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April 28, 2017

NEF 28: The Rivalry Renewed; Sanders v. Lemke II

NEF 28: Lightweight Tournament Final Sanders v. Lemke II

Travis Lizotte

                On Saturday Night April 29th the Androscoggin Bank Colisee will open its doors for the second time this year to the New England Fights promotion. Although the fight card will be different from that of NEF 27, the business will be very much the same as that snowy night in February. On February 11th the promotion rolled out the first round of a four man tournament for their now vacant Lightweight title, formally held by now UFC fighter Devin Powell. Powell who gained attention of UFC president Dana White at “NEF presents Dana White looking for a fight,” became the latest NEF Lightweight Champion to vacate their titles to pursue careers with national promotions, following both Des Green (Bellator) and Bruce Boytington (World Series of Fighting). The opening round of the NEF Lightweight tournament pitted Team Irish’s Jon Lemke against Central Maine BJJ’s Jesse Erickson, and Young’s MMA’s Ryan Sanders against South Tampa BJJ’s John Ortolani. Both Lemke and Sanders wasted little time, earning decisive first round finishes, to punch their tickets to the tournament finals. Lemke needed just one minute and fifteen seconds to earn a TKO stoppage over Jesse Erickson, Sanders took just fifteen seconds to unleash a head kick that stopped Ortolani in his tracks to set up a tournament final with one hell of a story behind it, all the while being for the most coveted Title Belt in all of New England MMA.

                Sanders and Lemke are already veterans of storied MMA careers throughout the cages of the New England circuit and it was only a matter of time before the two would face off again, after their fight in November 2016 ended early when a cut on Lemke’s head would not allow him to continue. The history between the two fighters goes back much further than last November however, the two foes had actually been training partners at one time, under the tutelage of Team Irish and its founder, UFC star; Marcus “The Irish Handgrenade” Davis. Sanders however, left Team Irish to train under Chris Young at Young’s MMA and would eventually end up squaring off with his former Coach Marcus Davis at NEF 12: Only One Will Win, where Sanders stopped his former Coach in the first round, in what would create quite the rivalry between Sanders and Team Irish. Lemke on the other hand continued to hone his skills under Davis and the Team Irish banner on his way to becoming one of the top Lightweights in New England. When both fighters showed up on opposite sides of the tournament bracket for the NEF title it seemed like a rematch between the two, was already a foregone conclusion.

                When both fighters punched their tickets to the finals on February 11th at NEF 27, the next chapter in the two lightweight’s rivalry was ready to be written, much to the delight of both fighters as well as MMA fans across New England. Sanders is eager to put to bed the idea that his win against Lemke last November was in any way tainted, after the cut to Lemke’s head did not allow the fight to continue. Sanders, who was ahead 20-18 on all three judges’ scorecards when the fight was stopped, surely looked to be in control of their first contest, and is willing to show the NEF crowd that he can again defeat Lemke decisively, Saturday night. The former Marine Jon Lemke is equally eager to get redemption against Sanders and is looking to show that no fight is too big for the vaunted lightweight veteran as he sets his eyes on NEF gold. When the pin falls into the cage door on Saturday night in Lewiston, the two men who stand across the cage from each other will be more motivated than ever before, to add another chapter to their rivalry, to put a belt around their waist and to gain attention from the top National Promotions, in the same fashion as the three NEF Lightweight Champions have before them. This will undoubtedly be the toughest test of both fighters’ careers and there will be no love lost once that bell rings.

                Sanders will be looking to have his hand raised for the seventh time in his last eight fights, including his win against Lemke in November. Sanders has compiled an impressive 13-8 record as a professional which is even more impressive when you include wins against the likes of Luis Felix, Lucas Cruz and the aforementioned Marcus Davis, but no win would be bigger for Ryan than to get his hand raised Saturday against Lemke and all but ensure his rise to the national circuit. Lemke on the other hand, ended a four fight losing streak with his first round TKO of Jesse Erickson in the tournament’s opening round, in what seemed to be a must win in the career of Lemke. Lemke’s 6-7 record doesn’t even begin to tell the story of his career, as he has continues to fight the top lightweights in the region. Taking Lemke’s record at face value is absolutely criminal, if you consider his losses to Devin Powell, Bruce Boyington and Josh LeBerge that lead up to his subsequent defeat at the hands of Sanders. Lemke shows every time out that he is just one well timed strike away from ending anyone’s night in violent fashion. Sure, Sanders may be the more polished all around fighter in this matchup, but Lemke isn’t about making the fight pretty and hopes he can let his heavy hands do the talking once the bell rings for Saturday’s main event.

                NEF fans will be treated to nine total fights at NEF 28, a four fight amateur undercard, with a five fight professional main card highlighted by the highly anticipated main event; Sanders v. Lemke II. Here is a look at the rest of the card for NEF 28, tickets for Saturday’s event are still available by going to or visiting the Colisee box office, You Do Not Want To Miss It;

Main Card


155*TITLE* Ryan Sanders 13-8 (Young's MMA) v. Jon Lemke 6-7 (Team Irish)

150 Tollison Lewis 1-5 (CMBJJ) v. Dominic Jones 0-0 (First Class)

145 Andre Belcarris 0-0 (NE Assassins) v. Walter Smith-Cotito 4-5 (Team Link Hookestt)

145 Josh Harvey 3-0 (Young's MMA) v. Derek Shorey 4-8 (Shatterproof)

145 Matt Denning 3-6 (CMBJJ) v. Josh Parker 5-8 (Ruthless)



185 Sean Worcester 0-2 (Independent) v. Josh Jones 0-0 (First Class)

170 Mason Travers 0-0 (Huard's) v. Nigel Moye (Independent)

140 Glenn Kasabian 1-1 (Nostos MMA) v. Jacob Deppmeyer 0-1 (First Class)

125 Caleb Austin 0-0 (Independent) v. James Ploss 0-0 (Kaze Dojo)