LFA 88: Willis vs. de Jesus Preview – Main event title clash, undefeated prospects featured at LFA 88

Event graphic for LFA 88: Willis vs. De Jesus. Credit: LFA

On Friday, August 21, Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) is back for Phase Two of holding events during the COVID-19 pandemic after a successful, two-week, four-event Phase 1.

Phase 1 saw four newly crowned champions, three Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) fighters, and three new UFC signees compete from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

LFA 88, like the four events before it, will be held without a live audience. The card currently stands at nine fights, and the event’s headliner is set to crown a new promotional welterweight champion.

Opening up on the main card is a lightweight bout, as Evan Elder (3-0) will be defending his undefeated record against fellow three-fight prospect Kegan Gennrich (2-1). Elder is a highly-touted prospect out of Hillsboro, Missouri, training out of the famed Sanford MMA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Going 6-1 as an amateur, his sole career loss came at the hands of current UFC fighter, Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Peña (8-3).

Since, Elder is riding a current seven-fight win streak. After fighting mainly for Missouri-based Shamrock FC and winning their amateur lightweight title before embarking on his pro career, he will make his LFA debut at LFA 88.

Looking to stop the prospect in his tracks is Kegan Gennrich. He’s 2-1 as a professional and finds himself riding a two-fight win streak after losing his pro debut.

Also on the card is fellow undefeated prospect Natan Levy (4-0). A black belt in Karate and Kung Fu, Levy is also a highly-touted prospect competing on August 21.

Levy is 4-0 as a pro and 4-0 as an amateur, replete with four total submissions and one knockout win. Born in Herzliya, Israel, he lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he trains out of the well-known Syndicate MMA gym. LFA is obviously sold on Levy, signing him extraordinarily early in his career; all of his pro fights have been for the promotion.

Proven finisher Ben Lugo (5-3) is the man looking to hand Levy his first career loss and steal the Israeli’s momentum. Lugo’s record may not be the prettiest, but the proven finisher is on a four-fight winning streak in Colorado promotion Sparta Combat League.

Nick Maximov (4-0) is also a name to remember on this card who is making his LFA debut with some hype behind him. Outside of MMA, Maximov has earned some serious distinction in the sports of wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

He won American Nationals for Gi/No-Gi at purple belt, was a National Junior College All-American (3rd) at Clackamas Community College, and has competed and won at grappling competitions like Combat Jiu Jitsu Worlds and Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground, to boot.

Currently 4-0 as a pro, Maximov went 6-0 as an amateur martial artist. He also trains out of the Nick Diaz Academy, residing in Stockton, California.

His opponent, Tresean Gore (2-0) looks like a nice prospect in his own right. As an amateur, he beat stiff regional competition like Robert Hale (8-5) and Tanner Saraceno (7-5) en route to an amateur title. Now he’s 2-0 as a pro with a lot of momentum behind him.

In the co-main event of LFA 88, it’s gonna be a battle between two welterweight veterans in Andre Fialho (10-3) and Austin Jones (8-5).

Fialho, a native of Portugal, is making his LFA debut in the bout. Fialho has fought for both Bellator MMA and in Professional Fighters League (PFL), competing in the latter’s welterweight tournament last year. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product will look to snap his two-fight skid from his PFL run against Austin Jones.

An 8-5 record may not look too good for Jones, but the Factory X standout has fought and beaten some good regional fighters, including Shamrock FC’s Calen Born (7-1). Jones will look to get back to his winning ways after a recent loss derailed his five-fight winning streak.

Finally, in the main event, LFA will crown a new welterweight champion after a UFC call caused former champion Derrick Krantz (24-12) to vacant the title.

“The Brazilian Bad Boy,” Vinicius de Jesus (9-2) will be taking on Tennessee’s Jaleel Willis (12-2).

De Jesus is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who has competed in the past in the Combat Jiu-Jitsu Worlds 2019 tournament. He fought for Bellator from 2016-2019, going 3-1 for the promotion. In his latest fight, de Jesus defended the CES welterweight title, stopping a good prospect, Jeremiah Wells (8-2-1), with strikes in the third round.

On the other side of the cage, Willis has also fought for Bellator, along with appearances in the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and LFA multiple times. Willis is now on a three-fight winning streak, going the full distance all three times. 

This will be the first chance at an LFA title for both fighters, and the winner will emerge as an LFA champion and a talent on the radar of the sport’s major promotions.

LFA 88: Willis vs. de Jesus airs live on Friday, August 21, on UFC Fight Pass.