CFFC 84 Preview: Scoggins and Vasquez clash for vacant bantamweight gold

A promotional graphic for CFFC 84. Credit: CFFC

While established as a top Northeastern-regional promotion for up-and-coming MMA talent, Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) will be heading south this week for a pair of events at the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.

The action begins with CFFC 84 on Thursday, Sept. 17.

CFFC made its return last month with another back-to-back pair of events at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, which saw Santo Curatolo (5-0) win the flyweight title in just over a minute, Elise Reed (2-0) claim the strawweight championship, and Bill Algeo (13-5) compete a mere two weeks before making his UFC debut.

CFFC 84 will feature nine fights in total, seven pro bouts and two amateur ones, and will be headlined by a fight that will determine a new CFFC bantamweight champion.

The first amateur bout of the evening will feature Jonny Morales (1-0 am.) taking on Cameron Phillips (4-1 am.) in a 150-pound catchweight contest.

Morales made his MMA debut in February at V3 Fights 78, where he scored a second-round submission of Jeff Thompson (0-1 am.). Phillips dropped his debut two-and-a-half years ago, but he’s won four straight, most recently getting a 100-second finish of Ethan Crockett (1-3 am.) at V3 Fights 77 in November. This will be the first time, however, that the Law School MMA product faces an opponent that has a win on their record.

The other amateur bout on the night comes in the heavyweight division, as Jon Cunningham (0-0 am.) takes to an MMA cage for the first time when he meets Javontay Reggans (1-3 am.), who has been finished in three straight bouts since winning his February 2018 amateur debut.

The professional MMA action begins at middleweight with Ryot Waller (3-5) facing Nah-shon Burrell (15-11), a veteran of the UFC, Bellator, ACB, and CFFC.

While Waller doesn’t exactly have the best MMA record, he does come into this bout off a second-round submission of Ryan Storey (4-3) last year in the United Combat League. Additionally, Waller has also been competing GLORY Kickboxing for the last couple of years. In fact, one month after that win over Storey, Waller scored a split-decision win over fellow MMA and kickboxing vet Chris Camozzi (25-14) in a highly-entertaining affair at GLORY 72.

Burrell will be competing in his first MMA bout in two years, last competing at CES 52 in August 2018, where he lost by decision to Ronald Stallings (15-8). That loss marked Burrell’s fourth straight, also losing all three of his contests in ACB previously. Burrell’s last win was a first-round finish of Micah Terrill (14-8, 1 NC) in June 2017, and he planned to fight Gabriel Checco (11-5) last year before that fight was scrapped.

The event then moves to a bout between two raw welterweight talents when Will Beard (1-0) meets Thomas Majeski (3-1 am.). After a 2-4 amateur run, Beard won his professional MMA debut with a finish of Khalil Al Afriki at Bang FC 19 in January. Majeski makes his pro debut here but has already competed in the CFFC twice, scoring first-round submissions of Robert Mosley and Bart Pierre to close out his amateur career.

Another professional MMA debut comes in the following bout, as Jose Perez (0-0) takes on Brandon Gaitor (2-1) in a featherweight matchup. This will be Perez’s first fight in a cage in three years, having not competed since scoring three finishes in amateur action in the United Combat League in 2017. Gaitor, under the mentorship of Jason Aldridge and Mike Cook, was last in action a year ago at Attitude MMA Fights 19, where he bested James Wallace in a majority decision.

Action then goes back to heavyweight, where Jay Wilson (0-3) meets Trevor Wallace (2-0). Wilson, who made his MMA debut almost exactly one year ago, still seeks his first win as a pro (second win between both amateur and pro) and has been unable to make it past 72 seconds in a pro bout. In fact, two of Wilson’s losses have come in under 30 seconds. Wallace, who made his pro debut in March, has impressed with finishes of Anthony Daugherty and John Clay in Summit FC — the former giving him revenge from his first amateur loss.

Also on the card will be two featherweight prospects making their CFFC debuts, as Zachary Hicks (5-3) takes on Reginald Adams (5-2).

Hicks, a freestyle fighter based out of Nashville MMA, rebounded from a pro debut loss by winning four straight before losing some momentum through a pair of losses in 2018. The Austin Peay State alumnus, however, got back to winning ways in his last outing, scoring a unanimous decision over Michael Ricketts at HR MMA 112.

Similarly, Adams, another product of Law School MMA — and who has competed exclusively for V3 Fights and Altitude MMA Fights prior to this CFFC bout —  won his first four pro fights by first-round submission. He’d drop decisions to Trevor Anderson and Chris Ocon before a decision win over Antowuan Moseley in April 2019, which is still Adams’ most recent fight to date.

In the evening’s co-main event, a pair of familiar prospect names, as former CFFC champ Pat Sabatini (11-3) and Jordan Tioni (7-5), will do battle at featherweight.

Sabatini, who’s become a known name in CFFC and the Northeastern regional MMA scene, defeated Da’Mon Blackshear at CFFC 71 to win the promotion’s featherweight title. He’d retain the title with a second-round submission of Fabricio Oliveira at CFFC 74 but lost the title to James Gonzalez earlier this year at CFFC 81 when Sabatini broke his arm 46 seconds into the contest after being caught in a submission hold and refusing to tap. This is the first fight since the title loss for the MPR Endurance MMA representative.

Tioni won six of his first eight pro bouts, and at one point was on a five-fight win streak. But then came a stretch of a little over a year where Tioni dropped three straight fights. The Factory X fighter and Colorado native rebounded in his most recent performance, a unanimous decision win over Gabriel Macario at Fury FC 37 last year.

Finally, in the main event, CFFC will crown a new flyweight champion when Jared Scoggins (9-1), perhaps one of the world’s top-rated 125-pound prospects, faces Bellator veteran Thomas Vasquez (8-4).

Scoggins, who makes his promotional debut at CFFC 84, isn’t going to get the finish every time he’s out there, but he’s been dominant in nearly all of his MMA fights thus far. Fighting out of Revolution MMA, Scoggins is on a three-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision over Kenny Porter in September 2018.

He was scheduled to do battle with former LFA flyweight champ and current UFC flyweight Brandon Royval in November at LFA 79 before that fight fell through.

Vasquez, who made his pro MMA debut back in 2011, was originally a bantamweight and will be just making his flyweight debut here. Vasquez won his first six fights, with about half of them coming by submission. Vasquez would make two appearances in Bellator following that, but he’d suffer his first pro losses at the hands of Marcos Galvao and Mike Hernandez.

He’d receive a title shot in the Ring of Combat promotion next but was finished by current UFC fighter Julio Arce. After winning the Summit FC title by submitting Austin Lyons, the Fisher’s Bang Gym fighter lost a featherweight matchup to Brandon Davis — prior to Davis going on into the UFC.

His most recent matchup was a 130-pound bout with Cleveland McLean in September 2018, with Vasquez winning by third-round TKO. A bout with Cody Durden scheduled for a couple of months later ended up scrapped.

CFFC 84, along with the following evening’s CFFC 85 event, will air on UFC Fight Pass.