Yohan Lainesse, Lirim Rufati set to shine in CFFC 86 co-main event spotlight

Once again, Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) is keeping us entertained with back-to-back nights of fights.

The action will kick off Thursday night with a packed card, and in the co-main event slot of CFFC 86 it’ll be a border battle as Quebec’s undefeated prospect Yohan “White Lion” Lainesse (4-0) will meet Jersey-born Roufusport athlete Lirim “Lenny the Gorilla” Rufati (4-2) in a middleweight contest.

After a slick first round finish over Connor Dixon in his last outing, Lainesse, 28, will make his second appearance for CFFC on UFC Fight Pass, and with the fight being bumped up to the co-main event slot, the lights will shine a bit brighter.

Yohan Lainesse in action against Connor Dixon at CFFC 82. (Photo by Manny Fernandes/CFFC)

“I’m very excited about that,” Lainesse said in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I’m the kind of guy who’s at his best when the pressure is on, so I’m happy. I feel very aggressive it’s a chance for me to go to 5-0, and I feel like I’ll be able to show off my striking and get my fourth knockout.”

Despite gyms still being closed where Lainesse trains due to the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped him from being prepared for this huge opportunity.

“The gym is closed here in Montreal, but I’ve been able to train with my coach and a few training partners at my home gym,” Lainesse said.

“Thankfully, I have a great team around me, I’ve been working really hard and everything feels really good. The guys I train with are very strong and push me to my limit, so I’m ready for this fight.”

Rufati expects experience to play a factor

When it comes to preparation for Rufati, 32, he said the circumstances have been different, to say the least.

Gyms are open, and with loads of top level talent at his disposal, the Roufusport prospect feels like his experience and conditioning will give him an advantage.

“Obviously, I have to respect his power. He’s big and comes at you hard.” Rufati said in an interview with MMA Empire.

“Most guys like that come at you in the first round, then after that they slow down and get tired. He’s only been in the second or third round as a professional one time. No disrespect, but I looked up his opponents and he hasn’t really fought anybody good. They set him up with some scrubs that he can easily beat. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have talent and some power, but nobody has really been able to pressure him like I think I’ll be able to.”

Whether you question the level of opposition or not, Lainesse is undefeated, and at 4-0 he said his confidence is starting to build. 

“I’m not a trash-talker, so I don’t have much to say. I’m just looking forward to getting in the cage,” Lainesse said.

“I don’t think he knows about my kickboxing experience; maybe he just checked my Tapology page. I’ve fought tough guys and train with tough guys all the time. I’m confident that I’ll be good enough to grapple with Lenny, and I’m really excited for this fight.”

Lainesse eager to show well-roundedness

Lainesse said he sees some patterns in Rufati’s game that he can capitalize on, and with three first round finishes on his resume, he feels there’s an obvious advantage on the feet. However, the “White Lion” said he’s always eager to prove he’s a multi-dimensional fighter.

“All of his fights have looked the same: big right hand, or big punches and shoot for takedown,” Lainesse said.

“He definitely doesn’t want to be on the feet with me. I think he’d be surprised if I shot for a takedown, and there’s no doubt my ground game is good enough. I’m a well-rounded fighter, not just a striker.”

On paper, this fight appears to be a clash of styles. Rufati is known as a pressure fighter, and on Thursday night he thinks that pressure will simply be too much.

Lirim Rufati
Lirim Rufati celebrates his win over DeVon Mosley at Ring of Combat 71. (Credit: Ring of Combat)

“If I had to guess how this ends, I’d say second round TKO. He’ll be gassed by the second round and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I feel really good about it.” Rufati said

CFFC 86 is primed to be another excellent night of action and although the pandemic has limited the amount of fans in attendance, it won’t limit the amount of effort in the cage.

“At the end of the day, when the cage door locks it’s only me and him. Nobody can throw the punches for me,” Rufati said.

“It’s always nice to have fans there when you win the fight, but I’ll be able to see them all after, and I know they’ll be watching on Fight Pass.”

Lainesse’s Shoutouts

“Friends, family, ESS Fight Management, and my coaches and team at LV Jiu-Jitsu.” Follow Lainesse on social media: INSTAGRAM

Rufati’s Shoutouts

“Friends and family, everyone at Roufusport and my sponsors (Grupi Muzikor Melodia, Kabinet Depot, MMA Tee Co., Armour CBD, Section 247 Show, Harry’s Prohibition Bistro, My Fight Space).” Follow Rufati on social media: TWITTER, INSTAGRAM