Written By Dylan Knostman
LFA 158 takes place Friday, May 19th, 2023 with a loaded card of 13 exciting professional and amateur Mixed Martial Arts bouts. The event takes place at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler, Arizona where in the main event Jacobi “Big Toe” Jones will take on Jean-Paul “The Lifeguard” Lebosnoyani for the vacant LFA Lightweight championship. In the co-main event, LFA veteran Kevin “Quicksand” Natividad returns after a stint in the UFC, where he’ll take on Brazilian Karate standout Matheus “Teeik” Silva. This card also features standout prospects such as An “The Highlight” Ho, Muay Thai standout Cedric Katambwa, submission ace Austin Wourms, Hawaiian prospect Aupuni Pagoa, and the professional debut of the touted amateur Chance Ikei. On the amateur side of the card, former NFL practice squad member and Arena Football League champion Leon Mackey Jr. makes his MMA debut, while amatuer kickboxing champion Grace Difrancesco looks to win her second bout under the LFA banner. This article will break down all the exciting matchups and the event can be watched Friday, May 19th, 2023 with the prelims starting at 4pm PST (YouTube) and the main card starting at 7pm PST (UFC Fight Pass).
In the main event of the evening, two elite prospects in the lightweight division will battle for the vacant title as Jean-Paul Lebosnoyani will take on former All-American collegiate wrestler Jacobi “Big Toe” Jones. Lebosnoyani is on a tear of 3 straight finishes, all by submission, and looks to extend this streak and capture the lightweight belt in the process. Training out of California Mixed Martial Arts in Hermosa Beach, he displays elite ground skills with a high paced and explosive striking style on the feet. Look for him to use knees to counter the wrestling of Jones, and if the fight goes to the ground be ready for a variety of submission attacks from various positions. Jones is also elite on the ground, but in a much different way. Training out of Factory X in Colorado, his striking has caught up greatly to his wrestling in the past few years, and at just 3-1 as a professional his best years are yet to come. Everything he throws is straight and down the middle, whether it’s elbows, knees, punches or kicks. Against Riley Wiseman at LFA 133, Jones opened one of the largest cuts ever seen in the LFA cage on Riley Wiseman with a knee, forcing a doctor's stoppage and showcasing the power Jones carries in his limbs. This fight will come down to who can establish their gameplan, as Jones will likely use his wrestling to keep the fight where he wants, and Lebosnoyani will look to keep Jones on the back foot, and catch him with a submission during a scramble or a knee during the break on a clinch. I see Jones ending this fight in round 3 or 4 via TKO.
*UPDATE* This fight has been canceled due to medical issues on the side of Matheus SIlva.
In the co-main event, UFC veteran Kevin Natividad will take on Karate Combat veteran Matheus Silva in a bantamweight scrap. Natividad suffered a series of extremely unfortunate events during his UFC run, including injuries, COVID, poor stoppages, and an extremely questionable decision in his last fight vs TUF alumni Ricky Turcios. He returns to the LFA cage where he compiled a record of 4-1 before being called to the UFC. He takes on Brazilian prospect Matheus Silva, who has fought for a variety of regional MMA promotions but most notably has fought for the full contact striking promotion Karate Combat. He will most likely come out in a wide bladed stance, looking to land big kicks and hooks. Natividad on the other hand, is a methodical and strong fighter who mixes grappling and striking very well. In terms of diversity of skill, Natividad owns this matchup and outside of perhaps rangy kicks, he will be able to win most areas of this fight. Look for Natividad to get inside on Silva, and make him pay with boxing, takedowns, and eventually a submission or ground-and-pound finish.
An “The Highlight” Ho has lived up to his nickname every time he’s stepped into the cage. Whether it is a spinning backfist, under-20 second headkick, or an incredible kneebar, Ho is one of the most exciting Flyweight prospects we have ever seen. He was nominated for the LFA Male Fighter of the Year (2022) and Knockout of the Year (2022) and at 22-years old, the best is yet to come for this elite prospect out of the MMA Lab in Phoenix, Arizona. He will be taking on Edwin De Los Santos, who holds a 4-0 amateur record, 2-1 as a professional, and 2-0 for Bellator. A proper step up in competition for Ho, this matchup has fight of the night written all over it.
This fight card is loaded with exciting matchups at both Flyweight and Bantamweight, and this fight is no exception. Aupuni Pagaoa is one of the strongest regional talents from the islands of Hawai’i. A four-fight LFA veteran, he has finished two of his three wins by knockout, showcasing excellent power for a 125-pound fighter, and his respectable amateur record of 4-2 shows his more than just his four professional fights. “The Hawaiian Hitman” Pagoa currently trains at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, and when watching him fight, his speed and footwork instantly jumps out, and his movement is truly elite for any level of MMA. He always moves through his punches and is always changing and creating angles for offense and defense His opponent is no walk in the park, as Humberto Duarte is on a four fight winning streak and looks to make good use of his LFA debut as he fights himself on the main card against a highly touted opponent. Duarte has been active in the Arizona and Latin American regional scenes and trains out of Apex MMA in Tucson, AZ. Duarte owns three knockouts out of five wins and has absolute bricks in his hands. Look for his counter right hand as Pagoa moves in for offense, and this fight could go either way as both men hold elite power.
In the main card opener, two LFA veterans will battle as Cedric Katambwa will take on Austin Wourms in a pivotal lightweight bout. Katambwa, fighting out of Arizona Combat Sports, is coming off a quick TKO victory in his last fight at LFA 149, which extended his professional winning streak and record to three wins. A Muay Thai specialist with strong counter wrestling, Katambwa has an extensive amateur mma and kickboxing background. A win here could be massive as it will make him 4-0 for LFA, with larger promotions and opportunities on the horizon. Wourms is a staple in the Arizona MMA scene, fighting often for LFA and regional promotions, putting together a mixed record of 5-5. A jiu jitsu specialist, he has 5 wins by submission, but has lost four times by knockout. Despite his ground skills being elite, he attempts to fight with a karate type style with his hands down, which most notably led to Lucas Clay knocking him out with a brutal knee at LFA 135. This is a nightmare matchup for Wourms, and it will be interesting to see if he can get his Jiu Jitsu game going in this fight, or will succumb to the strong striking of Katambwa.
Chance Ikei, a well known regional prospect on the Arizona scene, will make his awaited professional debut at LFA 158 against 0-1 fighter Joe Stafford, who suffered a second round TKO loss in his LFA debut in June of 2022. Ikei brings a wild and explosive style to the octagon, with long and flashy striking techniques, and previously wrestled for Arizona State University. He is the former Rise of the Prospects bantamweight champion, and has a very high ceiling as he is only 24-years old.
Grace DiFrancesco will be fighting for the second time under the LFA banner. While she only holds an MMA record of 1-0, she has won an amatuer kickboxing title for local promotion Rage in the Cage, and showcased explosive power in her debut against Kayla Reagan. It took her less than one round to bloody Reagan into a TKO stoppage, and she looks to continue her winning ways here. She will be taking on Maia Schmidt, a 1-0 prospect fighting out of New Mexico.
Normally Amatuer debuts are not notable affairs, but in this fight former NFL and Arena Football League player Leon Mackey Jr., another ACS product will fight for the first time in MMA. Standing at 6’5 with an extremely athletic build, Mackey is the ideal build for the heavyweight division and has been training with the likes of Bellator Heavyweight Tyrell Fortune and UFC Heavyweight Waldo Cortes Acosta in preparation for this fight. He has outstanding power in his strikes and his strength and athleticism are going to be his biggest assets going into this new sport. He will take on Chris Putton, who is coming off of a win in Rage in the Cage, a local Arizona promotion and holds an amateur record of 1-1.