In September 2016, two major MMA promotions — the Legacy FC and RFA — merged together to create the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Since then, the LFA has quickly become the fastest growing promotion in MMA history with LFA 30 kicking off the 2018 fighting schedule on Jan. 12 in Costa Mesa, Calif. — a day shy of the anniversary of the league's first event on Jan. 13, 2016.
LFA matches — which viewers can catch on AXS TV — showcase the skills and expertise of some of the best fighters in the MMA sport. Last year, the LFA saw 29 of its fighters go on to compete in the UFC. As the league heads into its second year, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation for the league in 2018.
With the continued rise in popularity of mixed martial arts and combat sports, AXS TV Fights and LFA commentator Ron Kruck helps break down a few reasons why you should be watching LFA in what he anticipates to be the "biggest year of MMA on AXS TV."
1. Witness the start of an athlete's journey
Many of the fighters in the LFA are in the beginning chapters of their fighting careers, which offers fans both new and old the opportunity to follow an athlete's journey from the very start.
With the LFA being a feeder league into the UFC, avid watchers of the Ultimate Fighting Championship are sure to recognize fighters from the Legacy Fighting Alliance.
"Last year we put 29 LFA fighters through to the UFC," Kruck explains. "That's amazing because you'll get to see these athletes at the beginning of their careers, you see the potential, you see that they could one day become superstars. To produce 29 UFC fighters was a really incredible accomplishment, not only for AXS TV Fights, but for the LFA."
2. Watch well-rounded and disciplined athletes earn their glory
As with any sport, practice makes perfect. There are many different styles that fighters must push themselves to master to become a well-versed fighter in the octagon. Being a professional Mixed Martial Artists takes an incredible amount of training, persistence, and as Kruck explains, discipline.
"First and foremost what it takes to be a great MMA fighter is discipline. You have to be well-rounded. Back in the day when this sport was new in the mid 90s, you could get away with just being a wrestler or being a jiu-jitsu expert, because those disciplines dominated the sports back then. These days you have got to be well-rounded in all aspects of the sports, so jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, muay thai — everything comes into play in a fight. If you don't have all those disciplines and you're not well-rounded, you're going to be exposed pretty quickly. I think it's a lot of that. It's dedication, it's training and of course, heart."
3. The sport offers intense drama, the athletes offer incredible stories
Outside of the action and drama in the octagon, many MMA athletes offer incredible life stories.
One such story comes from LFA fighter Maikel Pérez who competed on the Cuban Olympic Wrestling Team in the 2008 Olympic. Pérez has since pursued his dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter in the states and was banned from returning to Cuba, where he left behind his family and friends.
"If you're a mainstream sports fan and you like drama and you like seeing athletes at the pinnacle of their career, then MMA and the LFA is for you," Kruck says. "[There are] Great storylines with these athletes, many of these fighters have just interesting stories as to where they've come from. In the LFA we have Olympic wrestlers, we have former college football players, we have many different storylines that will pull you in.
"It's the fighting that is the key. When you see these athletes perform inside the LFA octagon you can't help but be pulled into this sport. It's great action, it's great drama and that's what Mixed Martial Arts is all about. No one has ever gone undefeated in the MMA, so any night someone can pull off an upset."
4. LFA is all about the belts
MMA fans love a good title fight, and LFA has plenty to offer. Championship fights always provide an extra level of excitement and competition in the octagon, making them fan favorites. This year the LFA will see around 40 live events on AXS TV Fights this year, with many of them featuring titles.
"With the LFA, it's all about belts," Kruck said. "We have six championship fights in the next seven events. LFA 31 we have the featherweight title on the line. Then a huge night at LFA 32 that's happening on Jan. 26, two titles on the line, the LFA light heavyweight and middleweight strap will be up for grabs. So it's really about title fights, establishing new champions this year and coming out firing with what fans want and that's championship MMA."
Kruck also mentioned, "No one has ever gone undefeated in the MMA, so any night someone can pull off an upset."
5. There's always something to watch
AXS TV Fights and LFA offer up MMA excitement on a weekly basis with 2018 seeing even more events than 2017. Fights usually take place on Fridays with weigh-ins happening on Thursday. Weigh-ins can typically be caught live on AXS TV Fights Facebook Page while fights air on AXS TV every Friday.