Your MMA weekend gets started just a little early this third weekend in July as on Thursday night, New Jersey-based regional promotion Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) heads down south to Tampa Bay for CFFC 110 and the CFFC 110 co-main event.
All told, barring any late postponements between now and Thursday, CFFC 110 will feature an 11-fight card and a nine-fight professional card, including a championship doubleheader to close the show inside the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
As with all CFFC events, CFFC 110 and the CFFC 110 co-main event will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT Thursday, immediately following the undercard at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT over the promotion"s official YouTube channel.
Interim Flyweight Championship At Stake in CFFC 110 Co-Main Event Thursday
Santo Curatolo (6-2 MMA, 6-1 CFFC) will face off against Lloyd McKinney (15-8 MMA, CFFC promotional debut) for the CFFC Interim Flyweight Championship on Thursday night in the CFFC 110 co-main event. As is the case with all title fights in Cage Fury, the CFFC 110 co-main event will be an advertised maximum of four rounds at five minutes per round. If the scorecards are level after four rounds of action, a decisive fifth round will be held to determine the champion at 125 lbs.
New Champion or Second Reign As Champion For Winner?
One question that will be answered in the CFFC 110 co-main event this week is whether or not the promotion will be crowning a new champion after the fight is over. If McKinney wins the fight this Thursday, he will become the seventh different flyweight to hold the championship in CFFC history.
On the other side of the coin, if Curatolo wins on Thursday, it would make for his second reign (counting interim championships) to hold the CFFC Flyweight Championship, as he previously won the permanent title less than two years ago.
CFFC 110 Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into this championship fight on Thursday night, Lloyd McKinney stands as the taller man at 5-foot-7, compared to the 5-foot-3 frame of Santo Curatolo. Additionally, McKinney owns a sizeable nine-inch reach advantage (71 1/2 inches to 62 1/2 inches) over Curatolo in advance of the CFFC 110 co-main event this week.
Santo Curatolo Looks to Shake Off Ring Rust of Almost 10 Months This Thursday
Santo Curatolo enters the CFFC 110 co-main event on Thursday night having posted a record of 3-2 in his last five MMA appearances. Last time out, he dropped a unanimous decision at the hands of current UFC combatant Kleydson Rodrigues back in September on a telecast of Contender Series.
Since then, Curatolo attempted to return to CFFC against Hugo Paiva, being booked to fight him twice earlier on in the spring, but both of these bookings, including a planned meeting on May 27 in the CFFC 109 main event, got postponed ahead of the scheduled fight night, with the latter fight cancelled due to Paiva encountering travel issues.
Cage Fury President Rob Haydak mentioned during CFFC 109"s main card that the promotion tried to book a replacement adversary vs. Curatolo on short notice, to no avail.
“Nobody wants to fight him," Haydak said of the failed attempts to book a short-notice opponent for Curatolo on the May 27 telecast. “He"s snake-bitten right now. He"s had a really tough time. Nobody wants to fight him, and that"s a testament to how good he is."
Due to these cancellations, Santo Curatolo has not set foot in an MMA cage in close to 10 months" time, so while he may be eager to return to action this week, just how much ring rust is there for him as he looks to bolster his case for a UFC roster spot in the CFFC 109 co-main event?
Lloyd McKinney"s Teaching Moment Came In Boxing Ring
In the other corner, Lloyd McKinney has posted a record of 2-3 in his last five MMA bouts, most recently scoring a fourth-round submission by arm-triangle choke against Nate Williams back in April for the 3 River Throwdown Flyweight Championship. This victory came just two months after he sustained a first-round knockout in a boxing match versus Rayshaun Thomas in Minnesota.
McKinney was interviewed in April, and he calls the defeat in the boxing ring his most notable teaching moment.
“I think if I strip it down to the nuts and bolts of it, if I do the work and I train and I go out there and I"m prepared, I"ve been making it more than what it is, right?", McKinney pondered. “If I just go and fight, compete, give my best, good things are going to happen, but I think I was too focused on the outcome where I was just making mountains out of molehills. I"ve learned a lot. I"ve learned that there"s levels and layers to every sport, boxing being one of them. I definitely bit off more than I could chew in that last one, but as weird as it sounds, I learned more in two minutes and 45 seconds with a high-level boxer that I probably wouldn"t have learned in several rounds of sparring to where the circumstances and consequences weren"t as great."
With Lloyd McKinney now back in the friendly confines of MMA, can he add his second title belt in as many fights to his mantle on Thursday in the CFFC 110 co-main event?
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
The CFFC 110 co-main event on Thursday night looks to be a classic strength vs. strength matchup, but the edge has to be given here to Lloyd McKinney, who"s appeared in 23 professional fights in his MMA career, compared to just eight for Santo Curatolo. Will experience play a factor once the cage door closes, however?
Look For Santo Curatolo To Establish Control of the Fight With Takedowns
One aspect of Santo Curatolo"s fight game that"s shown itself to be evident on video is his ability to land the takedown with authority, as he did in the fall of 2019 versus Aleczander Castilhos in CFFC 79. Although it was slated to be a three-round affair, Curatolo needed less than one to get the victory, starting off the fight with a series of rapid-fire takedowns to quickly set the tone of the fight– yet Castilhos tried to steal control of the fight back, albeit in vain.
This was a fast-paced showdown, with Curatolo using the clinch to take Castilhos down every chance that he could. Curatolo knocked Castilhos down with a punch about three minutes into the fight, taking advantage of his stunned opponent by assuming the back mount and landing some ground and pound shots to Castilhos" head as a means of softening him up for a submission. From there, he wasted little time in getting Castilhos to roll over so that he could lock in the rear-naked choke to force his opponent to tap out inside the opening round.
If Santo Curatolo takes Lloyd McKinney down repeatedly, this fight will be his.
Lloyd McKinney Can Score The Submission, Too
In looking at Lloyd McKinney"s win-loss record, a number of his victories have come by way of submission, as was the case against Marc Tong Van in 2018. During the second round of a scheduled three, McKinney pieced up his opponent with punches before taking Tong Van to the clinch, punctuated by a nasty double-leg takedown.
Although Marc Tong Van got back to his feet, it was only momentarily as Lloyd McKinney dragged him back down to roll him over in an attempt to score a submission, and it was only a matter of time at that point. McKinney"s offence was too great for Tong Van to overcome, leading to a tight rear-naked choke under two minutes into round two.
If McKinney"s submission offence is on-target, he"ll walk away the winner of the CFFC 110 co-main event
Thursdays are normally a dead night in MMA, making CFFC 110 the only game in town this week.
This looks to be an entertaining fight, so be sure to tune into the CFFC 110 co-main event.
Prediction: Lloyd McKinney by Second-Round Submission.
main image credits