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October 9, 2013


[NEF Press Release]

Lewiston, Maine (October 8, 2013) – New England Fights Mixed Martial Arts (NEF MMA) today announced the addition of a professional heavyweight bout to the fight promotion's next event, “NEF XI,” on November 9th at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.  That bout will feature Josh Watson (7-3) taking on Ryan Hodge (5-7), and it will be a homecoming, of sorts, for both athletes.

"You have two guys with strong ties to the area," stated NEF matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson.  "Both have gone on to train in other parts of the country, but both still have plenty of fans, family and friends in the region, so it'll definitely have that 'homecoming' feel in the Colisee on November 9."

Josh “Stay Down” Watson, a former football player from the University of Maine, has been fighting professionally for almost seven years. He began studying mixed martial arts under the watchful eyes of instructors Jay Jack and Amanda Buckner at the Academy of Mixed Martial Arts in Portland, Maine in 2006. In 2010, Watson made the decision to move to Las Vegas to train full-time. A top-ranked light-heavyweight in the Northeast at the time, Watson had become known for finishing his opponents with his dynamic striking. Six of his seven professional wins have come by way of knockout or technical knockout.

“I’m excited to be fighting back in Maine in front of my friends and family, but apparently not as excited as they are to see me,” stated Watson when reached for comment. “I’ve forgotten how many fans I have in the past two years.”

Ryan Hodge is a native New Englander as well, having spent the early years of his life in Boston, Massachusetts before re-locating to southern Florida with his family in the 1990s.  Having excelled in swimming and wrestling in high school, Hodge was on the swim team at the University of Florida and took the lead in founding the school's wrestling club.  It was during that time Hodge took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and started competing in MMA.  Now a brown belt in BJJ, and with a wealth of experience in the sport of MMA, Hodge and his wife are the head coaches at F2 Arena in Gainesville, Florida.

Hodge's first appearance for NEF MMA was at NEF VI this past February where he competed in his regular middleweight division.  He lost that bout via unanimous decision to Luc Bondole (2-0-1), but in the process gained the respect of Maine's hardcore MMA fans.  One month later, Hodge returned to New England, submitting a tough Cody Anderson (1-2) in the first round of a Salem, New Hampshire fight card.  And while he was born a New Englander, has fought twice this year in the region, and still has family in the area, make no mistake about it, Ryan Hodge has no problem with playing the role of "visitor" for his upcoming fight with Josh Watson.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to fight again in Maine," said Hodge when reached for comment.  "Coming back to New England Fights, this time at a higher weight class, I hope to put on a more exciting fight than my last middleweight bout with NEF.  Watson is a hometown guy and I always seem to be fighting the hometown guy.  I guess that's just my lot in the fight game.  Since I don't have much luck with decisions against hometown heroes, expect me to turn up the juice, Maine. I'll see you all from the cage!"

"It's not often that you get a pro heavyweight fight of this magnitude, and this well-matched, on a regional card," said NEF promoter and co-owner Nick DiSalvo.  "This one is a must-see for fans of the larger fighters.  It will be explosive!"

NEF MMA’s next event, “NEF XI,” is scheduled to take place on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.  Maine State MMA Bantamweight Champion Paul Gorman (9-8) is scheduled to defend his title that night against Tateki Matsuda (7-4).  Tickets start at just $10 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 and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at  In addition, you can watch NEF MMA videos at, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”