Combat Sports

LFA 134 Main Event Preview: Muin Gafurov vs. Herbeth Sousa

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Another weekend of MMA action is upon us, beginning this Friday evening as the LFA heads to the Lonestar State for LFA 134 and the LFA 134 main event.

As with all LFA cards, LFA 134 will be streamed live on Friday over UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s subscription-based streaming platform at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT.

Barring any postponements to any fights between now and Friday evening, LFA 134 will feature a 17-fight card from the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, TX, highlighted by a bantamweight showcase pitting two decorated fighters in the headliner.

Bantamweight Showcase Between Muin Gafurov vs. Herbeth Sousa Set For LFA 134 Main Event

Muin Gafurov (17-4 MMA, LFA promotional debut), a veteran of ONE Championship and a decorated combat sambo champion, will do battle against Herbeth Sousa (15-1 MMA, LFA promotional debut), a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the LFA 134 main event on Friday night in Texas.

As this is a nontitle fight on Friday, the LFA 134 main event will be an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close the evening’s action.

This isn’t the only MMA show on the docket for Friday night, as UK-based Cage Warriors returns to San Diego for Cage Warriors 139 from Humphrey’s by the Bay.

More on that card’s main event later.

LFA 134 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the LFA 134 main event on Friday night, Muin Gafurov stands as the taller man at 5-foot-7, with Herbeth Sousa countering at 5-foot-6.

Additionally, Muin Gafurov owns a 68-inch reach going into this headliner, with no such information accessible for Herbeth Sousa.

Muin Gafurov Had Soccer Aspirations Before Turning to Combat Sports

Muin Gafurov enters the LFA 134 main event on Friday night having gone 3-2 in his last five MMA fights, but he recently dropped a split decision at the hands of current UFC fighter Chad Anheliger on Sept. 7 during Dana White’s Contender Series on ESPN+.

However, MMA and combat sambo weren’t always on his mind, as the native of Tajikstan initially had his sights set on soccer for his athletic pursuits.

“I was a happy kid, and a very sporty one, but my mother always tried making me focus more on studies,” Gafurov said in a 2019 interview with ONE Championship. “I was thinking of going pro [in football], but my uncles interfered, and I was made to take combat sambo. They wanted me to follow in their footsteps- all males in my family were involved in combat sports. When I turned 14, my uncles started taking me to the gym with them. I used to run away at first, and secretly play football.”

Championships Would Soon Follow For Gafurov

As fate would have it, Muin Gafurov’s decision to turn from soccer to combat sambo paid off handsomely, when at the tender age of 18 years, he secured the World Combat Sambo Championship, adding another title in the event several years later, with major MMA soon calling.

Upon going undefeated on the regional circuit, he’d join the active roster of ONE Championship in January of 2016, spending six fights with the promotion before being released upon a loss to former UFC stalwart John Lineker in October of 2019 during ONE Championship: Dawn of Valor.

Now that he’s had a taste of major MMA, Muin Gafurov has been trying to get back to prominence, so can he use the LFA 134 main event on Friday night as a springboard?

Tune in and find out.

Two-Year Layoff For Herbeth Sousa Ends With LFA 134 Main Event

In the other corner, Herbeth Sousa has gone 5-0 in his last five MMA fights, seeing that streak extended last time out in Cage Fury Fighting Championships‘ CFFC 81 on Feb. 1, 2020, by unanimous decision against Alexander Keshtov for the CFFC Bantamweight Championship.

Not long after that event, the world was turned upside-down by COVID-19, as it had been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11 that year, putting MMA and sports at large temporarily on hold.

Sousa waited for more than a year to have another fight booked, but a planned contest for May 23, 2021, in his native Brazil versus Derinaldo Guerra da Silva was scrapped, as was the CDL Fight 2 card.

Having to go slightly over 28 months without stepping into an MMA cage, whether it’s for reasons within or beyond a fighter’s control, is far from an ideal scenario, but this is what Herbeth Sousa has had to contend with.

Therefore, it stands to reason that ring rust could be a problem for Sousa and his camp heading into the LFA 134 main event this coming Friday evening.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the LFA 134 main event on Friday looks to be a toss-up.

As previously stated, Muin Gafurov is a world champion in combat sambo and Herbeth Sousa is a black belt in BJJ, so the question here is an obvious one:

Just how long will it take for the LFA 134 main event to get to the mat?

Gafurov Can End LFA 134 Main Event With One Punch

One aspect of Muin Gafurov’s fight game that’s evident on film is his ability to end the fight with one single punch, something that Leandro Issa found out firsthand back in October of 2018.

During the first round of a scheduled three, Gafurov landed a left hook, with Issa trying to counterpunch with a shot of his own.

From there, it was a standup battle as Gafurov stalked Issa before scoring a vicious overhanded right punch to send Issa down and out less than halfway through the first round.

If even one punch hits the bullseye for Muin Gafurov, the LFA 134 main event will be over in a flash.

Sousa Can Be Vicious With Chokes

In the other corner, look for Herbeth Sousa to try and counterattack Muin Gafurov with submission attempts, because if he’s able to take Gafurov to the mat, as he did against Glyan Alves in March of 2019, look out.

In round one of a scheduled three, Sousa scored a double-leg takedown on Alves and took half-guard before grappling with him to get to side control, leaving Alves no opportunity to create offense for himself.

With Sousa now firmly in control of the match, he went to full mount and eventually back mount to try and sink in a rear-naked choke, leaving Alves no other choice but to tap out inside the first round.

As long as Herbeth Sousa scores just one takedown, it could be the opening he needs to get the victory in the LFA 134 main event.

Final Thoughts

At the core, the LFA 134 main event on Friday evening is a classic strength vs. strength matchup that’s worth logging onto UFC Fight Pass for.

One last note:

Both of these men are under 30 years of age, meaning they have yet to peak athletically, so imagine how good they’ll both be in their respective prime.

Prediction: Herbeth Sousa by First-Round Submission.

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.