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August 9, 2017

CES MMA 45: Gooch vs. Coutinho

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CES 45: Gooch v. Coutinho

Travis Lizotte

                The atmosphere will be electric at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island Friday night as Heavyweights get set to headline a star studded card top to bottom, at CES 45: Gooch vs. Coutinho. Gooch who won the CES Heavyweight Crown when he knocked out fan favorite Greg Rebello in the third round of their title fight at CES 37, will be making his first defense of his belt as he welcomes Juliano Coutinho back to the CES cage. Both fighters will be looking to bounce back off losses in the World Series of Fighting as they return to Rhode Island, and the CES cage, with the ultimate bragging rights on the line; the CES Heavyweight Title. August 11th will mark the first time Heavyweights have headlined a CES card since Josh Hendricks submitted Josh Diekmann in the first round of their fight at CES 9: Extreme Measures in March of 2012. In the Co-Main event another CES belt will be on the line, perhaps the most highly touted title in the promotions history; the CES Featherweight Belt will reach interim status as current Champion Matt Bessette heals from a hand injury suffered in his fight on Dana White’s Contenders Series, and gives way to Pedro Gonzalez vs. Saul Almeida who will do battle for the 145 pound Crown.  In what should be a tremendous display of grappling and Jiu Jitsu Gonzalez and Almeida will battle it out for the right to fight Bessette upon his return and for the title of Interim Featherweight Champion, an honor both men have worked their entire careers to achieve. In what should also be considered the Co-Main event on the card, two of New England’s top Lightweights will meet in a matchup that has been a long time in the making on the local scene; Nate Andrews is widely regarded as the top Lightweight in all of New England but he will have his hands full when he squares off with perhaps the longest tenured ranked Lightweight in New England history; Bruce Boyintgon. Andrews is going to have to find a way to solve the flashy stand up game of Boyintgon if he hopes to survive the Lightweight veteran and further his case for a shot in the UFC.

                Also appearing on the Main Card that can be seen live on AXS TV; two of the most promising prospects in the promotion will look to keep their perfect 4-0 records clean as Bantamweight Kris Moutinho and Flyweight Richie Santiago both look for their fifth wins while remaining undefeated. The Dynamic Duo from BST MMA; Moutinho and Santiago will face off with Brendan Seyler and Miguel Restrepo respectively as they both look to further their climb up their respective divisions. Rounding out the Nationally Televised Main Card; surging Cranston, Rhode Island native Gary Balletto Jr. will attempt to run his winning streak to four fights when he draws one of the most highly anticipated Welterweight talents in New England; Team Link Hooksett’s, Nick Alley, who hopes to bounce back quickly after suffering his first career loss at Bellator 178 to Kastriot Xhema.

                The undercard kicks off in the Heavyweight Division as Veteran Eric “Lucky Strikes” Bedard steps up on short notice for an injured Jose Campos as he takes on Marquis Allen who looks to make good on back to back wins in the CES cage to kick off his Professional career.  Also, two time regional Amateur Champion John Douma will take to the CES cage for the second time in his career when he makes his Pro Debut against the hungry Ohio Native Jason Rine. Rising undefeated Featherweight Dylan Lockard returns to Twin River and welcomes back New York’s Ahsan Abdullah. The undercard culminates in the Lightweight Division when veterans Andrew Osborne and Leon Davis have a score to settle once the bell rings on their preliminary bout. CES 45 promises to be a “can’t miss” fight card from the promotion’s home at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Doors Open at 6 pm with the opening bell sounding at 7 pm. The main Card which will air live on AXS TV is scheduled to get underway at 9 pm. For tickets visit or the Twin River Casino box office.

Undercard: Non Televised

Eric Bedard (6-7) v. Marquis Allen (1-0)


Eric Bedard

Affiliation: Tri-Force

Record: 6-7 (4 wins by Knockout, 2 wins by Submission)

Summary: Bedard makes his 8th appearance in the CES cage Friday night when he steps in on short notice to fight Marquis Allen. Eric is looking to bounce back from three straight losses including a loss to Parker Porter in the Bellator cage over two years ago. However once the cage door locks; “Lucky Strikes” possesses the ability to shut the lights out on anyone.   

Last fight: First round Submission Leglock loss to Tyler King at CES 35: Mass Invasion.

Marquis Allen


Record: 1-0 (1 win by Knockout)

Summary:  Allen will be making his long awaited return to the CES cage following a first round Knockout of Dan Randall in his pro debut over a year ago. Allen was initially scheduled to face Jose Campos in his pro debut but medical issues kept Campos from fighting. Allen will now have his hands full with the 13 fight Heavyweight veteran Eric Bedard, in a big step up in competition.

Last fight: First round Knockout of Dan Randall at CES 36: Andrews s. Muro.

Breakdown: Marquis would love to repeat his last CES performance and log another first round knockout. But standing across the cage will be the veteran Bedard who has stood and traded strikes with the best Heavyweights in New England time and again. This fight should be a slugfest, and fans should arrive early as Heavyweights promise to kick this show off with a BANG!

John Douma (Pro Debut) vs. Jason Rine (0-2)


John Douma

Affiliation: Tri-Force

Record: Debut (5-2 Amateur)

Summary: Douma put an emphatic cap on his Amateur career last time out when he took Combat Zone Featherweight Champion Brendan Marotte to the judges’ scorecards and captured his second Amateur title (Cage Titans) in as many fights. Douma’s quest for Professional gold will begin August 11th as he enters the CES cage for the second time.

Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Brendan Marotte for the Combat Zone Featherweight title at Combat Zone 61: Resurrection.  

Jason Rine

Affiliation: Lashley Training Center

Record: 0-2 (4-2 Amateur)

Summary: Rine is certainly hoping for a different result this time, after the his first trip to the CES cage lasted just ten seconds when he fell victim to a perfectly timed headkick by Kris Moutinho. The Ohio native Rine, is looking to show the CES fans that his last fight will not define him as a fighter as he writes the next chapter in his career.  

Last fight: First round Knockout loss to Kris Moutinho at CES 41: Bessette vs. Croom.

Breakdown: Douma has shown ever improving high class wrestling ability on his tear through the Amateur ranks, making the two time champion one of the more highly anticipated Amateurs to turn Pro in New England this calendar year. Douma draws Jason Rine who is 0-2 in two professional bouts, and he is hungry to wash the taste of two straight defeats out of his mouth as he welcomes the highly regarded Douma to the professional ranks.
Dylan Lockard (3-0) v. Ahsan Abdullah (7-8)
Dylan Lockard
Affiliation: Sityodtong Boston
Record: 3-0 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)
Summary: Dylan’s three straight wins (seven fight win streak overall) to open up his Professional career have definitely put him on the radar with some of the fastest rising Featherweights in the Northeast. With a strong wrestling pedigree and a Judo game honed under Rick Hawn, Lockard could solidify his case for New England’s next rising star if he can down the veteran of 15 professional fights in Ahsan Abdullah.
Last fight: First round Knockout of Brandon Odom at Combat Zone 62: Legendary.
Ahsan Abdullah
Affiliation: Bombsquad 
Record: 7-8 (2 Knockouts, 4 Submissions)
Summary: New York’s Abdullah will be making his fourth appearance for the promotion and his first since being submitted in the first round by Rob Font at CES 21 in 2014. Abdullah has thrown down with some big names from New England in his 15 fight career including Rob Font, Ray Wood and Joe Pingatore earning him this matchup with the upstart Lockard.  
Last fight: Second round Knockout loss to Francisco Isata at Stellar Fights 34.
Breakdown: Lockard will be facing the toughest task of his career in Abdullah, in his attempt to further his status as a top Featherweight. Abdullah has had his share of scraps with tough guys in the past on his way to seven pro wins. Abdullah would probably prefer to keep the fight on the feet to try and avoid Lockard’s superior grappling game and crafty submissions.

Leon “Dynamite” Davis (10-3) v. Andrew “Ozzy” Osborne (7-10-1)


Leon Davis

Affiliation: Fighting Arts Academy

Record: 10-3 (3 Submissions, 1 KO)

Summary: Stepping back into the CES cage, winner of his last 4 bouts, Leon Davis has fought twice since his last promotional appearance, in those two fights for AMMO fights, he won, and successfully defended his Welterweight title. For the natural Lightweight Davis, a return to CES will mean a step up in competition as he draws North Carolina’s Andrew Osborne in his first fight back. 

Last fight: First round Submission Choke of Jay Ellis at Ammo 2: Dawn of War.

Andrew Osborne

Affiliation: Angel’s Gym 

Record: 7-10-1 (2 Knockouts)

Summary: Osborne is coming off one of the bigger upsets the CES promotion has seen this calendar year when he held off the upstart Connor Barry to win a unanimous decision at CES 43: Mass Invasion II. Osborne would earn back to back wins for the first time since 2012, if he can stage his second straight upset in the CES cage and disrupt Leon Davis’ current four fight winning streak.

Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Connor Barry at CES 43: Mass Invasion II.

Breakdown: Former CES Lightweight turned AMMO Welterweight Champion, Leon Davis makes his return to the CES cage as the favorite against Fayetteville, North Carolina’s Andrew Osborne, who’s 18 fight Pro career has spanned 6 years and includes fights against some of the top Lightweights on the Eastern seaboard, including a decision victory over Tommy Macellino and a hard fought battle with Ryan LaFlare that ultimately resulted in a third round submission loss. Leon Davis ranks as one of the tougher opponents in Osborne’s career, as he looks to impose his will on Osborne and avoid being the second straight upset victory for Osborne in the CES cage (Barry).

Main Card: Televised Live on AXS TV.

Richie Santiago (4-0) v. Miguel “Magic City Mauler” Restrepo (4-3-1)


Richie Santiago

Affiliation: BST MMA

Record: 4-0 (4 Submissions)

Summary: Richie faced some adversity in his last fight, likely losing the first round of his professional career to Chad Kelly at CES 42, but Richie bounced back in round 2 to submit Kelly, furthering his undefeated record as a Bantamweight pro to 4-0. Richie will be returning to the Flyweight division, a division he once held an Amateur title in with Cage Titans, in hopes to remain undefeated and secure his spot in the CES Flyweight title picture.

Last fight: Second round Submission choke of Chad Kelly at CES 42: Curtis vs. Santiago.

Miguel Restrepo

Affiliation: MMA Masters

Record: 4-3-1 (2 wins by Knockout)

Summary: Restrepo returns to the CES cage for the second time, with the same goal he had the first time he made the trip; upset the promotion’s next up and coming star. Miguel fell victim to the undefeated Carlos Candelario, in his first attempt at shocking the CES fans but hopes for a different outcome against the also undefeated and surging Richie Santiago. 

Last fight: Second round Submission loss to Carlos Candelario at CES 41: Bessette vs. Croom.

Breakdown: Santiago has burst on to the CES scene with “guns-a-blazing” finishing all four of his professional bouts in the CES cage with submission stoppages inside the first two rounds. Floridian Restrepo will be the most experienced opponent of Santiago’s career, and hopes to hand the undefeated Santiago the first loss of his career, something he failed to accomplish in his CES debut against Carlos Candelario. Santiago has his eyes set on emphatically putting a stop to Restrepo and holding up his end of the bargain as he and BST MMA teammate Kris Moutinho attempt to remain undefeated in their pro careers. 

Kris Moutinho (4-0) v. Branden “Soku” Seyler (6-5-1)


Kris Moutinho

Affiliation: BST MMA 

Record: 4-0 (1 Knockout)

Summary: Kris Moutinho furthered his campaign of New England’s fastest rising Bantamweight prospect last time out, as he picked apart veteran Lloyd Reyes on the feet on his way to a dominant decision victory, winning all three rounds on my scorecard. Kris looks to turn up the level of competition once again when he faces off against a former Bellator fighter in Branden Seyler, on his quest to stay undefeated as a pro. 

Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Lloyd Reyes at CES 42: Curtis vs. Santiago.

Branden Seyler

Affiliation: Next Generation

Record: 6-5-1 (4 Submissions, 1 Knockout)

Summary: Making his second appearance for the Promotion, Seyler will once again step in against one of the fastest rising stars on the roster in Moutinho after falling to Kody Nordby in his promotional debut. Looking to avoid three straight losses Seyler will likely try and get this fight to the ground in search of what would be the fifth submission victory of his career. 

Last fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Jarrell Hodge at Bayfront Brawl 2.

Breakdown: Moutinho, the other undefeated rising star from BST MMA on the CES 45 fight card will also attempt to run his record to 5-0 as New Englands fastest rising Bantamweight star faces off with his strongest opposition thus far in Branden Seyler. Moutinho has shown great diversity in his four pro wins but will likely try to keep this fight standing against North Carolina’s Seyler who is the owner of six pro wins and four coming by submission. Moutinho has polished an already impressive standup game since the last time we saw him in the CES cage, earning himself an impressive victory in his first Muay Thai contest earlier this summer. The undefeated BST Product will need his full complement of skills in order to get his hand raised against the veteran of 12 pro fights and former Bellator competitor in Seyler.

Gary “Batman” Balletto Jr. (3-1) v. Nick “JC” Alley (3-1)


Gary Balletto Jr.

Affiliation: Tri-Force

Record: 3-1 (2 Submissions, 1 Knockout)

Summary: Gary Balletto will be looking for a signature win to add to his resume as the Cranston native takes on his most seasoned opponent to date, with his previous four opponents holding a combined 0-6 record as pros. Alley will undoubtedly be Balletto’s toughest test in the CES cage, but for Balletto he has no problem showing that he belongs.  

Last fight: First round Submission of Christopher Rico Torres at CES 42: Curtis vs. Santiago.

Nick Alley

Affiliation: Team Link Hooksett 

Record: 3-1(2 Submissions, 1 Knockout)

Summary: Alley is coming off the first hiccup of his pro career, when he got caught with strikes in the first round of his Bellator Debut with Kastriot Xhema. But for the hardnosed Alley;” if he is not winning he is learning.” Nick is looking to show that he is still one of the most promising Welterweight prospects in the region, when he throws down with Balletto in what will be Nick’s long awaited CES debut. 

Last fight: First round TKO loss to Kastriot Xhema at Bellator 178 Straus vs. Pitbull 4.

Breakdown: Both fighters enter this contest with identical 3-1 records with their three wins coming in equally identical fashion with two submissions and one knockout to their credit. Both men also come from two of the top MMA schools in the Northeast; Tri-Force (Balletto) and Team Link Hooksett (Alley). Alley will likely have the advantage if the fight hits the ground, while Balletto looks to have a slight advantage in the standup game.  Alley enters the fight with a more established list of opponents on his record, but what Balletto lacks in experience his makes up for in pedigree as the son of former Boxing standout Gary “Tiger” Balletto. This is without a doubt my early favorite for “Fight of the Night” honors.    

Nate “The Snake” Andrews (10-1) v. Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington (14-10)


Nate Andrews

Affiliation: New England Combat

Record: 10-1 (5 Submissions, 5 Knockouts)

Summary: Andrews will once again look to catch the attention of the UFC brass when he steps in with World Series of Fighting veteran and fixture atop the New England Lightweight ranks; Bruce Boyington. Andrews seems happy to dispatch all challengers in his attempt to strike a deal with the UFC, Boyington being Nate’s most well known and seasoned opponent to date. Andrews, who is thought to be the region’s top Lightweight, has used a well rounded approach to martial arts to rack up 10 professional wins against just one defeat with nine wins coming inside the CES cage. The matchup with Boyington could garner the attention Andrews needs to launch himself on to the national stage, if he can translate the matchup into his 10th career CES win.

Last fight: Third round Submission Choke of George Sheppard at CES 40: Andrews vs. Sheppard.

Bruce Boyington

Affiliation: Young’s MMA/ Boyington’s TKD 

Record: 14-10 (2 Submissions, 7 Knockouts)

Summary: For years the New England Lightweight Division was owned by Bruce Boyington, with wins against the Likes of Devin Powell, Jesse Erickson and Jon Lemke to his credit, Boyington added a win against Saul Almeida as a Featherweight in the World Series of Fighting to further his legacy in New England MMA. Boyington took a loss his last time out for WSOF, to quite possibly the fastest rising Featherweight nationwide in Andre Harrison (16-0), who is currently the promotion’s Featherweight Champion. Boyington returns to the regional circuit for the first time in over a year, and makes his CES debut, where he hopes to continue his success amongst the top Lightweights in New England when he faces Andrews, who is widely considered the best Lightweight of them all. 

Last fight: First round Submission loss to Andre Harrison at WSOF 34: Gaethje vs. Firmino.

Breakdown: For Nate ”The Snake” Andrews, his path to the UFC will meet its biggest obstacle to date Friday night when he is locked across the cage from New England MMA Legend Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington.  At 10-1, Andrews seems destined to debut in the Octagon in the not so distant future, as a ten fight CES veteran looks to add the final piece to his regional resume with a signature win against the former NEF Lightweight Champion turned World Series of Fighting Mainstay Boyington. The 38 year old Boyington warns; that if Andrews thinks  he is just a stepping stone on his quest to crack the UFC roster, the Providence Native Andrews will be “sadly mistaken.” Boyington has some of the most stylish striking in all of New England and Andrews will likely have to get the fight to the ground if he hopes to find success against the Bangor, Maine native.

Saul “The Spider” Almeida (19-8) v. Pedro “The Beast” Gonzalez (12-5)

Interim Featherweight Title

Saul Almeida

Affiliation: Sityodtong Boston 

Record: 19-8 (5 Submissions, 13 Decision wins)

Summary: Saul will be coming off a perfect display of his game, as he out grappled and grinded Josh LaBerge for nearly three rounds before sinking in a Rear Naked Choke in the final ten seconds of the fight to gain the stoppage. As always Saul’s lengthy frame for the 145 pound division will play a major factor in a tough stylistic matchup with Pedro Gonzalez for the interim Featherweight Title. Saul is at his best when he can use his grinding grappling techniques to set up his submission game, but that technique will play right into the game plan of Pedro who will be more than willing to grapple and play Jiu jitsu with Almeida. Saul could be effective using his long limbs and technical Thai Clinch to grind Gonzalez on the feet in efforts to avoid Pedro’s takedowns and arsenal of submissions.

Last fight: Third round Submission choke of Josh LaBerge at CES 42: Curtis vs. Santiago.

Pedro Gonzalez

Affiliation: Redline 

Record: 12-5 (11 Submissions)

Summary: Gonzalez has shown time and again that he has the distinct ability to drag his opponent into deep water and unleash one of the most suffocating submission games in the region, all the while leading to 11 career wins by submission, and a current five fight winning streak. Coming off his biggest win to date against Jacare Dias at CES 43: Mass Invasion via second round choke, Gonzalez will definitely have his hands full with the talented Almeida, who poses the biggest threat of Pedro’s career. Although height and reach advantages go to Almeida, when it comes to Strength and Jiu Jitsu submission fighting, Gonzalez has to like his chances against the Framingham resident Almeida. Pedro may be the one fighter on the roster that matches up best with Saul, as he attempts to capture the CES Featherweight Belt.  

Last fight: Second round Submission choke of Bruno Dias at CES 43: Mass Invasion II.

Breakdown: Stylistically this may be the closest matchup on the CES 45 card when two highly accomplished Submission Specialists lock horns in what will likely be a Grappling war for the ages with the interim CES Featherweight Title on the line. The 28 year old Saul Almeida has been in some grappling wars over his 27 fight Professional career, resulting in five career submission victories and numerous three round wars.  But the Brazilian Almeida may never have faced a more polished pure grappler than Pedro Gonzalez. Gonzalez has racked up 12 wins as a professional, 11 of them by submission against just five defeats making him one of the most feared submission artists in New England. Gonzalez has shown little trouble forcing the fight to the mat in the past and will undoubtedly look to do just that against Almeida. Almeida will have to use his grappling experience to avoid being taken down by Gonzalez so that he can use his reach and technical striking to pick Gonzalez apart on the feet. Although known mostly for his grappling technique, Almeida possesses high class striking techniques forged under the tutelage of Mark DellaGrotte at Sityodtong Boston. Given the stylistic matchup in this fight, I see this fight going well into the Championship rounds if not to the judges’ score cards.  

Ashley “Gio” Gooch (Champion 10-5) v. Juliano “Banana” Coutinho (Challenger 7-3)

Heavyweight Title
Ashley Gooch
Affiliation: MMA Lab
Record: 10-5 (7 Knockouts, 2 Submissions)
Summary: The 42 year old Ashley Gooch has gained notoriety as a finisher; in his ten career victories Gooch has shut his opponent’s lights out nine times. Perhaps the most noteworthy of those finishes is his upset knockout of Providence’s Greg Rebello at CES 37: Summer Gold to capture the CES Heavyweight title and silence the crowd at Twin River Casino. Coming off a first round knockout defeat in his World Series of Fighting debut to former UFC Heavyweight Shawn Jordan, Gooch will return to the CES cage to defend his Heavyweight Crown Friday night against Juliano Coutinho as he searches for his 8th career knockout and first successful title defense.  
Last fight: First round Knockout loss to Shawn Jordan at WSOF 33: Branch vs. Magalhaes.
Juliano Coutinho
Affiliation: Juniko
Record: 7-3(3 Knockouts, 2 Submissions)
Summary: It is no secret that Coutinho has faced some challenges over his last three bouts, including two knockout losses for the World Series of Fighting and a razor thin Split Decision to Chaz Morgan at CES 33: Soukhamthath vs.Nordby. Coutinho will be looking to return to the form that saw him victorious in five of his first six professional bouts. He will need to do just that if he hopes to dethrone the current CES Heavyweight Champion; Gooch, as the competition continues to be tough for the Brazilian native. Coutinho intends to put on a career defining performance in his effort to capture CES Heavyweight Gold.
Last fight: Second round TKO loss to Justin Willis at WSOF 31: Ivanov vs. Copeland.
Breakdown: The hype is high anytime two talented Heavyweights are locked into the cage together, put a belt on the line and it can be something fight fans dream of. For the first time in over a year in the CES cage the Heavyweight Title will be on the line Friday night between the Heavy Handed Champion Ashley Gooch who has Knockout power in both hands and looks to finish fights each time he steps in will put his belt on the line against Challenger Juliano Coutinho who also possesses the ability to finish fights both standing or on the ground. Gooch will be looking to end the fight early and leave no doubt that he is New England’s baddest Heavyweight by successfully defending his title. Coutinho’s chin will undoubtedly be tested, but if the Brazilian Ju Jitsu Black Belt can avoid heavy strikes and work this fight into later rounds his odds of upsetting the current champ grow increasingly better. Coutinho will need to work this fight to the mat or to the clinch in effort to neutralize the powerful strikes of Gooch and swing the fight to his favor. But as many of us know all too well, when two powerful Heavyweights collide, game plans and strategy can go completely out the window once fists start to fly. This fight promises to live up to the billing and give the CES fans just what they should be looking for in a Main Event; Fireworks!
*Fight Card and bout lineup are subject to change.*