It did not come as easily as many had anticipated, but Tara LaRosa picked up her 21st professional victory tonight at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 2 in Kearney, Nebraska. LaRosa submitted late-replacement opponent Kelly Warren with one second left in what was supposed to be a flyweight bout.
Both LaRosa and Warren came in overweight for their fight, just as Elaina “Beef” Maxwell and Ashley “Loca” Sanchez did for a planned featherweight matchup. Sanchez was much quicker than Maxwell throughout the bout, but Maxwell’s takedowns and ground control earned her two of three rounds.
LaRosa (21-2-0) looked to take the fight to the mat early in round one, but Warren (3-3-0) easily avoided the takedown and stayed on her feet. Warren landed a one-two, but came up short with her follow-up punches. LaRosa clinched up after a pair of left hooks from Warren and backed her less experienced foe up to the cage. Warren took LaRosa’s back after a hip toss attempt and LaRosa worked for a Kimura in the final minute while Warren threw knees to the thigh.
The pace remained measured in the second round as neither fighter was willing to commit to much offence early on. Warren landed a lead left hook and a leg kick that prompted LaRosa to clinch. Warren reversed and the fighters briefly exchanged knees to the body. Warren backed away and LaRosa pulled guard. She swept into top position, but referee Jim Axtell quickly brought the fight back to the feet. LaRosa countered kicks from Warren with a one-two and a left hook before the bell and she appeared to take the round.
With the fight potentially up for grabs due to the razor-thin opening round, LaRosa jabbed early in round three and Warren stuck to kicks from the outside. She took LaRosa’s back and threw her to the mat, but LaRosa attempted submissions and used an ankle pick to take top position again. She first looked for a heel hook and then transitioned to back control and finally mount. Warren gave up her back and tried to escape, but LaRosa kept her down. LaRosa landed punches and spun into a late armbar. Warren held on and was about to make it to the bell, but tapped out with one second remaining.
Ring rust looked to play a significant factor for the veteran LaRosa, who had not fought in over a year. She appeared to be on her way to winning a clear-cut decision prior to the last-second submission, but the bout’s slow pace left the audience restless at times.
Winner: Tara LaRosa by Submission (Armbar) at 4:59 of round three. She improves to 21-2-0.
Earlier in the night, Maxwell (7-4-0) and Sanchez (4-3-0) faced off in a bout that was at times very similar to the LaRosa-Warren matchup later on the card. Maxwell, who competed at or near 140 pounds in recent bouts, appeared to be significantly slower at the higher weight. Nevertheless, she overcame Sanchez’s speed advantage with takedowns in the first two rounds and some solid ground and pound.
Sanchez kicked from a distance in the opening round as Maxwell looked to close the distance with punching combinations. It was Sanchez who initiated a clinch, but Maxwell tripped her to the mat and tried for a top-side guillotine choke. Sanchez escaped and prevented Maxwell from passing her guard, but Maxwell kept her down and even tried for an Achilles lock shortly before the bell.
Maxwell jabbed in round two and Sanchez fired back with a knee and a right hook. Maxwell landed a body kick and a combination and countered a head kick with more punches. She caught a kick and sent Sanchez to the mat with a left cross. From there, Maxwell was active with punches from the top. She mixed in elbows as Sanchez turtled against the cage. Maxwell stood and kicked at Sanchez’s legs, then dove in with a punch in the final seconds.
Perhaps knowing that she was down on the scorecards, Sanchez picked up the pace in round three. She landed a nice left hook and kept her distance with kicks and quick punches. Right hooks were exchanged and Sanchez got the better of it. Maxwell displayed a solid chin as Sanchez landed three right hands flush on the jaw. Sanchez circled on the outside with kicks as Maxwell walked her down with punches and a knee as the round came to an end.
Despite a solid final round for Sanchez, Maxwell’s control of the first ten minutes was enough to earn her the win on all three judges’ scorecards. However, it was not the type of performance that propelled Maxwell past fellow Strikeforce veterans Alexis Davis and Shana Nelson in prior bouts, and all four women blamed a faulty sauna at RFA 2 for contributing to their failure to make weight.
Winner: Elaina Maxwell by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) after three rounds. She improves to 7-4-0.
In amateur action on the preliminary card, Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (5-2-0) handed Elizabeth Phillips (2-1-0) the first defeat of her MMA career with a second-round guillotine choke. The submission victory came just 58 seconds into round two. Duke is expected to turn pro later this year.