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Ready for LFA 41 at Mystic? Let's go!!! Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Tuesday, 29 May 2018 18:09

OK, it's been a minute ... or many, many minutes ... since we've been active here at Minnesota MMA News. But we've come out of hibernation to break down a very special event coming to Mystic Lake Casino on Friday. We knew you all missed us, so we're back in action, taking an in-depth look at LFA 41.

This will be the second LFA event inside Mystic Lake's new "Minnetonka Ballroom," and from top to bottom, it just might be LFA's best-ever Minnesota event. So, let's get after it. We'll break down each fight, with quotes from matchmaker Jeremy Bjornberg, and of course, your favorite gadfly "Hawkeye Fighter" is ready to offer up his predictions for this mega-event at Mystic.

The skinny — Doors opens at 5 p.m. Fights will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main, televised portion of the card set to begin at 8 p.m. The main card will be carried live on AXS-TV. A handful of ticket still remain online (click the link in the header of this page for tickets, or contact any participating fighter) and there are expected to be a few seats available during the day Friday.

OK, it's time ... let's go!!

AMATEUR UNDERCARD (5:30 p.m.)

MARIO GOMEZ VS DANIEL SORIANO

WEIGHT: 125.

RECORDS: Gomez is 0-1, Soriano 1-1.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Both fighter are from Minnesota; Gomez trains in Sleepy Eye with the Fight Squad, and Soriano is at Warrior's Cove.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "This should be a good banger to get the night started. All the Fight Squad guys come to fight; I don't think anyone from that crew has ever been in a boring fight. Gomez hits very hard, and he's fearless. Soriano can bang, too. I think both of these guys will come in looking for a knockout, and that's usually a recipe for an exciting fight. It should get the crowd going."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Them hands gonna fly, but I think Soriano catches him late in the second round for a submission W.

JOEY HART VS NICK RAHN

WEIGHT: 170.

RECORDS: Hart is 2-1-1, while Rahn is 4-1.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Both fighters are from Minnesota; Hart moves around for training but is based in Willmar, while Rahn trains at The Cellar.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "One of my favorite fights on the undercard. Nick Rahn gets better every time he's in there. He's pretty solid all-around; he's comfortable on the ground or on the feet. And

he will do it all with a smile. He's one of those guys you love to cheer for because you can tell he's always having fun in there. Joey Hart is a smooth, natural athlete with loads of talent. He ran into a tough fighter in Ben Ross in his last fight. Joey doesn't have the wrestling right now to hang with someone that big and with that background. But he hung in there and it was a fun fight. Joey has dangerous hands and kicks, and I'm sure he's looking for the big KO. No idea which way this one goes."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Hart is more talented, but Rahn is savvy, I think he grinds out a decision win. Fans gonna love it if this one goes all three.

HOUSTON CONWAY VS SEAN STRUBE

WEIGHT: 135.

RECORDS: Conway is 4-1, while Strube is 8-1.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Strube trains at McCune's in the Twin Cities, while Conway is at Estus MMA in Iowa.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "It's about time Strube gets back in the cage. Minnesota has been waiting. He was one of Minnesota's most talented amateur fighters before he stepped away for a while. Now he's back. The sky is the limit for this kid. He can do it all. Strube is the complete package. But Conway should give him a great test right off the bat. I know Strube will be looking for a highlight-reel finish in his first fight back, but Conway isn't someone to mess with. He's dangerous."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Not going to pick against my dude Strube. It may take him a round to get his feet under him, but he gets that KO in Round 2.

COTY MILHAUSEN VS CLAY UDDLEY

WEIGHT: 155.

RECORDS: Milhausen is 3-0, while Uddley is 5-5.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Milhausen trains with Hart in Willmar and also moves around for training, while Uddley trains in Mankato.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Love this one. Clay Uddley looked fantastic in his last fight. When he's on and focused, he's very tough to beat. I'd be stunned if we didn't see the best version of Clay for this big opportunity Friday night. Clay has good ground skills and wrestling. Coty has really come in and done well right off the bat in this sport. He's a good athlete with a wrestling background, but he loves to bang. He's a dangerous fighter with a grinding wrestling style. This is a nice test for him; if he can get past someone as skilled and experienced as Clay, that will say a lot."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Tough one. Clay is that savvy vet, been in there a ton. But Coty has the skills. Going with Milhausen in a decision W.

JAMES NORRIS VS TOMMY PETERSEN

WEIGHT: 265.

RECORDS: Norris is 1-1, while Petersen is making his debut.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Both fighters are from Minnesota; Norris trains at the St. Cloud Boxing Gym, while Petersen is with Tom Schmitz at Spartan Martial Arts.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Norris stepped up on short notice for a fighter who got cold feet, so we thank him for that. He jumped at the chance to fight on the big show against a tough opponent, so I always appreciate guys like that. Norris is a tough, big dude, and I'm sure he's not backing down. Tommy Petersen was a standout high school wrestler from just down the road in Lakeville. He's a monster, a bad dude. But he's never been in there before, so you never know what will happen when that door locks and the lights come on. He's certainly got potential; I'm excited for this one."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Petersen is a bad, bad mofo ... TKO first round.

TYLER MANNING VS THOMAS VIEVERING

WEIGHT: 135.

RECORDS: Manning is 2-5, while Vievering is making his debut.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Both fighters are from Minnesota; Vievering trains at Warrior's Cove, while Manning is at St. Cloud Boxing Gym.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "This is a good, fair fight for both guys. Manning has been a warrior for us, fighting anybody we ask, so he's being rewarded with this shot. Vievering, I don't know much about him, but I'm hearing good things. There's some talent there, but he's pretty green."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Vievering, second-round submission.

AMANDA BYERS VS BRITTANY NIEMAN

WEIGHT: 105.

RECORDS: Byers is 2-1, while Nieman is 1-0.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Nieman is from Minnesota and trains at Next Level Combat, while Byers trains at Glory MMA in Missouri.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "This one should be fun. Everyone loves the ladies, and both of these women can put on a show. Byers trains with a tough crew down at Glory, and they think she's ready for something big. This will be the perfect test. Nieman has a good ground game, and she's improving every day over at Next Level. Both ladies are excited about the opportunity and looking forward to putting on a show."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Byers by unanimous decision.

PRO UNDERCARD

LUKE GWALTNEY VS BRANDON JENKINS

WEIGHT: 165.

RECORDS: Gwaltney is 21-19-2, while Jenkins is 11-6.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Jenkins trains at American Top Team of Savage, while Gwaltney is at 2 Strong MMA in Missouri.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Gwaltney is a tough vet; he's fought the best of the best and he's been in the sport forever. He stepped up on somewhat short notice to take on a very tough opponent, but he's always been willing to stand in there and bang with the best. Jenkins, well, Minnesota fans know him well, and I think the rest of the world is starting to figure out what this kid can do. He impresses me every time he's in there, win or lose. I expect him to be looking to put on a show in this one, going balls-to-the-wall to get that finish."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: That's my guy, Jenkins gets the late first-round TKO.

PRO MAIN CARD (8 p.m., AXS-TV)

RYAN DEBELAK VS CALYN HULL

WEIGHT: 265.

RECORDS: Hull is 3-0, while Debelak is 5-3.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Debelak trains at Next Edge in South Dakota, while Hull is from Wisconsin and trains at Perfect Moves Martial Arts.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "What a way to kick off the main card! I absolutely love this fight. Ryan Debelak is as tough as they come. His standup is outstanding, and he can take a punch. His kicks are devastating. There's no doubt he can finish a fight in an instant. Debelak also has a fantastic ground game. Hull is certainly a rising prospect, though. He's got an outstanding wrestling background, having wrestled for the Wisconsin Badgers. He has moved up the ladder quickly, and he was seriously tested in his last fight. This is another step up, a big one. Debelak is no joke. He's dangerous all over. Hull, though, it's tough not to cheer for this guy."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Debelak is game AF, but I'm a Hull fan ... he grinds out a decision win.

TYLER VOGEL VS TIM HILEY

WEIGHT: 185.

RECORDS: Vogel is 7-3, while Hiley is 6-0.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Hiley is from Wisconsin and trains with Jake Klipp at Pura Vida, while Vogel is from North Dakota and trains at Calaveras Martial Arts and Bismarck Ice Dragons Jiu-Jitsu.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "We follow that first main card fight with another sick scrap. Vogel is from North Dakota, and he's been on a tear. He has won four straight, and even his losses are to some very tough dudes. He's really on fire and he keeps getting better. He's dangerous all over, especially on the ground. Hiley is one of Wisconsin's top prospects, and really one of the top prospects in the Midwest. He's a bad, bad man. Hiley has loads of power in his hands, and he's a strong grappler. He has tons of potential, but this is a perfect test for both guys. The winner of this fight is in line for very big things before the end of the year."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Vogel is a beast, but no way would I bet against my dude Hiley. Second-round KO, in devastating fashion.

SHAWN WEST VS JORDAN GRIFFIN

WEIGHT: 145.

RECORDS: West is 15-9, while Griffin is 15-5.

FIGHTING OUT OF: West trains and fights out of Iowa, while Griffin is at Roufusport in Wisconsin.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "West stepped up on super short notice. He's a vet, a true professional, always willing to step up and take on top guys. I actually like this fight a lot. Shawn isn't a joke, he's not coming here to lose. He will go for it and leave it all in the cage. Griffin is climbing the ranks, too. He has the talent to reach the top. The last-minute opponent change shouldn't slow him down, but it will change his game plan, I'm sure."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Griffin survives an early scare and wins early in Round 2, via TKO.

BOBBY COOPER VS BEN NEUMANN

WEIGHT: 170.

RECORDS: x.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Cooper trains at Glory MMA in Missouri, while Neumann is from Minnesota and trains at Warrior's Cove.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Here we go again with fan favorite Ben Neumann. He impresses and amazes me every single time he's in the cage, win or lose. Ben is a smart fighter, he knows his skill set, and he gets the most out of it. It's getting old to say it, but Ben can roll with just about anyone on the ground. He's becoming a tough matchup on his feet, too. Cooper is no joke. He trains with a great team, and he's already fought for Bellator, WSOF and Titan. He's been in there against the best and held his own. He's a grinder, though. He usually wins decisions. Taking Ben to the ground could be a mistake, but we'll see."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Oddly, calling fight of the night here. And Neumann makes the crowd go nuts with a late third-round submission win.

KEVIN CROOM VS NATE JENNERMAN

WEIGHT: 145.

RECORDS: Jennerman is 11-3, while Croom is 18-8.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Croom trains at Glory MMA in Missouri, while Jennerman is from Wisconsin and trains with Duke Roufus at Roufusport.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Nasty Nate is back in Minnesota, and I can't wait. Jennerman gets better and better every time I watch him. He busts his butt, and it's paying off. Nate is pretty comfortable and confident wherever the fight goes. But Croom is a vet, he's been in the game a long, long time. He's fought in Bellator and Titan, and he's taken on the best of the best from way back in the day. He has the skills to finish this fight for sure. I love fights like this, even fight with two warriors. No idea who comes out on top. Croom is darn good on the ground, but Nate is pretty slick, too. Gonna be a good one."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Let's get Nasty. Jennerman with a third-round TKO.

KILLYS MOTA VS BOBBY LEE

WEIGHT: 155.

RECORDS: Mota is a perfect 10-0, while Lee is 8-1.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Lee is from Minnesota and he trains with Brock Larson at Start BJJ, and he also spends time at the Cellar. Mota is from Brazil.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "What a fight! Bobby Lee wanted the best we could find, and Mota is no joke. He's from Brazil, so you always expect those guys to be good on the ground. But most of Mota's wins are by TKO and KO. He's a bad, bad dude. When Bobby is on point, he's one of the Midwest's best prospects. He's got the athleticism, wrestling and training to reach the top of the sport. If his head is right and his gas tank is there, he can go with anyone. This will be a serious challenge for him, and we'll see if he can rise up. Who knows what's next for him if he gets the job done Friday. Going to be a huge night for both guys."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Brutal one to pick. Heart says Bobby, head says KILLys. All heart baby ... Bobby Lee with the second-round submission (yeah, I said submission foo).

THIAGO MOISES VS JEFF PETERSON

WEIGHT: 155.

RECORDS: Moises is 9-2, while Peterson is 9-4.

FIGHTING OUT OF: Peterson is originally from Wisconsin but now lives in California and trains at Alliance, while Moises is from Brazil and now trains at American Top Team.

BJORNBERG'S THOUGHTS: "Peterson is such a great story. He's a guy who was thrown to the Wolves early in his career, and he didn't take the sport as seriously as he should. Now, he's focused and training with beasts every day. He's the complete package now. Tough, tough kid. He's a grinder, he won't go away. Moises is a monster. He has been in title fights for his last four fights. He was the RFA champ before the merger. He's scary on the ground, but he can finish a fight on his feet, too. I don't think it's wise to roll around with him ... ever. But again, never count out Jeff Peterson. He's ready for this kind of test."

HAWKEYE FIGHTER PREDICTION: Mannnn I hate this one. I'll be cheering for Peterson, but I gotta take Moises, second-round submission.