Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) officials announced the promotion’s first “Fight for the Troops” event, and Virginia’s Joint Base Langley-Eustis will play host to the Nov. 22 card, which streams live on UFC FIGHT PASS.
In the night’s main event, three-time UFC veteran Mike “Biggie” Rhodes (12-6) takes on heavy-handed knockout artist Najim “The Afghan Rock” Wali (6-4) for the vacant CFFC light heavyweight title.
“It has long been a dream of mine to take the CFFC cage to one of our nation’s great military bases and put on an amazing night of entertainment for the men and women who protect our country,” CFFC President Rob Haydak said. “It is a true honor to have the opportunity to produce an event at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, in front of personnel from both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and we think this will be a very special night in our organization’s history.”
The troops at Joint Base Langley-Eustis have long been avid supporters of MMA, and UFC notables such as Colby Covington, Todd Duffee, Urijah Faber, Paul Felder, Felice Herrig, Kevin Lee, Jens Pulver, Ben Rothwell, Valentina Shevchenko, Brad Tavares and James Vick, among others, have visited the military facility in recent years. However, CFFC 80 will mark the first time the installation will host an event streaming live on UFC FIGHT PASS.
A member of Wisconsin’s famed Roufusport gym, Rhodes competed as a middleweight during his time in the UFC, even taking former champ Robert Whittaker the distance before falling short on the cards. However, he has since moved up to light heavyweight and is now hoping to secure CFFC gold in his promotional debut. On the other side of the cage, Wali also competes in the CFFC for the first time, but he brings with him a track record that shows proof of his destructive capabilities, with all six of his career wins coming by way of stoppage, including a pair of first-round knockouts that each lasted 66 seconds or less. In fact, Wali has never seen a fight go to the scorecards during his seven-year pro run.
CFFC 80’s co-main event features a No. 1 contender fight in the middleweight division, with Rafael “The Universal Soldier” Celestino (8-2) facing two-time Dana White’s Contender Series alum Jamie Pickett (10-4).
Brazil’s Celestino holds notable victories over CFFC veteran Manny Walo and current UFC light heavyweight Vinicius Moreira. He makes his CFFC debut on the strength of an 8-1 record in his past nine fights, with the lone loss in that stretch coming to current UFC fighter Punahele Soriano. Meanwhile, Pickett is a dangerous prospect who has earned seven of his 10 career wins by knockout. The North Carolina native has flirted with the big show, twice earning slots on Dana White’s Contender Series but suffering losses to current UFC fighters Soriano and Charles Byrd. He’ll now look to forge another path to the UFC.