Tomorrow’s RFA 11 is the promotions final event of 2013, as they bring a stout fight card to high altitudes of Colorado. The main event is for the Flyweight title, as former Bellator champ Zach Makovsky takes on a RFA original in Matt Manzanares. We’ve also got an interesting new co-main event, as Tyler Toner signed on the dotted line to take on hot prospect Raoni Barclos in a career-defining fight.
Let’s look at the action in store for us at the top of the card.
125 lbs. Title Fight: Zach Makovsky vs. Matt Manzanares: Two of the best Flyweights outside of the UFC, Zach Makovsky will bring his rapid chain wrestling style to bear, taking on multi-faceted talent Matt Manzanares. Makovsky had a rough run at the end of his Bellator career, having battled as a tremendously undersized 135lber, and even seizing gold in his tenure there. Looking for new life at 125lbs, Makovsky will finally enjoy being of a comparable size to his opponents, allowing him to sit down a bit in the grappling game, rather than relying on his transitions to corral stronger foes. With a versatile mat game, championship experience, and cardio for days, Makovsky has every tool needed to snatch this title strap.
Manzanares isn’t going to let this chance slip away without a fight though. A supremely talented combat sports professional, Manzanares has an amateur boxing pedigree as well as national-ranked TKD and judo skills that have turned him into a multi-range nightmare. A volume striker with clean takedowns, outstanding footwork and the lightning reflexes needed to consistently counter, Manzanares is impossible to engage without taking a hit and won’t buckle easily. Coming off a stunning armbar win over undefeated Steven Swanson, Manzanares has earned this title shot and will do all in his power to claim victory here.
This one should be fireworks, as Manzanares’ footwork and takedown defense are so sharp that Makovsky may have serious trouble getting it to the mat on his terms, making for some fistic clashes early in the fight. The big issue for me is that Makovsky has a tenacious wrestling game and Manzanares main weakness on the mat is his habit of escaping submissions, rather than avoiding them in the first place. While that tactic works in a war of attrition, Makovsky has a great guillotine and RNC, making it a risky gambit if Manzanares hits the mat with the former champ. In all, I like Makovsky to have a slight edge in the long haul and a slight edge in his ability to hook a submission and finish this, giving him another title to add to the collection.
Tyler Toner vs. Raoni Barclos: A broken foot and triplets made this short notice fight possible. Sounds like the beginning of a romantic comedy, but it’s actually a featherweight bout between two of the best in RFA, as striking ace Tyler Toner faces Brazilian phenom Raoni Barclos. Toner has long been one of the most underrated strikers in the game, using a mix of traditional karate technique with the output of a world-class point fighter. His strikes come in at odd angles and his mix of kicking and punching techniques leads to a great deal of confusion for that defending opponent; trying to keep covered while looking for holes to counter.
Barclos isn’t about to play that game however, as the wrestling and BJJ superstar will look for national exposure in this bout. A Brazilian national wrestling team member and BJJ black belt, Barclos keeps company with Jose Aldo and company, so you know he’s bringing elite gym experience that could translate to elite cage experience under the right circumstances.
I like Toner a lot, but Barclos is a next generation superstar in the making, and Toner’s less than perfect takedown defense won’t do him any favors. There is a major X-factor in play here, that being the altitude, which plays right into Toner’s favor if he can draw this fight into deep water. It’s an outside chance but one that makes this interesting, as we’ll see if Toner can play a points game and gradually turn on the pressure against Barclos, avoiding the mat all the while. An outside chance is exactly that though, and I expect to see some fast hands, faster shots and a dominant grappling game, with Barclos getting the tap in the first two rounds.
Make sure to watch RFA 11 tomorrow night on AXS TV.
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