NEF 28 PRO CARD SHAPING UP TO BE A MUST-SEE EXTRAVAGANZA
NEF 28: INVINCIBLE is quickly becoming the talk of the New England fight scene. Recent bout announcements have had fans buying tickets hand over fist for the April 29th event, no pun intended. NEF executives recently informed us that they wanted to make the biggest pro card possible in the wake of their wildly successful 2017 opener back in February—a show which, despite a raging snowstorm, still brought thousands of fans out to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Below is a breakdown of some of the bouts that have already been announced for NEF 28.
Ryan Sanders vs Jon Lemke II
In a rematch of two of the top lightweights in New England, Sanders and Lemke lock-up once again in the main event of NEF 28, this time with the NEF lightweight championship belt on the line.
The ending of their late-2016 bout was mired in controversy. Sanders was awarded the decision when the fight went to the judges’ scorecards after Lemke suffered a deep cut on his head. Since then, both men have tasted victory as part of NEF’s four-man lightweight tournament to crown a new champion. (The belt was vacated when former title holder, Devin Powell, was signed to the UFC.) On the same night back in February, Sanders stopped John Ortolani instantly with a head kick KO and Lemke earned the stoppage over Jesse “The Viking” Erickson in a rematch of their Bellator 93 bout.
If the sequel for Sanders-Lemke is anything like their first encounter, fans will exit the Androscoggin Bank Colisee happy on April 29th.
Aaron Lacey vs Walter Smith-Cotito
The Northeast’s hottest featherweight prospect, Aaron Lacey, puts his perfect 4-0 record on the line against the dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and Team Link trained fighter, Walter Smith-Cotito in the co-main event of NEF 28.
Lacey has gone undefeated in his last seven bouts dating back to his amateur career and will have not lost in over three years by the time he steps into the cage on April 29th.
Walter Smith-Cotito, a Bellator veteran, is no stranger to tough challengers or Lacey’s stable, for that matter, the Young’s MMA fight team. Cotito almost went the distance with Lacey’s former teammate and current Bellator fighter, Ray “All Business” Wood, back in 2013. Cotito also submitted Lacey’s current teammate and the former NEF Lightweight Champion, Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington, in the first round when they fought back in 2013.
This matchup will certainly be Lacey’s toughest test to date and a good indicator of where both fighters go next in their respective careers.
Josh Harvey vs Eric Mendiola
It’s a well-known fact that no one in the Northeast is lining up to fight Josh “Hook-On” Harvey. The two-time state champion wrestler has become more infamous for his devastating boxing skills that melted both Ryan DiBartolomeo (to the point that he had to be carried out of the cage on a stretcher) and current NEF titleholder Caleb Hall, who Harvey needed just 36 seconds to knock unconscious. But make no mistake, Mendiola is no slouch. The 2-1 pro also amassed a staggering 15-fight amateur record and has no less than seven knockout victories to his name. Both guys love to stand and bang so chances are good that someone is going to sleep in this fight.
Elias Leland vs Andre Belcarris
Eli “Danger Mouse” Leland has gained a reputation for successfully implementing his brown belt level jiu-jiitsu under the bright lights and big NEF crowds, having secured all three of his professional victories by choke submissions. Belcarris, who will be making his pro debut, is another NEF newcomer on this card that carries an incredible 30+ amateur fight record into his pro debut. Belcarris had 11 knockout victories during his amateur career. No doubt the dynamic striker will do his best to keep it standing with Eli as he hunts for that crowd-pleasing, show-stopping knockout victory.
Matt Probin vs Rob Best
Matt Probin is a pugilist specialist from England that fans have been clamoring to see inside the NEF cage ever since he moved to Maine a little over two years ago. With a pro boxing record of 2-2 against stiff stand-up competition, Probin is undefeated in his favorite martial art, Muay Thai. Last year his interest in the sport sent him to Thailand, where he fought in the world famous Bangla Boxing Stadium. According to everyone who has seen him in action, Matt Probin is the next big thing in MMA and the most exciting fighter to come along in many, many years.
Rob Best brings an equally impressive and extensive combat sports pedigree to this bout, having amassed an amateur MMA record of 20-12. Both fighters have promised something special out of this double pro debut—and based on their histories, I think it’s fair that we can expect to see something spectacular unfold.
Ricky Dexter vs Keenan Raymond
It took Ricky Dexter less than five minutes to make a successful professional debut back in February when he stopped Matt Denning with a beautiful body shot that the audience could feel four rows back. That made it three-wins-in-a-row for Dexter dating back to his amateur career, in which he secured the NEF amateur welterweight title. It’s been over a year and a half since Dexter last lost—a streak the strength of which he will need when he goes up against Keenan Raymond. When Raymond shows up and fights and wins, he usually looks good doing it. Raymond’s size and power could be a factor in this fight. Two guys that love to stand and bang it out? Sign me up.