FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15
LFA 173: FERNANDO vs. BEKOEV
Presented By RINGSIDE TICKET INC
MIDDLEWEIGHT WORLD TITLE UNIFICATION FIGHT
5-TIME IBJJF WORLD CHAMPION
OLYMPIC JUDO BRONZE MEDALIST
INTERIM WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT
PALMS CASINO RESORT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
LIVE on UFC FIGHT PASS® at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
Tickets are available NOW at Ticketmaster.com
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — LFA CEO Ed Soares announced today that the promotion will conclude its 2023 schedule in December with its debut in the “Fight Capital of the World” at LFA 173. The inaugural Las Vegas event will feature a Championship Doubleheader in the middleweight and women’s strawweight divisions. This event will take place at the Palms Casino Resort on the eve of UFC 296, which also takes place in Las Vegas and will serve as the UFC’s year-end event as well. LFA 173 will be the first LFA event to take place in the state of Nevada.
LFA 173: Fernando vs. Bekoev takes place Friday, December 15th at the Pearl Theater located inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Pearl Theater is Las Vegas’ premier concert theater. It has provided the setting for numerous UFC Fight Night and The Ultimate Fighter Finale events, making the venue synonymous with the sport of MMA in the city of Las Vegas and around the world.
The main event will feature a middleweight title unification bout when champion Lucas Fernando battles interim champion Azamat Bekoev. The co-main event will feature an interim women’s strawweight title fight as top undefeated prospect Giovanna Canuto faces Olympic Judo bronze medalist Natalia Kuziutina. The entire main card will be available worldwide on UFC FIGHT PASS® at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Tickets for LFA 173: Fernando vs. Bekoev are available for purchase through Ticketmaster.com.
Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. local, with the undercard starting at 5:00 p.m. The main card will start at 7:00pm.
“We are excited to feature Championship Doubleheader at our inaugural event in Las Vegas at LFA 173,” stated Soares. “The main event will see the second title unification bout in LFA history when LFA middleweight champion Lucas Fernando battles LFA interim middleweight champion Azamat Bekoev. Then in the co-main event, Las Vegas resident and top undefeated prospect Giovanna Canuto will fight for the LFA interim women’s strawweight title. She was originally scheduled to challenge our reigning champion Rose Conceição for the title, but Conceição was forced to withdraw due to an injury. Canuto will now face Russia’s Natalia Kuziutina.”
Fernando (9-2) comes from one of Brazil’s most famous MMA lineages. Marco Ruas won the UFC 7 one-night tournament. He would then teach Pedro “The Rock” Rizzo, who won “Fight of the Year” in 2001 for his epic five-round heavyweight title fight with Randy Couture at UFC 31. Now just like his mentor, Rizzo, and Ruas before him, Fernando has brought the same grit and determination to the LFA Octagon. The 26-year-old protégé comes from MMA royalty and quickly made them proud in his first four LFA appearances. This includes a flying knee knockout in the LFA’s debut event in Brazil at LFA 111, a Unanimous Decision win at LFA 126, another knockout at LFA 143, and then a third knockout for the promotion at LFA 154, which earned him the LFA middleweight title.
Bekoev (16-3) became the LFA’s tenth middleweight champion at LFA 160 when he fought for the interim title in Kentucky. The interim title opportunity became available when Fernando was busy preparing to headline Week 1 of the seventh season of Dana White’s Contender Series. Bekoev defeated top American prospect Dylan “The Mindless Hulk” Budka in a grueling 5-round, 25-minute battle, which saw Bekoev become the first fighter from Russia to capture LFA gold. Coincidentally, Budka would then step up as last-minute replacement on Dana White’s Contender Series just four weeks after Fernando competed on the show. Only Budka would secure a UFC contract. Now the 27-year-old Russian looks to join his American rival in the UFC by successfully unifying the LFA middleweight title.
The co-main event of LFA 173 will feature a fascinating interim women’s strawweight title fight.
Top undefeated prospect Giovanna “Diamond” Canuto (4-0) was scheduled to challenge the LFA women’s strawweight champion Rose Conceição (7-0) for the title, but Conceição was forced to withdraw from the bout due to an injury. Now the five-time IBJJF champion and reigning LFA Fans’ Choice Awards Female Fighter of the Year will fight Olympic Judo bronze medalist Natalia “Kuzya” Kuziutina (4-1) for the interim title. The young Brazilian is a world-class BJJ black belt, who has won all four of her bouts for the LFA in dominant fashion. In fact, the first three came in the first round by three different submissions. Canuto will now look to win her first MMA title against a two-time Olympic judoka.
Kuziutina represented her country of Russia twice in the sport of Judo at the Summer Olympics. The first Olympics that she competed at was in 2012 in London, England, United Kingdom. The Russian then returned to the Olympics for a second time in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was there where she earned an Olympic bronze medal. Kuziutina also won a silver medal at the World Judo Championships in 2019 and has won five gold medals at the European Judo Championships (four individual and one team). Her title fight with Canuto will now set up a clash of styles that will consist of the most accomplished BJJ player vs. the most accomplished Judo player in the history of Women’s MMA.
Currently Announced Fight Card:
Main Event | Middleweight Title Bout (185 lb)
Lucas Fernando (9-2) vs. Azamat Bekoev (16-3)
Co-Main Event | Interim Women’s Strawweight Bout (115 lb)
Giovanna Canuto (4-0) vs. Natalia Kuziutina (4-1)
Lightweight Bout (155 lb)
Aireon Tavarres (4-0) vs. Mitch Ramirez (7-1)
Welterweight Bout (170 lb)
Alfonso Leyva (6-1) vs. Sarek Shields (5-1)
Flyweight Bout (125 lb)
Aupuni Pagaoa (4-1) vs. Jordan Harris (3-0)
Lightweight Bout (155 lb)
Tyler Jones (1-0) vs. Ilay Barzilay (3-0)
Lightweight Bout (155 lb)
Pat Jones (0-0) vs Shane Shapiro (1-0)
In 2017, RFA and Legacy FC merged to form LFA, the premier developmental organization in Mixed Martial Arts. The combined forces of LFA launched the careers of over 300 athletes that have reached the pinnacle of MMA by competing in the UFC. In 2018, the promotion joined the Imperial Family Companies group (formerly London Trust Media). In 2019, the promotion announced a broadcast partnership with UFC FIGHT PASS®. In 2021, the LFA expanded internationally by hosting multiple events in Brazil.
Please visit LFA.com for bout updates and information. Visit the official LFA YouTube page at @LFAfights. LFA is on Facebook at Facebook.com/LFAfighting. LFA is also on Instagram at @LFAfighting and X (formerly Twitter) at @LFAfighting.
LFA is a professional Mixed Martial Arts promotion that gives rising stars and top contenders the opportunity to prove their talent to fans and leaders in the industry. LFA was formed by the powerhouse merger between RFA and Legacy FC. LFA presents live Mixed Martial Arts events on a monthly basis around the United States including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and Houston. Based in Las Vegas, NV, LFA is one of the most active and respected MMA organizations in the fastest growing sport in the world. (The Octagon, Ultimate Fighting Championship®, UFC®, and the eight-sided competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks owned exclusively by Zuffa, LLC. All rights reserved).
About UFC FIGHT PASS®:
UFC FIGHT PASS® is the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports. Since launching in 2013, UFC FIGHT PASS is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. FIGHT PASS provides its members with unlimited access to live UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims; live mixed martial arts and combat sports from around the world; original series and historical programming; special features; behind-the-scenes content; in-depth interviews; and up-to-the minute reports on the world of combat sports. UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers also have 24/7 access to the world’s largest fight library, featuring more than 20,000 bouts from dozens of combats sports organizations, as well as every fight in UFC history. Fight fans can access UFC FIGHT PASS on personal computers, iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, and Sony TVs with Android TV. For more information, please visit UFCFightPass.com.
About IMPERIAL FAMILY COMPANIES:
The Imperial Family Companies maintains a diversified portfolio with one common theme: bringing power to the people. The IFC is proud to partner with the LFA management team to showcase the greatest talents of tomorrow. Learn more about the IFC at ImperialFamily.com.
About PALMS CASINO RESORT:
Palms Casino Resort is making history as the first resort in Las Vegas fully owned and operated by a Native American Tribe. Palms Casino Resort features two distinct towers with 766 hotel rooms and suites, a diverse mix of bars, restaurants, live entertainment venues, and immersive lifestyle experiences across a 95,000-square-foot reimagined casino. Offering free valet and self-parking, the resort also includes over 190,000 square feet of meeting, convention, and event space; the Pearl, a 2,500-seat theater; an expansive pool, The Spa & Salon at Palms; a wedding chapel; the Brenden Theatre 14-screen cinema and nearly 600 units at Palms Place condominiums. Palms is located just west of the center of the Las Vegas Strip off I-15 on Flamingo Road. Palms Casino Resort is owned by The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (“SMGHA”) an affiliate of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. For more information visit Palms.com or the Palms Press Room. Follow Palms on social media Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.