Posted 05/13/2014 by Jesse Scheckner in Absolute Fighting Championship

Legendary MMA promotion Absolute Fighting Championship back after seven years this Friday


One of South Florida’s oldest and most storied mixed martial arts promotions, Absolute Fighting Championship (AFC) is making its long-awaited return after a seven year period of dormancy this Friday with the aptly-titled AFC: The Return at Passion at Seminole Hard Rock Resort and Casino.

Boasting a lineup largely consisting of up-and-coming prospects, the organization’s 21st show is very much a back-to-basics endeavor relying on grassroots promotion and a heavy presence of talent from the iconic American Top Team, whose co-owner Dan Lambert is owner and president of the AFC and whose Sunrise head coach and Coconut Creek striking coach Roger Krahl – he himself a former exciting AFC competitor who “always went out on [his] shield” – serves as matchmaker and operations manager.

“This is the step before the big show,” says Krahl. “I’ve got guys like Colby Covington and Steve Montgomery who are both about two fights away from getting UFC contracts. I’ve got some other guys who are maybe coming off a loss or two that need to get it back together. This is the breeding ground. This is where the next UFC guys are coming from.”

To some extent, it sort of always has been that way with the AFC; it’s a final test – a rite of passage, so to speak – before the next crop of combat athletes make their way to the glitz and grandeur of the Vegas premier league.

“Back in those days, more guys came to the UFC through the AFC than any other show,” recalls Krahl. “We did an exact calendar. We have it up on social media. More than 40 guys that came up through the AFC went on to fight in the UFC. When you look at the who’s who that fought in the AFC, from some of our own [American Top Team] guys like Thiago Alves, Mike Brown, Jorge Masvidal to guys like Jens Pulver, Jeremy Horn and Chris Lytle, it’s a long, long list of AFC vets that have fought in the UFC. So it’s kind of a cool thing that Dan brought it back, kind of breeding ground for a lot of the new talent that we have down here in Florida.”

Unfortunately, the organization had to close its doors for financial reasons. Even though the UFC had by then begun to pick up steam following the storybook success of their reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, the overall body of the sport – the proverbial food chain – was very much back then the way that it remains today: top heavy. That considered, Krahl, Lambert and the rest of the crew and fighters putting together Friday’s event are confident that things will be different this time.

“Back in 2007, there were a lot of other shows coming at the time and, on a business level, the show was definitely not a money maker back in those days,” he says. “MMA was not where it is now – mainstream. AFC was bringing guys in from all over the world back then because there were a lot fewer fighters, camps and teams to choose from. Now, the sport has blown up. Yeah, you bring guys in for opponents, but there’s a lot more people involved in MMA, seven years later, than there were at the finish of AFC back then.”

This Friday’s main event will feature a compelling matchup between the aforementioned Top Team standout Steve Montgomery (who owns a knockout win over TUF winner Colton Smith) and UFC vet Jason Gilliam, who accepted the fight on short notice, hoping to rebound from a second dejecting run in the MMA major leagues.

“Steve Montgomery’s tough, man; he’s on his way up for sure,” says Krahl. “I think this fight is going to be huge because his opponent switched like three times, and he’s taken all comers. Steve won’t say ‘no’ to anybody, and I got this guy who’s 13-6 – a two-time UFC veteran – to step up and take the fight and man… it’s going to be good. Jason’s trying to make his way back.”

In the co-main event, ATT top welterweight prospect Colby Covington (whose exclusive interview with MMA Owl will run tomorrow) will take on Jay Ellis, an MMA journeyman who, despite a lopsidedly losing record, owns wins over current Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus and former UFC sideshow attraction Kevin Ferguson – better known as Kimbo Slice – whom he knocked out cold in 24 seconds back in October 2005. His “anywhere, any time and at any weight” attitude has placed him across the cage from fighters such as Bart Palaszewski, Nate Mohr, Rory Markham, Pat Curran (twice), and current UFC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.

“Colby’s one of our top welterweight prospects at American Top Team,” Krahl says. “I’ve had like five opponents for this guy [who have all dropped out]. I’m talking about flying somebody in from anywhere, posting on the internet and all those sites. This guy will fight anybody. He’s another one that’s always exciting.

“His opponent, Jay Ellis, has an almost upside-down losing record, but he’s got almost 70 pro fights and he’s tough. He’s a gamer. He’s fought a lot of big names.”

In the only women’s fight of the evening, Invicta fighter Valerie “Trouble” Letourneau – who took current UFC bantamweight title challenger Alexis Davis to a split decision back in 2007 and almost made it into the Ultimate Fighter house last season – will face Jasmine Quezada, a tough Texan who will make Absolute Fighting Championship the seventh promotion she’s appeared under the banner of when she enters the cage.



Welterweight (170 lb.) Fight
Steve Montgomery [5-2]
Jason Gilliam [13-6]

Light Heavyweight (205 lb.) Fight
Brian Houston [4-2]
Christopher Hicks [2-4]

Welterweight (170 lb.) Fight
Colby Covington [4-0]
Jay Ellis [13-53]

Women’s Bantamweight (145 lb.) Fight
Valerie Letourneau [4-3]
Jazmine Quezada [1-3]

Heavyweight (206 and up) Fight
Mehdi Hassan [3-3]
Alonzo Roane [3-4]

Welterweight (170 lb.) Fight
Taylor Krahl [3-3]
Ron Imhoff [6-5]

Lightweight (155 lb.) Fight
Jason Jimenez [4-6]
Tony Way [2-4]

Welterweight (170 lb.) Fight
Jake Gombocz [2-2]
Willie Floyd [1-1]

Middleweight (185 lb.) Fight
JD Domengeaux [1-0]|
Matthew Jones [6-7]


AFC: The Return, sponsored by Brawl and Maul, is occurring this Friday, May 16th, at Passion at the Seminole Hard Rock Resort and Casino, located at 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, FL. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the first fight starting promptly at 7 p.m. Prices for general admission start at $25, VIP starts at $50 and VIP Tables for four are available for $300. For advanced fight card information, click HERE, and for any other information, call 954-425-0705 or 954-742-5753.


*Fight card subject to change


Follow writer Jesse Scheckner on Twitter: @JesseScheckner.


Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well committed to nonfiction storytelling. He is the 2014 Florida MMA Awards "Best MMA Media Correspondent" winner and a two-time Miami New Times "Best Of" winner. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.