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April Announcements: A busy month for New Mexico MMA

March Madness is coming to a close and it is time for the monthly round up of match ups featuring New Mexico’s hard working combat athletes. The area as we know is rich in talent ranging from world champion boxers to elite level mixed martial artists at all weight ranges. Last month was a quality month for New Mexico as several high profile fighters had very prolific opportunities. While some succeeded and other faltered, New Mexico fight fans alike have plenty to be proud of rooting for our local athletes.

In the most premier show featuring New Mexico fighters; UFC 158 was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and the event was co-main evented by Carlos Condit. While the bout was a candidate for “Fight of the Year”, Condit came out on the losing end of a decision loss. Also tasting defeat on the card, Quinn Mulhern lost to Rick Story. We wish for a quick turnaround for both fighters and are eagerly anticipating their next yet to be announced fights.

Also finding success in the fighting scene was Flyweight Nick Urso (5-1) who submitted his opponent by triangle choke midway through the second round in a fight held under the Red Rock Rumble promotion in Moab, Utah.

The month of April may be busier then March and it all starts with Invicta 5 being held on April 5th. Three Jackson-Winklejohn representatives will take to the Invicta cage and it starts with Jodie Esquibel, followed by Sarah Kaufman and highlighted by Michelle Waterson challenging for the promotions Atomweight Title.

The next day, UFC on FUEL TV 9 will be live in Stockholm, Sweden and New Mexico fight fans can look out for another Jackson-Winklejohn fighter in Ultimate Fighter 14 winner Diego Brandao as he takes on the very crafty and dangerous in Pablo Garza in a very significant Featherweight bout that could earn Brandao top contender fights.

Also that evening, Rio Rancho will have some local fights for fans of live combat to attend as Judgement MMA hosts their second smoker. The smoker will feature kickboxers from all over New Mexico and surrounding areas.

The second weekend of the month will start on April 12th with Legacy 12 in Dallas Texas. Legacy Fighting Championship is a Texas based promotion that has consistently featured New Mexico fighters. On this card, top prospect Hunter Tucker will face fellow unbeaten fighter Kevin Aguilar.

In the heart of downtown Albuquerque, the FIT NHB gym will be host to their popular series of smokers labeled “Battlegrounds”. The smokers often feature several talented fighters from the host gym as well as very competitive match ups between fighters from gyms in surrounding areas.

The next night, another UFC event will feature New Mexico athletes as the Ultimate Fighter Finale live from Las Vegas brings possibly two Jackson-Winklejohn products. Scheduled to be in action is heavyweight Travis Browne and he is paired with Jiu Jitsu ace Gabriel Gonzaga.

Also yet to be announced is whether Ultimate Fighter contestant Bubba McDaniels will be placed on the card. The UFC traditionally brings over several contestants for the undercard and as one of the more popular and successful figures on the reality TV show, it will be expected that he will be included.

The following Friday will be time for some XFC action. The XFC promotion has hosted locals Heather Clark and Joby Sanchez and this event will feature Sanchez’s teammate and very popular female fighter Angelica Chavez as she returns to action to face off with Stephanie Skinner. The event will be on April 19th and can be caught through online stream.

Sharing some attention that day will be Jackson-Winklejohn’s Anthony Sessions, who will play the underdog role at World Fighting Federations tenth show where the Grants native will match up with wrestling sensation and top ranked prospect Henry Cejudo. The fight has garneded loads of attention based on his olympic wrestling accolades while Sessions brings in the advantage of an extensive MMA career.

The UFC brings the big names on April 20th as the promotion returns to network television for the UFC on FOX 7 event. On the undercard, FIT NHB’s Tim Means will compete in a 155-pound lightweight division tilt against former Strikeforce number one contender Jorge Masvidal. The fight should be nothing short of fireworks as both fighters have aggressive striking abilities and look for the finish.

Las Cruces native Joseph Benavidez will also be on the card, looking to bounce back from losing in a Flyweight title fight when he battles Darren Uyenoyama. The two skilled 125-pound fighters should fill the undercard with some fast paced action.

In the co-main event, top Jiu Jitsu ace Frank Mir will welcome Daniel Cormier into the UFC’s Heavyweight division. While Mir is not a New Mexico native, he has made Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winklejohn gym a huge part of his training camp for this fight. Training alongside teammates like Jon Jones and Travis Browne, Mir’s big camp change may help tremendously against the very talented Cormier.

The big show of the month however is UFC 159, which takes place on April 27th and will take place inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The fight card is headlined by Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones in what will be his fifth defense of the title. He will be taking on trash talking and perennial multi-division contender Chael Sonnen after both fighters coached the latest season of the Ultimate Fighter reality television show.

Before the main event however, three other fighters from the Jackson-Winklejohn camp will compete on what arguably is the biggest show of the first half of 2013. Starting on the preliminary card, crowd favorite Leonard Garcia will look to get on the winning track when he faces off with guillotine wizard Cody McKenzie.

Russian Sambo specialist Rustam Khabilov will look to build on the momentum of his last fight. At the Ultimate Fighter Finale 16 in December, Khabilov needed just a suplex and follow up punches to emphatically make a statement in his UFC debut that last a shade over two minutes. He draws unbeaten prospect Yancy Medieros in what should be an interesting style match up.

Maybe one of the brightest young fighters climbing up the ranks, UFC bantamweight Erik Perez returns to the cage to face off with Johnny Bedford. Perez is hot on the heels of a three fight win streak in the UFC and eight fights total. He is one of the most polarizing fighters of Mexican descent and he faces off with a fighter in Bedford who has faced off with a few Jackson-Winklejohn fighters including Frank Gomez and John Dodson.

As always stay tuned to SWFight.com for coverage, results and breakdowns throughout the month as we have several local hard working athletes competing in both national and regional promotions. Make sure to stay current with updates so you know when, where and how to keep up with the fights. Also, if we missed anyone feel free to contact us on our Facebook or Twitter page so we can include every one in our month to month announcements.

About Phillip Lujan

Phillip Lujan is one of the lead contributors and a featured writer for SWFight.com. Specializing in MMA breakdowns and analysis, Phillip is considered the MMA aficionado on staff. With nearly ten years of experience in combat sports, gazing through the eyes perceptively as a fan and a cornerman and from fight manager to analyst. He can be reached on twitter at @KingStark24 or through email at marcello.lujan@gmail.com.