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April 5, 2017

CES 42: The Fallout

Chris Curtis v. Wilfredo Santiago Jr. for the Welterweight Championship of the World

Travis Lizotte

                Once again, Friday night, CES took over the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island with what was to be one of the most highly anticipated cards in the promotion’s history. The recipe called for a perfect mixture of CES Superstars, CES rising stars and hungry competition from all across the United States and Canada. UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich and AXS TV Fights voice Michael Schiavello had the call for the AXS TV televised Main Card as CES 42 lived up to its billing in front of a packed house of New England MMA fans. CES matchmaker Pat Sullivan did some serious work to put together the deepest, stacked card in the promotion’s already storied history, headlined by a Welterweight Title Fight that was guaranteed to produce fireworks. CES Welterweight Champion Chris “The Action Man” Curtis (15-5) weathered the powerful hands of Challenger Wilfredo Santiago Jr. (7-4) who had shut the lights out on his last four opponents all in the very first round. The Champion Curtis survived what he admitted were the hardest strikes he had faced in his career, and came out in the second round and used good head movement along with some well timed counter shots to drop Santiago with a big upper cut and finish “The Brown Bomber” with a knee to the chest that drew the stoppage by referee John English. In the Co Main Event, Providence’s Luis “Rockstar” Felix (15-9) made his return to the cage for the first time in 14 months. Felix used strikes to set up some superior wrestling, which lead to a Submission via Rear Naked Choke over Arkansas striker Dawond Pickney (10-8) in a dominant display from Felix. Framingham’s Saul Almeida (19-8) used his unorthodox style and superior grappling to grind out Fall River’s Josh LaBerge (11-6) on his way to a Rear Naked Choke Submission with just ten seconds left in the fight. New York’s Kenny “The Tooth Fairy” Foster (12-11) inched his record past the .500 mark with an upset Unanimous Decision over Joe “Lights Out” Pingatore (7-3-1). In the fifth fight on the card Kody Nordby would make his return to the Flyweight division after a going 5-1 in his last 6 contests at both Bantamweight and Featherweight.

                Kody “The RI Kid” Nordby (9-4) showed that he is a much more polished fighter than he was when he started his career 3-2 in the Flyweight division. After another statement win in the Bantamweight division by second round guillotine in January at CES 41, against David Garcia, Rhode Island’s Nordby announced that he was going to move down in weight, to Flyweight where he started his professional career. Pat Sullivan wasted no time putting Nordby in with one of the best the division had to offer in David Baxter (4-2),Baxter, whose only loss had come against rising star Josh Ricci, was hoping to make Nordby’s return to Flyweight a difficult one. But once the bell rang it was evident that Nordby was right at home in the cage at the Flyweight division, Kody again used his superior strength and high level wrestling to overwhelm Baxter. Baxter did all he could to avoid having the fight stopped due to ground and pound, but gave up his back allowing Nordby to sink in a tight Rear Naked Choke in the final minute of the first frame to get the tap. When Kody stopped by to talk with me following the fight he made his intentions clear, once he secures the CES Flyweight title he would like to “Conor McGregor CES” and come back to Bantamweight and add that title to his trophy case. Which is of course is all subject to whether or not Kody gets the call up to fight for a national promotion. As for now it looks like Kody will take another fight in the Flyweight division, and hopes that next fight is for a CES title. Nordby, who is 6-1 in his last seven fights with the one loss coming to Andre Soukhamthath in an absolute war for the Bantamweight title, not only wants to prove that he is the best fighter at Flyweight and Bantamweight, but that he is more than worthy of discussion as the “Pound for Pound” best fighter in New England.

                Kris Moutinho proves to naysayers that a step up in competition is just another day in the fight game for the fastest rising star in New England MMA. Moutinho (4-0) came to CES as a very highly touted prospect and deservingly so, Kris had held belts in both the Bantamweight and Flyweight divisions in his amateur career for Cage Titans. When Kris turned pro in 2016 he turned his sights to the CES cage to make his name and ever since he has been doing just that. Moutinho seems to answer any questions his critics may have each time he steps in the cage. His second fight in the CES cage against Mike Karam, was one of the more well-rounded, dominating performances I’ve seen in the CES cage, when he swept the judges’ scorecards on his way to a Unanimous decision victory. That win then left fans wondering if Kris had the ability to finish a fight; his answer came at CES 41 when he knocked out Jason Rine in ten seconds with a headkick. Moutinho answered more questions Friday night when he fought, by far, his most seasoned opponent to date in Lloyd Reyes (4-4). Moutinho showed off an impressive display of striking as well as grappling en route to another Unanimous Decision victory that again, never looked to be in question throughout the fight. Kris will undoubtedly face yet another tough opponent in his next fight in the CES cage, but to Kris it doesn’t matter who you put across the cage from him, he has the skills and the heart to beat anyone. Moutinho will welcome any challengers on his quest to prove to everyone that he is not only one the best Bantamweight prospect in New England, but that he is the best fighter in New England, period.

                As for competition for fastest rising star in the Bantamweight division, Moutinho’s only opposition may be his friend and training partner; Richie Santiago. Santiago (4-0) made it four straight submission victories Friday night, when he also took on his most seasoned opponent to date, and finished Fitchburg’s Chad “Machine Gun” Kelly (3-4) by second round Rear Naked Choke. Santiago has now finished each of his opponents within the first two rounds as a professional and has never really looked to be in trouble in any of those fights. Richie, like his friend and fellow BST product Moutinho, has shown a well rounded MMA game in all facets of the fight, which should boast well for the BST camps fighters and coaches. Both fighters (Santiago and Moutinho) have also been very receptive to talking with the local media, whether it is pre fight or post fight, and for that I have the upmost respect for these guys and their attitudes. Being such highly regarded prospects in a sport like Mixed Martial Arts can go to people’s heads but these guys are very humble, down to earth guys that I will always look forward to seeing when covering the CES promotion. I would expect to see one if not both of these guys signing to fight at the next CES event at Twin River Casino (CES 44) as each could look to further their undefeated careers.

                Rounding out the rest of the nights action; Stoughton’s Pat Walsh (10-3) suffered a grueling split decision loss to Team Link’s Dirlei Broenstrup(15-4), once again Walsh proved to be the far superior wrestler but Broenstrup was very active on the ground nearly finishing Pat in the first round by inverted triangle. Dirlei also looked to get the better of Walsh on the feet but when I scored the fight live I thought Pat’s many takedowns and top control would be enough to give him the nod from the judges. However, the fight was extremely close to call and I have zero complaint with the way the decision came doewn. The Final three fights of the night all featured home grown New England talent, against fighters from other regions looking to break into the professional ranks. Cranston, Rhode Island’s Gary “Batman” Balletto Jr. (3-1) earned his third stoppage win when he caught Syracuse, New York’s Chris “Rico” Torres (0-1) in a first round Kneebar for his second submission win in the professional ranks. Fellow Tri-Force fighter, and Providence native Marquis Brewster (3-0), earned a lopsided Unanimous Decision victory over Philadelphia’s Cody Hier (0-1) in their Bantamweight match up. Also, Framingham, Massachusetts’ Maria Rivera (2-0) used effective counterstriking and relentless submission attempts to hold off Arkansas’ Jessica Sotack (0-1) in a fight that seemed to be a very close matchup.

                All in all it was another great night inside the Twin River Event center for CES 42, where CES continues to show why it is highly regarded as the top promotion in New England as well as one of the best regional promotions the country has to offer. CES makes its return to Twin River Friday May, 12th for CES 44, when Bantamweight World Champion Matt “The Mangler” Bessette puts his World Title on the line against Oklahoma’s Jeremy Spoon (19-3). Be sure not to miss CES 43; Friday April 15th from the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass, when Gloucester’s Pedro Gonzalez (11-5) takes on Brazil’s Bruno “Jacare” Dias (19-9) in the Main Event, as well as the returns of fan favorites; Rico DiSciullo, Louis Corapi and Connor Barry.