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CFFC 96 Heavyweight Championship: Jamelle Jones vs Rakim Cleveland

The heavyweight title is at stake during CFFC 96.

There isn’t much in the way of action coming your way this weekend in the sport of MMA, but Philadelphia-based Cage Fury Fighting Championships is here to provide championship action in the main events of both CFFC 96 and CFFC 97 on Friday and Saturday nights respectively.

These events occur in the aftermath of CFFC graduate Paul Felder (17-6) announcing on live television that he’d be retiring from the sport last week. On Saturday night in the CFFC 97 headliner, the promotion’s strawweight championship is at stake between incumbent titleholder Elise Reed (3-0) and challenger Hilarie Rose (5-2) – a fight that we’ll talk about later on this week.

Our focus on this article is the battle for the promotion’s heavyweight strap in CFFC 96 on Friday night as current champion Jamelle Jones (11-6) will fight challenger Rakim Cleveland (20-13-1,) formerly of the PFL.

Friday’s main event during CFFC 96 will headline an 11-fight MMA card at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia on Facebook Live and UFC Fight Pass, with the exact start time of this bout pending due to the length of the rest of the fights on the docket. Coverage of main card action on UFC Fight Pass will begin Friday evening at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT, immediately following the undercard (including all Next Gen bouts) at 5:30 pm/2:30 pm on Facebook Live.

The same start times will apply for Saturday night’s CFFC 97.

As with all CFFC title fights, these will be a maximum of four rounds at five minutes per round, with a fifth round serving as a tiebreaker if the scorecards are level after 20 minutes of action.

If you need a refresher course on how CFFC works, read the following article right here

CFFC 96 Contender Comparison

Heading into the title fight at CFFC 96 on Friday night, challenger Cleveland is the taller man at 6-foot-3, with champion Jones standing six feet even. Rakim Cleveland owns a three-inch reach advantage (77 inches to 74 inches) over Jamelle Jones heading into Friday night in Philadelphia on UFC Fight Pass inside the 2300 Arena.

How They Got Here

Jamelle Jones has posted a 4-1 record in his last five MMA appearances, entering CFFC 96 on an ongoing two-fight winning streak. Most recently, he stopped Cody Goodale (7-5) by first-round knockout (punches) during the March 12 CFFC 93 co-headliner for the belt (in his first promotional appearance under the Cage Fury banner), making Friday’s fight Jones’ first defense of the 265-lb. strap.

Jones has previously fought twice under the CES MMA banner, going 1-1 in that promotion between October of 2019 and October of 2020, before joining CFFC for the fight against Cody Goodale earlier this year. The 4-1 stretch for Jamelle Jones comes in the aftermath of an appearance during the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, where he failed to secure a UFC contract upon getting knocked out by Mike Rodriguez on the Aug. 8, 2017 program.

In a recent interview with CFFC.tv, the champion promised “bad intentions” for his Friday night showdown with Cleveland.

In the other corner, Rakim Cleveland has gone 2-3 in his last five bouts. Like Jones, Cleveland is also on a two-fight winning streak heading into this main event.

Last time out, he scored a second-round knockout of Scott Hough (7-9) during North Iowa Fights just about a month ago on April 24. Astute MMA fans will remember Cleveland’s run during the 2018 and 2019 heavyweight competitions in the PFL, where he only went 1-5 in six MMA bouts during that two-year stretch– collecting just four points in the standings all told. The lone win in that period came during PFL 2 on June 21, 2018, on NBCSN.

That evening, he scored a third-round TKO due to a doctor’s stoppage after his opponent, Rashid Yusupov sustained a jaw injury with just one second remaining in the fight.

Follow me on Twitter at @DrewZuhosky to see my latest work. Also, follow us on social media at @OTHeroicsMMA to stay tuned in with our content! Please visit our web page to keep up with everything MMA

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