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March 2, 2017

Roots of Fight: Downeast Maine

The Maine Event Podcast, and the Story of its Founders
Travis Lizotte:

As anyone who has spent a winter in Maine can attest to the months between December and March can be a deep dark time in the lives of many. Short days, long frigid nights, waist high snow and sub zero temperatures can be enough to bring the highest of spirits crashing down to earth. It takes a strong, resilient attitude for someone to overcome the darkest depths of a harsh New England winter and find a glimmer of hope that better days are most definitely ahead. Sometimes it’s the holidays and the company of friends and family that shine that glimmer of light you so definitely desire, sometimes it’s that moment when you start to realize the days are getting longer and warmer weather is on its way and maybe it’s throwing back an adult beverage and watching a fight with some of your greatest friends. In some cases it’s not just a fight either, it’s an absolute all out war. And at the end of the night you find yourself celebrating with friends new and old. The scenario was just so in January of 2016 when two born and bred Mainers found themselves at Seasons Restaurant in Bangor, Maine both with a separate group of friends but each with a common vision and both with a passion for combat sports. The occasion; UFC 195 Carlos Condit v. Robbie Lawler for Robbie’s Welterweight Championship Belt, the fight was an absolute war with Lawler retaining his title in a razor thin split that left the MMA world buzzing. For the two boys from Maine, it was just what they needed, that glimmer of light I spoke of, two guys who grew up separated by a fifty minute car ride down route 1A in Downeast, Maine realized that they were a whole lot closer than they could ever imagine.

On one stool, the Bangor Maine native, 1998 Graduate of Bangor High School; Ryan Jarrell. Ryan, who was a basketball player by trade, grew up the son of an accomplished wrestler which gained him interest in combat sports at a young age. Ryan remembers watching the UFC with his father in its early days “religiously” thus developing a love for Mixed Martial Arts. Ryan reached the pinnacle of his own athletic achievements in 2000 when he helped lead the Eastern Maine Technical College Basketball team to the Maine Small College Conference Championship, advancing to the National Tournament in Salinas, Kansas. Ryan went on to further his education at the University of Maine at Orono, where he became somewhat of a “Van Wilder” of sorts before graduating in 2008 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in English. Just one month after his graduation, when many of this other classmates were accepting jobs in their careers of choice, Ryan knew that his heart was elsewhere and moved to Los Angeles to, stop me if you’ve heard this before, pursue his dream of being on the silver screen.

Ryan found out, as most aspiring actors do that there are far more aspiring actors than there are roles to fill. Ryan did not let the cut throat ways of Hollywood deter him however, working other odd jobs to make ends meet including running a valet service at a high end Malibu eatery. In 2010 Ryan’s perseverance paid off when he was cast as a featured extra in the Oscar winning film “Inception” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which helped him earn his voutures with the Screen Actors Guild. Ryan also landed a job with the production company 1iota and worked as an audience coordinator for shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, Carson Daly, America’s Best Dance Crew and numerous other MTV productions. Personally, Ryan’s time in Hollywood was highlighted by his attendance at the 2009 Oscars as well as the 2009 Celebrity Madden tournament, where the lifelong sports fan had the chance to meet NFL Hall of Famers including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Barry Sanders. Ryan’s Hollywood career was forced to be put on hold in 2013 when his best friend, Mac Cook, also a Bangor native, who had joined Ryan in California passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Overcome with the grief of losing his best friend Ryan packed up his belongings and headed back home to Bangor so that he could be amongst this family and friends. Although the move home was intended to be brief, one thing lead to another and his stay became somewhat extended. This extended stay lead to him being in Bangor with a group of friends from the Bangor based MMA gym; Team Irish, on this January night to watch UFC 195.

On the other stool, within ear shot of the group from Team Irish, sat Trenton, Maine native and 2007 graduate of Ellsworth High School; Bryan Stackpole. Bryan, like Ryan, developed his love for combat sports at a young age and much of the credit can also be bestowed upon his father for that interest. Bryan recalls watching the WWF with his father in the mid to late 90’s and carries with him the passion for sports entertainment to this day. Bryan and a buddy even had a radio show which aired for two years called “No Holds Barred” which focused on Professional Wrestling. Bryan even remembers laughing at his friends when they suggested the UFC to him back in the early days of the promotion, but after a short time Bryan started to fall in love with the parallels between the two sports. Soon the once skeptical WWF fan was tuning in to the UFC on a somewhat “obsessive” level. Also drawing comparison to the aforementioned Jarrell, Stackpole was a staple in the gym during the High School Basketball season. However, it was not on the court where Bryan had his impact, it was on the air waves, broadcasting play-by-play of High School Basket ball his senior year before enrolling at the University of Maine to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism.

While enrolled at UMaine Bryan ran the school’s radio station (WMEB) and provided oversight to the station’s Sports Department and the Live Broadcasting Schedule. While running the School’s radio station Bryan was approached by Blueberry Broadcasting and given the opportunity to broadcast UMaine sports on a professional level. After graduation Bryan served as the Executive Producer and Co-host of the “Downtown with Rich Kimball” radio show in Bangor for four and a half years until accepting his current position of Assistant Brand Manager of 92.9 The Ticket, and Co-host of the “Morning Pitch” radio show. In addition to his position at The Ticket, Bryan is the voice of U. Maine Blackbear’s Basketball on ESPN3 (both Men’s and Women’s) as well as Softball on the Radio for Learfeild Sports. Bryan also works in Marketing part-time for Season’s restaurant in Bangor, which lead to him being in attendance January 2nd, 2016 to watch UFC 195 when he struck up a conversation with his fellow U. Maine alumni Ryan Jarrell.

Jarrell told Stackpole of his journey west, to pursue his acting career and expressed a deep interest in the Broadcasting career Bryan had made for himself, especially given the fact that he too shared a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Ryan could tell from talking with Bryan about the fights, that the two shared similar love for combat sports. When it comes to MMA you can tell when someone knows what they are talking about, there is that different language that MMA fans share, where one fan can almost instantly identify another just based on their fight vocabulary and knowledge. This was the glimmer of light Jarrell was looking for, someone with a similar passion and the knowledge to help make his ideas and dreams a reality. At this point the two Maine boys realized they shared a lot more than just their Downeast roots, they shared a long time passion for Combat Sports and Mixed Martial Arts and the ambition to convey that passion to New England MMA fans. On a night where Robbie Lawler retained his Welterweight crown against Carlos Condit, in a five round split decision for the ages, a partnership for the ages would be born.

In the following weeks Ryan and Bryan discussed the logistics of an MMA podcast covering both local and national promotions. The guys agreed to keep the show on more of a personal level with the fighters, focusing on their stories, rather than the “X’s and O’s” or breaking down fights. Just six short months later on June 19th 2016, at Season’s Restaurant in downtown Bangor, Maine, the first episode of “The Maine Event” podcast would be produced. In the very building where both men met for the first time on that January night the two had found a home for their production. “The Maine Event” would become a weekly show highlighted by appearances from fighters from all over the United States and from the smallest regional promotions to the UFC, World Series of Fighting and Bellator. Weekly guests typically include fighters with upcoming bouts or fighters who are coming off of recent performances in the cage. Bryan Stackpole and Ryan Jarrell have now produced over 40 shows, staying true to their goal of developing the fighter’s stories and their lives inside and outside of the cage. Some of the biggest names in the MMA game have made appearances on the show in its brief but successful history including but not limited to; Joanna Jedyzercyk, Johnny Hendricks, and Maine natives; Tim Boetsch and Marcus Davis, but some of their favorite moments on air came with the likes of local fighters including; Nick Gulliver, Victor Irwin and Aaron Lacey.

The shows early success has lead to many other opportunities for the “Maine Event” team including their invitation by New England Fights (NEF) President Matt Peterson, to become the on air voices of the promotions broadcasts on, a position the boys have anchored for the promotion’s last three events. When I asked Jarrell how the discussion came about for the “Maine Event” guys to earn this honor he told me that Matt Peterson had listened to their podcasts and was impressed with their personalities and professionalism, enough so to entrust the guys with the NEF broadcasts. The Maine Event team of Ryan and Bryan is also joined by their friend and trusted photographer Ed Troscianiec (of Combat Sports Photo) who helps the team offer a photographic play by play of the live action in the NEF cage. Throughout their tenure in the New England MMA scene the Maine Event has been able to amass a backing of sponsors including Bangor, Maine based sports bar “The Sports Arena,” Sea Dog Brewing Company also of Bangor, New England Fights promotion, as well as the previously mentioned Season’s Restaurant which houses the recording studio in which the podcast is broadcast from.

As the Maine Event teams knows all too well, the New England MMA community is a tight knit fraternity with a vastly expanding fan base. In efforts to expand their enterprise, the Maine Event is constantly networking with other entities of the MMA world in attempts to establish a roster of knowledgeable and credible partners across the New England Sports media outlets. Enter,, when I (Travis “Full Contact Writer” Lizotte) joined the Western Mass team in late 2016 I was assured of a part time gig writing previews and live reviews of the CES promotion for the web site. After my first few articles were published, I started receiving a vast amount of interest from other media outlets, promotions and fighters who enjoyed my work and looked to work together in the future. At first, my humble nature took over and I thought little about the feedback I was receiving. However, I discussed with my wife when I first accepted the position to write for Western Mass MMA that I would take this opportunity as far as it would possibly let me. Soon, what once seemed like just a dream started to feel like more of a reality to me; I always enjoyed going to local fights in New England and had attended upwards of 30 live shows before joining the Western Mass MMA team, but I found a passion with connecting with the fighters and establishing friendships with the athletes beyond just their performances in the cage.

The more I wrote about fighters and promotions the more my passion for doing so grew. With the wealth of experience and knowledge provided by Western Mass MMA founder Travis Sinclair and my new found passion for covering everything New England MMA, we both vowed that 2017 would be the biggest year in the websites history. Our goal is to continue to expand on our featured original stories while still providing live event reviews and fighter news to our fight fans. In an attempt to build our fan base, as well as our resources here at Western Mass MMA, we began to reach out and network with other outlets who share our passion for the sport. On February the Western Mass MMA crew braved a fierce Maine Blizzard and traveled to Lewiston, Maine for NEF 27, with Travis Sinclair and Ed “Warchild” Warchol covering the fight for the Western Mass fans that night, I took it upon myself to do a little work of my own. In the days leading up to the fight I had been in touch with Ryan Jarrell from “The Maine Event” and had expressed my interest in working together, that night, although busy with a live broadcast, Ryan and Bryan took a second to say “hello” and allowed me to put some faces with some names, so to speak.

I got in touch with Ryan as soon as I woke up the following day, to start discussing ways in which we could help each other out. Ryan and Bryan kicked off the partnership by giving Western Mass their fondest endorsements on their 43rd episode of the Maine Event highlighting their interest in working with us in the future. I have also been asked personally to be a regular guest on the podcast in effort to expand their expertise into the southern New England states and beyond. Together we intend to bring intuitive insight to MMA fans across the region and valuable information regarding largest promotions in New England. The Maine Event’s strong relationship with the NEF promotion and my expertise with the CES promotion combined with the already strong following of both and The Maine Event will look to become the go to destinations for New England Fight fans. Look for our website to once again add more material for our fans as well as offering a link to listen to the Maine Event podcasts. Also, make sure to tune in to the podcast weekly to receive updates of our growing partnership as well as in-depth fighter interviews and stories, and maybe even hear our voices on their air waves. Our crew here at Western Mass MMA would like to offer our sincerest endorsement to the Maine Event podcast; we look forward to growing with our new found support from the Maine Event, in order to continue providing the most in-depth coverage of all that is; New England MMA!