lightweight LaRue Burley (5-0) will be making his highly-anticipated RFA debut in April.
RFA 25 will be the promotion's second event in the state of South Dakota after hosting the first sanctioned MMA event in "The Mount Rushmore State" last August. More fights on the RFA 25 fight card will be announced in the coming weeks.
RFA is a professional mixed martial arts promotion that gives rising stars and top contenders the opportunity to prove their talent to fans and leaders in the industry. The RFA presents up to 12 events annually around the United States including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, and Minneapolis. RFA can be seen live in over 42 million homes nationally through its television deal with AXS TV. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, RFA is one of the most active and respected MMA organizations in the fastest growing sport in the world. (The Octagon, Ultimate Fighting Championship®, UFC®, and the eight-sided competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks owned exclusively by Zuffa, LLC. All rights reserved).
About AXS TV FIGHTS
AXS TV Fights presents more LIVE mixed martial arts and kickboxing events than any other television network with 40+ LIVE world-class fight cards each year. “The Voice” Michael Schiavello and UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich call all the action as champions, challengers, and top prospects take center stage every Friday night at 10pE/7pP. AXS TV Fights can be found online, on Facebook and on Twitter. AXS TV is widely distributed in the U.S. via AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH, Suddenlink, Verizon FiOS, and other cable, satellite and telco providers. The network is also carried in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.