The vacant RFA featherweight title was on the line Friday night at RFA 17 when Mark Dickman and Justin Lawrence squared off in the co-main event at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The RFA featherweight title was vacated by Brian Ortega, who failed a drug test recently, when he bolted for the UFC.
Lawrence (5-2), a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter, entered as the underdog against Dickman (9-1), who entered the night on a four-fight winning streak.
Play-by-play coverage from the RFA 17 co-main event can be seen below:
Round 1: Lawrence was staying low in anticipation of a takedown attempt from Dickman, while pawing out a jab to keep his range. After coming in for a flurry, Lawrence found himself against the cage and Dickman had a firm grasp on his body. Dickman was fighting hard to get Lawrence to the mat, but Lawrence was keeping his left hip against the cage to prevent Dickman from taking his back from the standing position. Dickman continued to look for a back take before dropping for a double but Lawrence was showing off some impressive takedown defense. Dickman dumped Lawrence temporarily, but Lawrence popped right back up to his feet as the bell sounded. FanSided scorecard: 10-9, Dickman
Round 2: Lawrence was working the body before Dickman shot for another takedown, but Lawrence sprawled and delivered some hard shots as Dickman made his way back to his feet. Lawrence was finding some rhythm on his feet, but the bout was temporarily halted after Dickman took a low blow. Dickman once again went back to his wrestling when the action restarted, but Lawrence was staying on his feet with his back to the cage before the two were separated by the referee. FanSided scorecard: 10-9, Lawrence (19-19)
Round 3: Lawrence landed a nice three-punch combination that started with an uppercut and began stalking Dickman around the cage. Dickman shot for a single-leg, but found himself caught in an arm-in guillotine. Lawrence let go of the guillotine to continue fighting off the takedown attempt as he showed great balance. After another stalemate, the fighters were separated. Every time Lawrence would land a shot, Dickman would go for a takedown. The crowd in South Dakota was getting restless as Dickman did nothing but hug Lawrence against the cage while eating short shots to the side of the head. Dickman closed the distance after another flurry, but found Lawrence on his back. Another stalemate, another separation. Lawrence attempted a spinning backfist that missed, but he continued to keep the pressure on Dickman. FanSided scorecard: 10-9, Lawrence (29-28)
Round 4: Dickman came out swinging in the penultimate round. Lawrence caught Dickman with a huge roundhouse kick and followed it up with a spinning heel kick. Dickman ate the shots, but his nose was busted open. Dickman went for a takedown immediately after the kicks and finally got Lawrence to his feet. Dickman went for a triangle choke attempt, but Lawrence spun out of danger and got back to his feet. The referee separated the two fighters after Dickman went back to hugging against the fence. Lawrence started to open up his striking. Lawrence was keeping his hands low in an attempt to lure Dickman into a striking war and it seemed to be working. Dickman was beginning to throw more — including a spinning kick to the body — but Lawrence was in no real danger. Lawrence shot for a takedown of his own to end the round, but he was unsuccessful. FanSided scorecard: 10-9, Lawrence (39-37)
Round 5: The final round started off with — you guessed it — Dickman holding Lawrence against the cage. The fighters were separated… again. Lawrence landed a nice combination, but found his back right against the cage before being separated. Lawrence attempted to bring some excitement by starting to ix up his strikes, but Dickman still wasn’t ready to fight despite time running out. When the final bell sounded, the fans in attendance gave the buzzer a standing ovation. FanSided scorecard: 10-9, Lawrence (49-46)
Official Result: Justin Lawrence def. Mark Dickman via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)
Be sure to stay tuned to FanSided.com throughout the weekend for the latest news and results from around the MMA world, along with live blow-by-blow coverage of RFA 17 on Friday night.