Ryan Keenan captures RFC 31 Lightweight Title; Shaq and Marcus Jones in attendance

click to enlarge Former NBA center Shaquille O'Neal cheered on fellow Orlando resident Ryan Keenan. - Chris Girandola
Chris Girandola
Former NBA center Shaquille O'Neal cheered on fellow Orlando resident Ryan Keenan.

Tampa turned up in numbers and style on Friday night for another version of the Real Fighting Championships at the A La Carte Pavilion. Former NBA center Shaquille O’Neal and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end and Ultimate Fighter Marcus Jones were among a sold-out crowd that saw an 11-bout fight card highlighted by the Florida State Lightweight Title match between Ryan “Who Dat” Keenan and Ivan “Angry Bird” Delvalle.

Keenan, fighting for Gracie Orlando, excited the crowd with a dominating performance, easily defeating Tampa resident DelValle with a first round knockout to capture the belt. Keenan raised his record to 5-2 while Delvalle suffered his first loss, dropping to 3-1.

click to enlarge Tampa resident Luis Zequeira squares off against Jason Valle. - Chris Girandola
Chris Girandola
Tampa resident Luis Zequeira squares off against Jason Valle.

The main event fight featured Sean “The Nightmare” Hollis and Joe “The Puncher” Johnson in the Heavyweight Division. Hollis, who grew up in Tampa and attended Hillsborough High School, returned from a hiatus to easily defeat Johnson.

“It was great to be back and fighting in front of an energetic crowd,” said Hollis, who raised his record to 2-1. “The RFC is a great organization and gives fighters throughout Florida an opportunity to showcase their skills. We are lucky to have events like these to give fans of (mixed martial arts) to see quality fights.”

click to enlarge Tampa resident Sean Hollis celebrates his win over Joe Johnson in the Heavyweight Division of RFC 31 at the A La Carte Pavilion. - Chris Girandola
Chris Girandola
Tampa resident Sean Hollis celebrates his win over Joe Johnson in the Heavyweight Division of RFC 31 at the A La Carte Pavilion.

Hollis praised the sponsors for being able to stage such a quality event, including local businesses like Scores Tampa, XPTV Sports, Byrd & Gonzalez Law Firm, and Southern Tire Company.

The fight card had several local fighters who competed including Jay Marrero (Riverview), Dave Mundell (Clearwater), Billy Quarantillo (Tampa), Luis Zequeria (Tampa), Jay Beharry (Tarpon Springs), Aalon Cruz (Tampa), and Tito Rodriguez (Ruskin).

The next RFC event is scheduled for August. For more information, visit  rfcmma.com.


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