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May 2, 2017

Bessette makes second title defense at CES MMA 44

[CES Press Release]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (April 28th, 2017) -- CES MMA has upped the ante for its upcoming AXS TV showcase, featuring the return of World Featherweight Champion Matt Bessette, plus an intriguing welterweight bout between two rising prospects vying for their own shot at the title.

Bessette (21-7, 6 KOs), the widely-popular, reigning title-holder in the 145-pound division from Stafford, Conn., headlines "CES MMA 44" live on AXS TV Fights on Friday, May 12th, 2017 at Twin River Casino in a five-round title defense against Oklahoma's Jeremy Spoon (20-3, 1 KO), Bessette's second defense since capturing the title in August.

While Bessette's loyal social media army continues to lobby for his promotion to MMA's biggest stage, the 32-year-old simply keeps winning fights - six in a row, to be exact - in dominant fashion, including his systematic breakdown of Kevin Croom in January at "CES MMA 41" in which Bessette battered and bruised his opponent en route to a third-round TKO win.

The six-time CES MMA and nine-time Bellator vet now faces the dangerous Spoon, himself a four-time Bellator vet with 12 of his 20 pro wins coming by submission. The 32-year-old Spoon competed in the Seasons 6 and 7 Bellator Featherweight Tournaments, where he fought two-time champion Daniel Straus and Season 8 finalist Mike Richman, and recently defeated two-time Bellator vet Josh Tyler by unanimous decision.

The Bessette-Spoon main event title bout is one of six televised fights on the AXS TV main card, which begins 9 p.m. ET, with the preliminary fight card beginning at 7.

Tickets for "CES MMA 44" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at,, or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

Also on the main card, Woonsocket, R.I., native and three-time Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) vet Sean Soriano (9-5, 4 KOs) makes his long-awaited homecoming in a featherweight bout against New Yorker Jacob Bohn (5-2, 1 KO), Soriano's first fight in Rhode Island since his CES MMA debut in 2012 when he knocked out Lee Metcalf at "CES MMA 9."

As an added bonus, fellow Woonsocket native and Blackzillians teammate, UFC bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath, will also return to his home state to work Soriano's corner against Bohn. The two have combined for 15 CES MMA appearances, including Soriano's last bout inside the CES cage at "CES MMA 38" on AXS TV against UFC vet Levan Makashvili.

"CES MMA 44" also features the return of Providence heavyweight Greg Rebello (21-7, 13 KOs), looking to continue his climb back to the top of the division in a scheduled three-round bout against Colorado's Kevin Ray Sears (6-3, 3 KOs).

Welterweights Jon Manley (9-3) of Adams, Mass., and Manny Walo (11-2, 2 KOs) of Jersey City, N.J., clash in a CES MMA title eliminator with the winner facing reigning world champion Chris Curtis.

Manley, a standout on Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, makes his third CES MMA appearance and first since 2015 while Walo returns hoping to earn a second shot at the CES MMA World Welterweight Title following a stunning, 11-second knockout loss to then champion Chuck O'Neil in his first opportunity at "CES MMA 27." Manley has won his last four, including two appearances with World Series of Fighting (WSOF), and eight of nine overall.

The reigning champion Curtis, now 15-5 overall, recently defended his title at "CES MMA 42," stopping challenger Wilfredo Santiago via second-round knockout on AXS TV.

Light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez (6-2, 4 KOs) of Quincy, Mass., who has made quick work of his last two opponents in a combined 46 seconds, jumps right back in on the main card "CES MMA 44" against New Jersey's Alec Hooben (5-2, 1 KO) and undefeated flyweight Carlos Candelario (5-0, 1 KO) of New Britain, Conn., faces Grand Rapid, Mich., native Shawn Mack (6-2, 1 KO).

Rodriguez set a new CES MMA record with his 7-second knockout win over Hector Sanchez in January and pummeled James Dysard in just 39 seconds at "CES MMA 43," earning him his third appearance on AXS TV Fights on May 12th. Candelario, a rising star in the flyweight division, makes his fifth appearance with CES MMA after submitting Miguel Restrepo in January.

The preliminary card features the return of three-time CES MMA vet Toby Oden (2-1, 1 KO) of Milford, Mass., making his first appearance since 2015 plus two exciting female bouts. Oden faces Paul Sims of Philadelphia, who makes his professional debut. Oden last fought at "CES MMA 29," scoring a first-round knockout win over Wayne Alhquist.

Also on the preliminary card, undefeated female flyweight Maria Rivera (2-0, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., returns for the third time since January in a three-round bout against New Haven, Conn., pre debut Marisa Messer-Belenchia while renowned bantamweight prospect Kerri Kenneson of Hooksett, N.H., debut against unbeaten Jennifer Norris (3-0, 1 KO) of Baltimore.

Milford, Conn., middleweight Justin Sumter (3-1, 2 KOs), who earned an impressive first-round knockout win in his CES MMA debut at "CES MMA 43" in Massachusetts, returns to face unbeaten Sandwich, Mass., native Brian Sparrow (2-0), who makes his second appearance with CES MMA in his first fight since 2013.

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-- CES --