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September 1, 2015


[NEF Press Release]

Lewiston, Maine (August 31, 2015) – New England Fights (NEF), America's number-one regional fight promotion, will hold its nineteenth mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event, "NEF XIX," on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine.  The fight card will feature two amateur women's bouts.  Angela Young (0-0) of Young's MMA in Bangor is scheduled to make her debut against Rachel Reinheimer (1-0) from team Sityodtong.   Young's teammate Kira Innocenti (0-0) is also scheduled to make her debut against Hannah Sparrell (0-0) from First Class MMA in Brunswick.

Angela Young is the wife of Chris Young - owner and founder of Young's MMA.  She views her debut fight as a way of testing herself.

"It's important for me to test myself," said Young, "not only in the cage come September 12th, but also through the fight that's happened the last eight weeks leading up to the NEF event.  I feel the fight is essentially a showcase and representation of the grueling training sessions and endless hours in the gym that took place prior to fight night.  Living the MMA lifestyle to me meant more than diet modifications and strict training schedules.  Athletically, it was more about enduring through the obstacles and pushing my limits as a competitor in a way that had not been tested. It was about proving to myself, my coaches and my teammates that I have earned my right to step in the cage."

Where in the past women have been relegated to the sideshow and novelty portions of combat sports events, like boxing, women's MMA has not only risen to equal status with men's MMA, it has, in some ways, surpassed it.  One has to look only to the highest level of the sport to see this trend.  Women's fights are now routinely present on the main cards of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  The promotion's top star, and its highest paid athlete, is its women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (12-0).  The women competing on the September 12 card will be at the forefront of a movement to expand opportunities for women at the regional level.

"MMA for women is not hugely different than it is for men," stated Young. "Obviously, MMA is a predominantly male sport, but successful women in the MMA world are on the rise. Through this fight camp I have grappled, sparred and wrestled with the Young's MMA fight team and they have been unrelentingly supportive. Being one of the first female fighters out of Young's certainly has its pressures (as well as being married to Mr. Young) but it's also a spotlight I'm hoping will inspire other women who otherwise wouldn't have pursued MMA.  I would bet the women's fights on September 12th won't be unlike the others we've seen at prior NEF events. I expect the women to put on a great show because we do have something to prove. I have put blood, sweat and tears into training and you better believe I'm assuming my opponents done the same. That being said, the women are going to come after it to plant their stake in the NEF cage."

Both Young's teammate, Kira Innocenti, as well has her opponent at "NEF XIX," Rachel Reinheimer, seem to concur with Young's views on the rapid growth of women's MMA.

"Women's MMA is on the rise," said Innocenti.  "Each discipline teaches a woman something she does not know about herself. I have seen it build confidence in myself and many others. The more women on the mats, the better.  Fans can expect my teammate, Angie, and myself to give it our all and go to war just like the male warriors at Young's MMA do. We have worked hard to represent our gym. We will fight with pride, passion, and with the strongest corners looking out for us. I can assure you that the women's bouts will be unforgettable."

"Women's MMA is a sport just like any other," stated Reinheimer of Everett, Massachusetts.  "It's not an action movie where the hero runs out into the woods for three days to train with a martial arts master and then defeats an entire army. It's not a bar brawl. It's not a back alley ambush. These women are serious athletes who train diligently for years using the best training, equipment and resources available. Women who compete in combat sports spend thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears perfecting their sport. They make sacrifices. Furthermore, there are rules and time limits and safety precautions. When someone is unfamiliar with the idea of women's MMA, I compare it to boxing or fencing, something else that people are more familiar with.  The pool of women fighters in New England is deepening fast and the fact that there are more women's bouts on fight cards reflects that. My opponent and I are both from serious, hardworking camps. We are both mothers and it takes a lot of determination and drive to do this sport while juggling work and children. I have been working tirelessly with my team since my last fight to improve my game in every aspect. I am so grateful for the amazing training and teammates at Sityodtong that push me so hard. On September 12, you can expect a war."

Most individuals, both men and women, who join MMA gyms do not do so initially intending to become an active cage fighter.  On any given day, one can walk into any MMA gym and find a diverse population of trainees.  Men and women, old and young, blue collar and white collar, all train side by side.  Most will never step foot in a cage in front of thousands of screaming fans.  Most are there to get in shape or learn self-defense.  Some, however, are bitten by the competition bug.

"I was introduced to the MMA world after signing my daughter up for Jiu Jitsu classes thinking it would be beneficial to her for the self defense aspect involved in the sport," recalled Hanna Sparrell.  "I watched as she fell in love with the game, gaining strength and confidence, and was quick to decide that it was something I needed to be doing too.  It didn’t take long before I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu myself, and then ultimately wanted to explore the other aspects of the MMA world. Being in the gym has become a second home for me and my daughter, my training partners, a second family.  Every day I walk through the doors of the gym is a test, it’s a test of athleticism, as well as a test of mental and emotional drive. Since being introduced to the mixed martial arts world I have put my body, heart, and soul into training, and competing in this bout is important to me for many reasons, not only to represent myself and my hard work, but also to represent all the hard work, dedication, and encouragement I have received from my friends, instructors, training partners, and fellow fighters along the way.  I think MMA training for woman is a great outlet for many reasons, it physically is a great workout, and is also a good form of “therapy” at the end of a possibly stressful day. I have many women I train with, not all of them are planning on fighting, but the benefits of the sport are still there, and they love it just the same."

Innocenti, like many, became involved in fight sports as a way to get in, and stay in, shape.  Little did she know when her journey started some two years ago that it would take her into an MMA cage with thousands watching her compete.

"Testing myself in a mixed martial arts bout is important to me in many regards. Two years ago, I was overweight and struggling to find a healthy, fulfilling path. One day, I woke up and took life by the reigns and in half a year, lost sixty pounds on my own. I welcomed that challenge, succeeded, and wanted another. Aaron "Relentless" Lacey told me about Young's MMA and I was compelled to check it out. After stepping through the doors, trying out all of the classes, and meeting the family who made it so special, I was hooked. I made it a goal to be one of the first female fighters on the arguably most dominant fight team in New England. I have always been a competitor. I enjoy challenging myself and pushing limits that are thought to be impossible to achieve. Living the mixed martial arts lifestyle is tough. It requires more dedication than I ever imagined possible. It breaks you and builds you back up into the person you truly are. This fight is important because I have been spoiled with an amazing team by my side that is taught by the most motivating and encouraging coaches. I am determined to make them proud and thank them with my hand being raised."

"Mixed Martial Arts is the ultimate test of the human spirit on every level: physically, mentally, and emotionally," said Reinheimer.  "I have a burning desire to know how far I can go. I like exceeding expectations and pushing my limits and that's MMA in a nutshell.  Since I started training in martial arts, my life has become boundary-less. My life on the mat has improved my life off the mat and vice versa. It's stripped away all the unnecessary distractions and distilled my life down to what really matters, in and out of the ring. I feel like it's helped me become much closer to my authentic self. It's the best of ancient martial arts and modern life."

Of the four women fighting on the "NEF XIX" card, only Reinheimer has actively competed in the past.  She dominated her opponent this past spring on her way to a unanimous decision victory in her debut.  All of the women fighting on September 12 in Lewiston are excited for the opportunity.

"NEF is a solid promotion with a great reputation," said Reinheimer.  "I was a spectator at their very first fight card back in 2012.  I love Maine and the crowd is awesome there.  I can't wait!"

"I think the fans can expect a great show indeed," exclaimed Sparrell.  "More often than not the women’s fights have proven to be extremely entertaining, we of course want to prove ourselves worthy in this prominently male-dominated sport. This is the debut for three out of four of the women on this card, so I know there is going to be a lot of heart and determination thrown into these fights. I know, personally, I am very excited to represent!  I couldn’t be more excited to be making my MMA debut in the NEF cage; I have watched so many of the fighters I idolize and look up to in this sport from the stands of the Androscoggin Bank Colisée, having the opportunity to now be out there with them really is a true honor."

"As September 12th rapidly approaches, I'm becoming more excited and ready to get in the cage," said Young.  "This has been quite a journey and I'm grateful for the opportunity of making my amateur MMA debut with NEF."

"I am ecstatic to make my MMA debut with NEF on September 12th," said Innocenti. "I have worked tirelessly to get this opportunity and I am excited that the time has come."

New England Fights' next event, "NEF XIX," takes place on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine.  Tickets for "NEF XIX" start at just $25 and are on sale now at or by calling the Colisée 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 videos at, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”