Stephanie “The Shark” Gonzalez and Jillian “Justice” Lybarger will settle unfinished business from earlier this year when they face off at Tuff-N-Uff: “Feastibrawl” on November 21st in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMARising.com confirmed plans for the 125-pound bout with the promotion on Wednesday.
Gonzalez was twice set to challenge for Lybarger’s 115-pound title this year, but both bouts were scrapped when Lybarger was unable to make weight. Also targeted for the November card is a rematch between new 125-pound champ Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey and Rachael “The Panther” Cummins.
Gonzalez (5-1-0 amateur) has only been competing for 16 months, but the 23-year-old has already held three amateur championships and is currently one of the sport’s top female prospects. After capturing the Momentum FC flyweight title in January with a victory over Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger, Gonzalez was matched up against Lybarger’s twin sister Jillian for the Tuff-N-Uff 115-pound championship. When Jillian was unable to make weight for the fight in April, her title was awarded to Gonzalez by default.
Tuff-N-Uff officials later reversed that decision and returned the belt to Lybarger, but she once again weighed in heavy for a planned bout with Gonzalez in May and was subsequently stripped of the title. Gonzalez was left without a fight and watched as Kaiyana Rain, whom Gonzalez defeated early in her career, went on to win the now-vacant belt with a quick win over Jordan Nicole “Ninja Princess” Gaza.
With the Tuff-N-Uff title picture up in the air, Gonzalez and Rain faced off in a rematch for Gonzalez’s Momentum FC title in July. Much like their first fight, the rematch was another competitive battle that went to the judges, but this time it was Rain who held the edge and she took a Unanimous Decision victory. Gonzalez had planned to turn pro following the fight, but she will compete as an amateur one more time when she looks to settle unfinished business with Lybarger in November.
Despite her struggles to make weight earlier this year, Lybarger (4-5-0) is also a solid prospect and she, too, has enjoyed a successful run in the amateur ranks. Lybarger won both of her fights for Tuff-N-Uff in 2011 and captured the promotion’s 115-pound women’s title with an impressive second-round stoppage of the aforementioned Gaza in November. The weight cut became too severe for Lybarger, however, and she was forced to relinquish her belt after the two failed attempts to make weight against Gonzalez. In August, Lybarger returned to Tuff-N-Uff and moved up to 125 pounds to face current champion Casey, but succumbed to a second-round armbar.
The long-awaited bout between Gonzalez and Lybarger will be contested at 125 pounds and could serve as the final amateur fight for both women. Lybarger’s sister, Jocelyn, has already joined the professional ranks and made a successful pro debut at Invicta FC 2 in July.
Casey (5-2-0) and Cummins (2-3-0) first met for the Tuff-N-Uff 125-pound women’s championship earlier this month. Casey prevailed via second-round armbar submission and posted her fourth straight win in the process, but Cummins was adamant that she had not tapped out to the hold and Tuff-N-Uff officials opted to book a rematch between the competitors for November. Cummins had won back-to-back fights prior to the loss to Casey and won this year’s Tuff-N-Uff 125-pound women’s tournament. Casey’s title will likely be on the line in the rematch.
Tuff-N-Uff: “Feastibrawl” takes place on November 21st at South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo Credit: Israel Grajeda)