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November 19, 2015


[CZ Press Release]

SALEM, NH (Nov. 18, 2015)- Neither of his previous opponents could last as long as a single minute in the cage, but Shawn Melanson knows that his fight on Friday night for the vacant Combat Zone MMA Lightweight championship against the seasoned Vince Ciotoli will be the most challenging of his young career.

Experts agree that the 22-year-old from Manchester, NH is a rising star on the Northeast fight scene and he is packed with potential, but no one knows yet just how good he is. In his first fight, Melanson submitted his opponent in 48 seconds and then it was just 39 seconds before his last rival tapped out.

"I wasn't expecting to go to the ground for either of those fights, but I was ready for it. I hit the ground and I hit the submissions. I'm not making any predictions this time, except that I'll still be undefeated after the fight," he said.

Melanson is such a serious student of the sport that he quit his full-time job to deliver pizza one day per week so that he may devote all of his time, energy and effort to training. Working with martial arts legend Nuri Shakur and Matt Pedro at Gate City MMA in Nashua, NH and Ray Shawdee at Top Team in Windham, NH, he trains 50 hours or more over six days per week.

"I'm really happy with my fighter and about this fight. A lot of times, as a coach, you can go into a fight and the opponent poses a lot of different threats so you tell your guy what to work on. But for this fight, I feel we are ready wherever it could go. Shawn has done all of the work and all of the preparation he needed. He has concentrated on specific techniques to work his range and distancing, we have bridged any gap from his striking to his grappling. I can't wait to watch him fight," said Shawdee, who has been a successful pro MMA combatant for over a decade.

That in and of itself is unusual for Shawdee.

 "I don't normally get excited to see many fights, but I am really looking forward to watching Shawn on Friday. That's because of what he's done and the person who he is. He's in here working out when no one else is. He's doing everything he's supposed to. He's very regimented, and that's what it takes to stand out in this sport. He separates himself by doing the extra work, putting in the extra hours," he said. "I'm really excited about his career and where it can go."

Melanson, who wrestled at Alvirne High School, only took up mixed martial arts two years ago but has made a quantum leap in his progress. He is big, strong and mentally as well as physically tough. He's heavy-handed and has knock-out power, and his ground game is excellent. Even better, he's got the fever.

"I love it. I love everything about it. I love training and I love fighting. I give a lot of credit to my coaches, who have been great. They are a huge part of it," said Melanson, whose uncle fought back in the day, when it was bare knuckles and there were no rules and no holds barred in MMA. "This is what I want to do with my life."

Said Shawdee, who incidentally began his career with Shakur as his coach, "We're all really in this kid's corner and we're all pulling for him. I think he's got an opportunity to make some waves, some big, big waves, in MMA, and especially on the local scene."

First things first. Melanson, who will be eligible to turn pro after this fight, needs to beat the far more experienced Ciotoli (5-3). The fighter from Endicott, NY invades fresh off a tough split decision loss and will be fired up to get back on the winning track.

"Watch out. You do not want to fight this kid," Shawdee admonished. "I hope everybody comes out to watch Shawn fight and we're all really excited to see him take the belt home"

Melanson's title bout is one of two championship tilts, one pitching two current belt holders against each other, on the 13-bout stacked card of pro and amateur MMA and Muay Thai action.

Current Bantanweight champion Mike "The Animal" Scapichhio (4-0) puts his perfect record as well as his belt on the line against Danny "El Principe" Abad, the newly-crowned Featherwight champion in the main event at 135 pounds.

Representing Spero's MMA in Plaistow, NH, Scapicicchio is a union electrician who works in Boston and is a student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. Abad (4-2) moved from New York to New Mexico to train at the celebrated Jackson-Wink Gym, which is also the base of Holly Holm, who on Saturday shocked the UFC world by knocking out the sport's superstar, Ronda Rousey.

In pro MMA action, Manchester, NH's Tom Caron (2-0) looks to extend his unbeaten streak against hard-knocking veteran Ralph Johnson (9-16) in a match at 185 pounds, and the always tough Jeff Anderson, a former Combat Zone headliner, will try to improve his 10-10 record against Lewis Corapi (6-2) in a battle at 155 pounds.

The under card features many of the up-and-coming fighters from the Merrimack Valley and across the Northeast.
Doors for Combat Zone 56 open at 5:30 PM on Friday and the first fight is at 7:00 PM. Tickets range from $40 for General Admission to $120 ringside seating and may be purchased at or by calling co-promoters Calvin Kattar and Jamison Kattar at 978-361-6772. Parking at the track is free.

The weigh-in will be on Thursday, Nov. 19 in the Sports Club at the racetrack at 6:00 PM. and it is free and open to the public.