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April 4, 2013

Former Top-Ranked Fighter John "First Class" Raio Joins NEF Front Office As Athlete Development Manager

Lewiston, Maine (April 4, 2013) New England Fights! (NEF) is proud to announce that John "First Class" Raio, a former top-ranked amateur mixed martial artist, current professional fighter and Bellator veteran, has joined the NEF staff as the company's Manager of Athlete Development.

"John Raio has been a personal friend of mine for almost fifteen years," stated NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. "During that time, I have had the pleasure of watching him grow and mature as an athlete and as a human being. His journey has won him a wonderful family, a fulfilling career outside of fighting as a successful employee of the U.S. Postal Service, an undefeated run as an amateur mixed martial artist and the opportunity to compete as a professional at the pinnacle of the sport. Now, it will be an honor to work alongside him directly in NEF to continue to build mixed martial arts in Maine and the rest of New England."

"John has been NEF's most popular fighter since Matt and I launched the promotion," stated NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo. "Since the beginning he has been tireless in building his fan base and pushing NEF as a promotion while simultaneously working a full-time job and managing a family. In his new position he will be passing along his expertise and mentoring other NEF athletes on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while training, build their brand, sponsorship procurement, and how to essentially be effective representatives of and spokespeople for the sport of MMA. Additionally, John will be working closely with and complementing many other activities of the organization including community relations, event marketing and social media. John's success in the cage, disciplined lifestyle, remarkable ability to multitask, and wild popularity makes him highly qualified for this position."

“I am honored to join Matt Petersen and Nick DiSalvo at New England Fights as the Manager of Athlete Development,” stated Raio when reached for comment. “It has been an awesome experience fighting for NEF during six of my seven mixed martial arts contests. I am excited to continue working with the #1 MMA promotion in New England both inside and outside of the cage!”

Raio grew-up in Gardiner, Maine and won a high school state championship in wrestling at 125-pounds in 1995. He went on to wrestle in college for Plymouth State University and the University of Southern Maine. When the state of Maine legalized and regulated mixed martial arts in 2009, Raio, who now resides in Topsham, Maine, began training in the sport in earnest. He rattled off four wins in four amateur outings and earned a Top 10 ranking in the Northeast before turning professional in November 2012. Most recently, Raio made his debut for Bellator MMA where he dropped a hard-fought third-round stoppage to top prospect Vince Murdock.

Outside of the cage, John is a dedicated husband and father of two. He graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in Social Work.

New England Fights’ next event is scheduled for May 18. At the time of this writing, the fight card for May 18 in Lewiston consisted of ten professional and more than thirty amateur fights. The main event is scheduled to feature Maine MMA legend Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (21-9) battling Darrius Heyliger (4-1). The co-main event will see UFC veteran Henry Martinez (9-5) squaring off with Jamie Harrison (4-1) for the Maine State Lightweight Title. Also on the main card, Travis "The Showstopper" Bartlett (8-3) meets Randy "The Wolf" Smith (14-13-1) for the Maine State Heavyweight Title. Tickets start at just $25 and are on sale now at or by calling The Colisee box office at 207.783.2009 x 525. For more information on the event, visit You can watch NEF videos, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”