LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) president Ed Soares announced today that RFA 35 has a new main event as RFA lightweight champion Mehdi Baghdad has signed with the UFC. The main event of RFA 35 will now feature a lightweight title fight between former RFA title challenger Zach Juusola and longtime Showdown Fights star David Castillo. RFA 35 – Juusola vs. Castillo will take place Friday, February 19th inside the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah. The entire main card will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.”I am excited about our new main event at RFA 35 in Utah,” stated Soares. “RFA lightweight champion Mehdi Baghdad has signed with the UFC, so stepping in will be the man that fought him for the title. Zach Juusola had a war with Baghdad, shares the same record, and he is coming off a dominant win. He will face longtime Showdown Fights star David Castillo for the vacant RFA lightweight title.” Soares continued, “Showdown Fights has established itself as the premier organization in the state of Utah and I’m looking forward to this fantastic event.”
Showdown Fights owner Will Farrar is also excited as his promotion prepares to collaborate with the RFA.
“We have always admired the RFA, and now to have them here in our back yard? We too have taken a lot of pride in building fighters up to move on to the UFC and on February 19th, I bet we will see the next crop,” stated Farrar. “This event has been in the works for sometime and now it’s almost here!”
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Juusola (11-3) holds and identical record to the man he will be replacing, Mehdi Baghdad, who was signed by the UFC this week. Juusola had a memorable title fight with the former champion in the main event of RFA 21 in December 2014 that finally came to an end halfway through the fourth round. Juusola rebounded from that fight with a Unanimous Decision victory over a surging Robert Rojas Jr. on Rojas’ home turf in Nebraska this past September. Now Juusola plans on taking full advantage of his second shot at RFA gold.
“I am excited to go fight for the RFA title in Utah,” stated Juusola. “This time I’m not leaving without the strap. My opponent is already nervous and for good reason. You will see the slickest, strongest, and most technical Juice yet on February 19th.”
Castillo (19-7) has established himself as one of Utah’s most beloved fighters over the course of his seven and a half year career. In that time, Castillo has fought in Russia, Bahrain, and Canada, while remaining one of the most active and entertaining fighters in his home state’s history. The Utah native and longtime Jeremy Horn protégé is now eager to make his live American television debut in what he sees as the perfect opportunity to prove he is one of the world’s elite 155-pound fighters.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity for myself and the Utah community as a whole. RFA is one of the biggest MMA shows to ever come to the state. Utah has a lot of MMA talent and a great fan base,” Castillo explained. “The chance to headline this card is big for me and the show. It guarantees a packed house since Utah fans know I’ve never been in a boring fight. The change of opponents won’t be a problem. At this level, everyone is going to be skilled in every aspect. Other than adjusting to fighting a southpaw, my approach will be the same against Juusola and I look forward to becoming the next RFA lightweight champion at RFA 35.”
The co-main event of RFA 35 will feature another “showdown” between RFA and Showdown Fights standouts as Thiago Moisés (6-1) battles David “Playtime” Putvin (7-1) in a lightweight bout. Moisés, who is a native of Indaiatuba, Brazil, fights out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. The Brazilian prospect made an impressive RFA debut last summer at at RFA 28, when he choked out Javon Wright via second round Rear Naked Choke at featherweight. Moisés now moves up to lightweight to face one of Utah’s most promising prospects. Putvin fights out of Jeremy Horn’s Elite Performance in the greater Salt Lake City area and is undefeated in his home state. “Playtime” may describe his personality, but he is all business once he steps inside the cage. All seven of his wins have come via submission.
The feature fight of RFA 35 will see the highly-anticipated RFA debut of Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (4-0). Blaydes was an NJCAA national wrestling champion at Harper College and is widely considered one of the top heavyweight prospects in the world. He was all weighed-in and ready to make his RFA debut last summer at RFA 28, but his opponent Justin Frazier ended up pulling out of the fight on the morning of the fight due to a family emergency. The blue chip RFA prospect will now have a stiff test awaiting him as he faces a dangerous Utah native in Eric Iman (4-3). Iman is a mountain of a man with nearly twice the experience of Blaydes. Iman will also enjoy a huge home crowd advantage as he has fought his entire career in his home state of Utah.
The main card of RFA 35 will also feature the return of a trio of RFA vets in James Nakashima , Dervin Lopez, and Ricky Steele who will be paired with three more of Utah’s best. Nakashima (4-0), who was just voted the “RFA – 2015 Fans’ Choice Awards: Prospect of the Year” after going 3-0 for the promotion in 2015, will face undefeated hometown favorite Brad Darrington (4-0) in a welterweight bout.
Lopez (7-3) returns to the RFA after taking a fight with Devin Clark last summer at RFA 29 on 5 days’ notice. He will now drop down to his natural weight class of middleweight to take on Joe Rodriguez (7-3). Rodriguez comes into this fight fresh off a second round submission win over ten-time UFC vet and TUF 9 finalist DaMarques Johnson.
The main card will kick off in the 135-pound division as Steele (4-0), who is a third degree black belt in Keishinkan Karate, returns to the RFA Octagon to face Utah based bantamweight L.J. Schulz (5-3). Schulz has been victorious in his last two contests, which both took place inside his home state of Utah.
The full RFA 35 fight card and further information regarding this event will be announced soon. RFA 35 will be the promotion’s first event to take place in the “Beehive State” of Utah and it will mark the fourteenth overall state the promotion has visited. The entire main card of RFA 35 will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on Friday, February 19th.
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