Combate Americas today announced that red-hot, streaking bantamweight (135 pounds) stars John “Sexy Mexy” Castaneda (11-2) and Gustavo Lopez (6-1) will face off in the first world championship bout in league history at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. on Friday, October 14, live on beIN SPORTS En Español and UFC FIGHT PASS®.
The 24-year-old Castaneda of Mankato, Minn. and the 27-year-old Lopez of Las Vegas, Nev. via Yakima, Wash. will collide in the main event of the 10-bout “Combate Americas: Empire Rising” Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) extravaganza.
“We are thrilled to be producing our first world title fight in Combate Americas history at our debut event in the Empire State,” said Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren, who also produced the last live televised professional MMA event in New York State with UFC® 7 on September 8, 1995.
“John Castaneda and Gustavo Lopez put on some incredibly memorable and heroic performances during our ‘Road To The Championship’ fight series this year and last year,” continued McLaren, “so we are looking forward to have these two budding, young stars square off and to crowning our first champion.”
Each fighter earned his way to the title fight in “La Jaula,” or the Combate Americas cage, by going undefeated in three consecutive bouts during the “Road To The Championship” series that kicked off in September 2015 and concluded on May 9, 2016.
Castaneda, who has finished 8 of his 11 professional career victories, is riding a six-fight win streak dating back to May 16, 2015 when he submitted Pedro Velasco with a rear-naked choke in the first round (2:42) of battle.
Castaneda’s run in the “Road To The Championship” series began with a unanimous decision win over Justin Governale on September 17, 2015, and continued with a spectacular, arm-triangle choke submission of Federico Lopez in the closing moments of the third round (4:49) of action.
The aggressive-minded Castaneda cemented his spot in the world title fight by edging out a split decision over Gabriel Solorio on April 25.
In his last start, Castaneda stepped up for Combate Americas on just two weeks’ notice, replacing an injured Erick Sanchez, at the higher, featherweight limit of 145 pounds, against Angel Cruz on August 11, and scored a second round (2:25) TKO (punches) onCruz.
Fighting out of the famed Xtreme Couture camp in Las Vegas, Lopez, a protégé of former UFC® champion Miesha Tate and UFC bantamweight Bryan Caraway, will look for his sixth consecutive win in the cage, and his fourth under the Combate Americas promotional umbrella.
Similar to his opponent, Lopez is a determined finisher who has earned five of his six professional career wins by way of (T)KO or submission.
Lopez began his Combate Americas journey in the “Road To The Championship” series, defeating Mauricio Diaz by way of unanimous decision on September 17, 2015.
In his second Combate Americas appearance, Lopez submitted Joey Ruquet with an arm-triangle choke in the second round (4:06) of action, before sealing his fate in the title fight with Castaneda by scoring a devastating, second round (4:07) TKO on Saul Elizondo with a barrage of punches on the ground.