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LFA 121 Main Event Preview and Breakdown: McKenzie vs. Jones

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Your first MMA weekend of 2022 continues this Friday night as UFC Fight Pass fixture Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) begins its 2022 schedule of events (one which sees the promotion make its first-ever visit to New York in late February) when The Factory in Deep Ellum in Dallas plays host to LFA 121.

Barring any late postponements for any reason, COVID-19 protocols, or otherwise, LFA 121 will feature a 10-fight card from Dallas this coming Friday evening, including a nontitle showcase at 155 lbs.

Lightweight Bout Serves as LFA 121 Main Event

In your LFA 121 main event of the evening this Friday night, Aaron McKenzie (10-2-1 MMA, 3-0 LFA) will square off against Joshua Jones (11-5 MMA, LFA debut) in a battle of former Bellator MMA stalwarts. As this is a nontitle affair, the LFA 121 main event this Friday night is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close out the evening’s activities.

Entering Friday night’s LFA 121 main event, Aaron McKenzie is the taller competitor, standing 5-foot-11, three inches taller than Joshua Jones’ 5-foot-8 frame.

Additionally, Aaron McKenzie holds a seven-inch reach advantage (73 1/2 inches to 66 1/2 inches) over the debuting Joshua Jones ahead of the LFA 121 main event this coming weekend.

Aaron McKenzie Looks to Ride Momentum of Three-Fight Winning Streak

Aaron McKenzie enters Friday night’s LFA 121 main event having posted a 4-1 record across his last five MMA appearances, including an ongoing three-fight winning streak, with all three of these wins coming in the LFA.

Last time out, he scored a unanimous decision victory against Brandon Phillips nine months ago during LFA 104’s headlining fight. Given the long hiatus of almost nine full months between fights, one might have expected Aaron McKenzie to admit to having experienced ring rust during the intervening period.

However, this is something that couldn’t be further from the truth.

During a recent episode of The MMA Report Podcast, McKenzie explained that he’s been prepared for a fight– any fight– since May of 2021.

“I’ve just been training, trying to get better, and staying ready,” McKenzie said. “I wasn’t taking time off the last eight months. I was in camp the whole time, like I have been in camp for the last eight months, just ready for any short-notice opportunities that could have [come] up. I thought we had a few that just didn’t work out, so I’ve been waiting to fight. I’m really ready to get back in there.”

Although McKenzie has been in training camp for eight months to prepare for any opportunity, a big question and a storyline to watch out for in the LFA 121 main event this Friday night are one of whether or not he’s over-trained for a fight.

To that extent, we won’t know how adequate his training regimen has been in the run-up to the LFA 121 main event on Friday night until that cage door closes, so if he over-pursues Joshua Jones and is too aggressive against him, it could prove to be a crucial, costly mistake this weekend.

Debuting Joshua Jones Looks to Spoil Aaron McKenzie’s Momentum

In the other corner, the debuting Joshua Jones has posted a 3-2 record of his own entering the LFA 121 main event and is currently on a two-fight winning streak, with both wins coming in Bellator MMA.

Last time out, he scored a second-round knockout due to the ground and pound shots against Johnny Cisneros during the Bellator 263 undercard, a contracted catchweight at 180 lbs. on July 31 from The Forum in Los Angeles.

No interviews of Joshua Jones could be found online as of the time of this article, but if Jones is to stunt the momentum of Aaron McKenzie during the LFA 121 main event, his striking will need to be on full display.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the LFA 121 main event on Friday night looks to be a toss-up, with both men training in jiu-jitsu, yet Aaron McKenzie also trains as a kickboxer.

Watch For Aaron McKenzie’s Grappling

If the LFA 121 main event is to be won by Aaron McKenzie on Friday night, his grappling could very well be his key to victory.

Almost five years ago, McKenzie fought Justin Overton, and during the second round of a scheduled three, Overton found himself on the bottom position more often than not.

Every defensive attack that Justin Overton tried resulted in Aaron McKenzie switching up his offensive style before finally securing an armbar upon a takedown from the clinch after a failed standing guillotine choke, leaving Overton no choice but to tap and nap.

All Aaron McKenzie may need to end the LFA 121 main event in his favor via stoppage on Friday night is as little as one takedown.

Jones’ Striking Could Tell The Tale

In the other corner, Joshua Jones’ striking might give him the edge in the LFA 121 main event on Friday night, and one need look no further than the film of the Jones/Cisneros prelim from last summer.

Like McKenzie, Joshua Jones attempted some grappling late in the first round, specifically a failed rear-naked choke and guillotine, before switching to the top mount, from which he landed vicious ground and pound shots on Johnny Cisneros– who almost didn’t make it to the first-round bell.

Round two saw more of the same, as Joshua Jones scored with a double-leg takedown from a level change, eventually improving position before going into mount.

Jones’ fight IQ was on full display in this contest, as he shut down Cisneros’ efforts from every corner before finally ending things with heavy ground and pound shots, leaving referee Mike Beltran no option but to rescue Cisneros from any further damage in a one-sided bout.

If Joshua Jones is able to take Aaron McKenzie down, this could be the opening he needs to get the momentum on his ledger and score the win in the LFA 121 main event.

Final Thoughts

If there’s been one constant in MMA, it’s the fact that as little as one takedown, one punch, or one moment could end the fight– and the LFA 121 main event on Friday night looks to be no different.

There’s no other MMA event at the same time as the LFA 121 main event, so you shouldn’t have any reason not to tune into this one.

Prediction: Joshua Jones by First-Round Knockout.

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Featured Image Credits to LFA

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.