NEF 27 Resurgence; The Fallout!
New England Fights embarked on its 2017 slate Saturday night in the midst of sub-freezing temperatures and driving snow in Lewiston, Maine at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. It wasn’t a fit night out for man nor beast, but MMA fans packed into the arena and beasts took center stage as NEF rolled out a packed card including 18 total fights, six of which were professional bouts. Nearly 3000 people braved the winter storm, including two men who had a particular interest in how the night would unfold, Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington and Devin Powell both former NEF Lightweight Champions, were in the house to witness the semi-finals of a tournament that will crown the next NEF Lightweight title holder. Powell, who now fights for the UFC, not only had interest in the impending Lightweight tournament but was there to corner his Nostos MMA teammate Ross Dannar as he entered the cage for the second time securing his first MMA win. Boyington, who is now fighting under the World Series of Fighting banner, could be seen cage side for the evening, enjoying the action and shouting words of encouragement to his Young’s MMA teammates as they fought to an impressive 6-0 on the evening. A Light-Heavyweight Amateur Title fight between champion Ryan Glover (3-2) and challenger Victor Irwin (3-0) saw the belt change hands as Irwin was able to overpower the former champion earning himself a first round Rear Naked Choke Submission to capture the belt. In addition to the Lightweight headliners and Amateur Title Fight, NEF matchmakers stacked the card with up and coming prospects including the likes of; Josh Harvey, Elias Leland and Ras Hylton.
Matt Denning and Bruce Boyington
After winning all three of his Amateur fights, Ras Hylton (1-0) continues his dominance of the Heavyweight division, this time amongst the ranks of the pros. The 6 foot 6 inch Hylton, who carries with him an 83 inch reach, used his massive size and powerful Muay Thai to punch his way into the ranks of the pros after just three fights (all TKO victories) as an Amateur. In his first professional fight “The Ras Squatch” continued his winning ways in signature fashion landing powerful striking that inevitably crumbled the veteran Mike “The Moustache” Hansen (5-5). At the 1:50 mark of the very first round Hylton landed a body shot that collapsed Hansen to the canvas riving in pain, causing the referee to call a stop to the contest and putting the regional Heavyweight division on watch. Hylton is physically going to be one of the toughest match ups in New England at Heavyweight; his long powerful frame is one that will not likely be matched by many, if any of his opponents. Ras showed that he can, more than hold his own against veterans of the division with his win over Hansen and he is likely to draw another veteran and a top name in his next match.
Young’s MMA (Bangor, ME) continues to provide the local circuit with some of the top fighters and prospects in all of New England. Angela Young (2-2), Fred Lear (5-2), Alex Clark (4-2), Victor Irwin (3-0), Josh Harvey (3-0) and Ryan Sanders (13-8) all added wins to their already impressive records, in six fights the Young’s Army was undefeated with four stoppages, Victor Irwin’s first round submission of Ryan Glover (3-2) also brought the NEF Amateur Light-Heavyweight title belt back to the Bangor based gym. Young’s MMA had expected to send seven fighters into the NEF cage Saturday, however the New England weather caused Aaron Lacey’s (4-0) opponent Chris Jacobs’ (1-0) flight to be grounded on the day of weigh-ins causing Saturday’s match-up to be scrapped. Young’s continues to shower the New England MMA scene with some of its most highly sought after prospects year in and year out, and their fighters performances continue to illustrate the fact that Young’s camp is second to none in the region.
Sarah Ziehm (1-0); Central Maine BJJ and Devin Corson (1-0); Shatterproof, both score impressive wins in their MMA Debuts. Ziehm battled Nicole Burgess (0-2) in a back and forth war that would go down as one of the most evenly matched bouts of the night. Both fighters showed signs of brilliance in all facets of the fight which took place predominately on the ground and in the clinch. However, with just :22 seconds remaining in the fight Ziehm, who had taken Burgess’ back, sunk in a Rear-Naked Choke that caused Burgess to tap. The loss for Burgess comes in her second fight, both of which have been grueling battles ending in third round submission. For Ziehm, a victorious start to her MMA career against a very game opponent should give her great confidence going into her next fight. As for Devin Corson, he shared the cage with fellow first timer; Winston Cortez (0-1) from Tampa, Florida Saturday night. Corson used a combination of powerful wrestling and sheer strength to gain a unanimous decision victory over Cortez. On multiple occasions throughout the fight Devin was able to pick Winston up and slam him to the mat using an assortment of suplexes and tosses which brought the crowd to its feet. Although Devin’s win was impressive I would look for him to add some finishing ability to his submission game to enable him to submit his opponent once the fight gets to the ground.
Early favorite Ryan Sanders (13-8) advances to the finals of the four man Lightweight Title Tournament with a 15 second Headkick Knockout of John Ortolani (8-11). Jesse Erickson (9-6) falls victim to John Lemke (6-7) and an early stoppage? Ryan Sanders did exactly what he expected to do Saturday night, taking just 15 seconds to find the chin of John Ortolani in effort to advance to the tournament final. I spoke with Ryan prior to the fight and asked him for his prediction on the fight and he simply smiled and replied “Orto is gunna bleed tonight; I’m going to show you I’m the best fighter in New England!” Sanders proved to be a man of his word when he shut Ortolani’s lights out with a headkick that earned him a spot in the final against Jon Lemke. Lemke, who stamped his ticket to the finals a fight earlier with a TKO of Jesse Erickson, will look to avenge a loss to Sanders at NEF 26 when a cut did not allow Lemke to finish the fight resulting in a decision loss. Lemke’s victory over Erickson did not come without controversy however, after the fight looked to be stopped to earlier then it should have. Erickson looked to be getting the better of the stand up, when Lemke connected with a right hand that sent Jesse to the mat, Erickson immediately got his legs into position for a triangle attempt when the fight was stopped by the referee and the victory awarded to Lemke. After the fight Jesse voiced his displeasure with the stoppage but was quick to congratulate Lemke on the win. First round stoppage victories for Sanders and Lemke sets up a rematch between the two but this time the belt is on the line. The Rematch will take place at NEF 28 on April 29th at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where a next NEF Lightweight King will be crowned.