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LFA 128 Main Event Preview: McKenzie vs. Clay

Last Friday, the LFA went dark, but this week, the MMA promotion returns for the first of three straight Fridays of action, culminating in the LFA 128 main event– and there’s a strap on the line at 155 lbs.

Lightweight Supremacy At Stake In LFA 128 Main Event This Friday

LFA 128 (Friday, 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT, UFC Fight Pass) will feature a maximum of 10 bouts (barring anything unforeseen between now and fight night), highlighted by a battle for the Vacant LFA Lightweight Championship in the LFA 128 main event.

Aaron McKenzie (10-2-1 MMA, 3-0 LFA) will return to the LFA cage for the first time in 51 weeks to do battle against Lucas Clay (8-1 MMA, 3-0 LFA.)

As with all MMA championship bouts, Friday night’s headliner will be a maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

Its winner will become the sixth different man to hold the LFA Lightweight Championship, succeeding now-former titlist Nick Browne, who vacated the belt in May of 2021 upon joining Bellator MMA’s active roster.

LFA 128 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the LFA 128 main event on Friday night, Lucas Clay, middle name Cassius, a tribute to late boxing great Muhammad Ali, of whom he is a relative is the taller man at six feet even, with Aaron McKenzie standing 5-foot-11.

In addition, Clay owns a one-inch reach advantage (74 1/2 inches to 73 1/2 inches) over McKenzie going into the title fight this coming weekend.

Aaron McKenzie Looks To Bounce Back After Year-Long Layoff and Canceled Fight

Aaron McKenzie enters the LFA 128 main event on Friday evening having posted a record of 4-1 in his last five MMA fights and is currently on a three-fight winning streak.

As previously stated, he’s not appeared in an MMA fight in 51 weeks’ time, having most recently defeated Brandon Phillips via unanimous decision on April 14, 2021 during the LFA 104 main event of the evening.

From there, McKenzie was to have fought in the LFA 121 main event this past January in a nontitle fight against Joshua Jones, with the latter being forced to withdraw from the card amid a failed weight cut, and McKenzie was taken off of the event altogether.

Jones was then booked to fight in the Cage Warriors 133 main event in San Diego early last month, losing via unanimous decision to Kyle Driscoll.

Much like Kyle Driscoll in the run-up to Cage Warriors 133 back in March, Aaron McKenzie is now facing the end of a lengthy layoff of his own, though not quite as long as Driscoll’s layoff.

During the run-up to his postponed encounter against Jones two and a half months ago, McKenzie told James Lynch:

“I thought all kinds of things the last six years and nothing has ever worked out. I’ll do whatever I’ve got to do to get to the UFC. If they want me on (Dana White’s Contender Series,) I’ll go on there and put a dude out.”

Given the past history of the LFA Lightweight Championship, with only one of the previous five champions (Robert Watley) being on the LFA’s active roster long enough to successfully defend the title, doing so twice before vacating the strap to join the PFL’s active roster for the 2018 season, a victory here on Friday night could be a stepping stone for a spot in a major promotion, such as the UFC.

Whether or not a victory on Friday night will be a stepping stone for a UFC roster spot remains to be seen, so tune into the LFA 128 main event to watch what happens.

Lucas Clay Looks To Become Champion Just Like His Namesake and Defend Family Honor in LFA 128 Main Event

In the other corner, Lucas Clay has posted a 4-1 record of his own in his last five fights and is currently on a four-fight winning streak.

Most recently, he scored a second-round submission due to a Brabo choke against Jake Kozorosky last September in LFA 115’s main event.

Clay recently spoke to MMA News about the fight, saying:

“Camp’s been going perfect. It’s been a little bit uncomfortable how perfect it is– because it’s all surreal. I don’t have anything that I feel like I’m struggling with.”

Clay then spoke on the difference between training camp for a main event title fight versus a nontitle main event.

“I did a little interview not too long ago and he asked me the same question,” Clay said. “I didn’t give it too much thought until I was talking about it, but this really felt like a championship camp. We did so much right, from cardio, to techniques, to mental training and recovery. We treated recovery differently. Everything was superb. This is how it should feel, and this is how I’m going to treat every fight when I’m a full-time fighter.”

Muhammad Ali won the WBA Heavyweight Championship four times and the WBC Heavyweight Championship twice more to become, by many accounts, including his own, the greatest fighter of all-time.

On Friday night, during the LFA 128 main event, could Lucas Clay defend his family honor and take the first steps toward greatness?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the LFA 128 main event on Friday night seems to favor Lucas Clay, who has a balanced background in judo, taekwondo, karate martial arts, and wrestling.

Clay is also a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Comparatively, Aaron McKenzie trains in BJJ and kickboxing

Watch For Aaron McKenzie’s Grappling

If the LFA 128 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 it will take for McKenzie to end the LFA 128 main event on Friday night is as little as one takedown.

Lucas Clay Can Grapple in His Own Right

In the other corner, grappling is also the forte of Lucas Clay, something that Devin Webber found out firsthand in Shamrock FC almost six years ago.

During the second round of a scheduled three, Webber took Clay down but Clay was able to fight off his opponent’s threat for a submission.

Although Webber took mount, Clay worked hard to get to half guard and eventually was able to work his way to full guard to eventually secure the triangle choke.

All Lucas Clay needs to score the victory in the LFA 128 main event on Friday night is decent grappling to overpower his opponent.

Final Thoughts

Not much more needs to be said about the LFA 128 main event except that this one will probably be decided on the cage mat.

Let the ground war begin.

Prediction: Lucas Clay by Unanimous Decision.

Featured image credit to Legacy Fighting Alliance

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