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November 1, 2018

CES MMA 53 Preview: Nordby v. Gravely Updated with Weigh in Photos

Bantamweight World Title

Travis Lizotte

Friday November 2nd CES MMA returns from the “City of Brotherly Love,” to their home at the Twin River Event Center at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island as Jimmy Burchfield presents CES MMA 53: Paiva v. Gravely. New England’s premier MMA promotion returns to the Ocean State with a familiar goal in mind: once again crowning their Bantamweight World Champion. That riddle was solved at CES 50 in June; when Andre Ewell (13-4) captured the 135 pound title with a third round choke of hometown favorite Dinis Paiva (11-7). However, the victory over Paiva captured more than just a top regional crown for Ewell, it also grabbed the attention of the sports top promotion, the UFC. The newly crowned CES Bantamweight Champion; Ewell, made his UFC debut just three months later at UFC Fight Night 137 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earning a split-decision victory over former UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao, thus vacating the CES Bantamweight title. CES matchmaker Pat Sullivan will once again turn to the pride of East Providence; Dinis Paiva as he draws another tough matchup against Virginia Wrestler; Tony Gravely (15-5). These two title hungry Bantamweights will highlight a stacked card that can be seen live on AXS TV beginning at 9pm eastern.
As always CES will set the stage with some of the regions top talent, all vying for a climb up the regional and AXS TV Fights rankings as they set the tone for the Bantamweight headliner. One of the fastest rising New England prospects in recent memory; Richie Santiago (6-1) finds himself in unfamiliar waters as he fights coming off a loss for the first time in his professional career. Santiago’s road to stardom doesn’t get any easier however, as he finds himself in a battle with veteran New England Flyweight Billy Giovanella (9-8). CES fan favorite Kody Nordby (9-4) makes his long awaited return to the CES cage following a 20 month layoff that included a 9 month deployment to Iraq and Syria with the US Army’s 182 Infantry. Nordby will be welcomed back to the CES by New York’s Zachary Burhans (3-2) as these fighters square off in the Bantamweight division. Kris Moutinho (6-2) continues his climb up the Bantamweight ranks as the 135 pound prospect looks to run his current winning streak to three fights as he throws down with James Quigg (4-2), who happens to be a teammate of Moutinho’s last opponent Da’Mon Blackshear at Team ROC in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Danville, New Hampshire native Featherweight prospect; Dylan Lockard (4-1) locks horns with another Team Roc athlete in Anthony “The Darkhorse” Wright (3-0).
Undefeated Flyweight prospect Josh Ricci (4-0) has had trouble with his bouts making it to the cage, Ricci takes the cage for the first time in 2018 as he looks to keep his record “clean” against New England Flyweight veteran Johnny “Mr. Nice Guy” Lopez (9-5). New England Heavyweight veteran Parker Porter (8-4) will look to make it three straight finishes as he stands across the cage from the heavy handed Keith “Badnewz” Bell (9-9-1), in a fight that many believe won’t make it out of the first round, let alone to the judges score cards. The man with the Legendary lineage; John Gotti III (2-0) looks to improve on what has been two first round finishes to open his career as he matches wits with Josh Zuckerman (0-3). Fabio Cherant (3-0) and Ron Marshall (Debut) will settle their over two year long grudge, as they share the cage for the third time in their combat sports careers, and for the first time as professionals. Once a top Amateur Middleweight; Tommy Davis (0-1)looks to bounce back from a disappointing professional debut as he draws three fight veteran Hugh McKenna (1-2). Not to be undersold; Amateur Flyweight phenom; Justin Valentin (5-1 as Amateur) makes his highly anticipated professional and promotional debut against Fall River’s Jesse Pires (0-2) as a prospect laden undercard will set the tone for what shapes up to be a great night of fights at CES 53!

Click Below for a detailed breakdown of each match up from the CES MMA 53 card, fights are listed in order, however that order is subject to change.
Update: Dinis Paiva is out of the Main Event against Tony Gravely, Kody Nordby steps up to fight Tony Gravely for the Vacant Bantamweight title. Zachary Burhans now Draws Andy Aiello who stepped up on less than two days notice to save the fight against Burhans.

Jesse Pires (0-2) v. Justin Valentin (Debut)

Jesse “The Road Runner” Pires
Fighting out of: Fall River, Massachusetts
Affiliation: Borges Karate Jiu-Jitsu Academy  
Record: 0-2 (1 knockout and 1 submission loss)
Last fight: Third round submission loss (Triangle) to Jeff Silva at CES 51.
Justin Valentin
Fighting out of: Meriden, Connecticut
Affiliation: Underdog BJJ  
Record: Pro Debut (5-1 as an Amateur)
Last fight: First round knockout of Harris Bonfiglio at Reality Fighting
Breakdown: Fall River’s Pires has come up short in each of his appearances in the CES cage, having trouble giving up dominant position to his opponents on the ground, leading to an 0-2 start in his young career. Mistakes on the ground against Underdog Jiu Jitsu product Justin Valentin could make for another short night for Pires. Valentin breaks into the pro ranks as a highly touted Amateur prospect with fight finishing ability both on the ground and on the feet, and a highlight reel finish would be just what the doctor ordered in his promotional debut.    

Tommy Davis (0-1) v. Hugh McKenna (1-2)

Tommy Lee Davis
Fighting out of: Marblehead, Massachusetts
Affiliation: Sityodtong
Record: 0-1 (4-1 as Amateur)  
Last fight: First round Knockout loss to Armus Guyton at CES 48.
Hugh McKenna
Fighting out of: Syosset, New York
Affiliation: Panza MMA  
Record: 1-2 (1 Submission)
Last fight: Second round Submission loss (Amaricana) to Jesse Kosakowski at Reality Fighting.
Breakdown: Tommy Davis made his climb up the New England Amateur ranks one punch at a time, gaining notoriety as a knockout artist and striking feam across the middleweight division. But in order to live by the sword you must be willing to die by the sword, and in his pro debut in February; Davis fell victim to a stunning knockout at the hands of Armus Guyton. Davis will be welcoming former Bellator Welterweight Hugh McKenna to the CES cage, and to the Middleweight division both for the very first time. McKenna is going to want to close the distance against the rangey Davis and use his grappling to stay away from the end of Davis’ strikes, this could be an interesting fight stylistically with both fighters looking to implore entirely different game plans.

Fabio Cherant (3-0) v. Ron Marshall (Debut)

Fabio “The Water Buffalo” Cherant
Fighting out of: Wrentham, Massachusetts
Affiliation: Juniko/ Sityodtong  
Record: 3-0 (3 Submissions)
Last fight: First round submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Buck Pineau at CES 51.
Ron Marshall
Fighting out of: Dover, New Hampshire
Affiliation: Team Anubis
Record: Pro Debut (2-8 as an Amateur)
Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Jason Markland at NYFE 16.
Breakdown: In what will be the trilogy fight between these two, the feud between Ron Marshall and Fabio Cherant has spilled outside of the cage and on to the social media stage. Marshall handed Cherant the only loss of his MMA career in 2016 when Marshall won a Unanimous decision in what was Cherant’s Amateur debut. Cherant rectified the loss to Marshall in 2017 when he submitted Marshall in the first round at Cage Titans 34 before turning pro at the beginning of this year. Marshall’s Amateur career saw him win just two if his ten bouts, but given the grudge with Cherant, Marshall has decided to turn pro in an effort to prove to Cherant and naysayers that his win against Cherant was no fluke. Marshall has even gone as far as bringing in his old coach from Team Anubis (Dom Fiandaca), who he trained with for his first fight against Cherant, to help him once again solve the streaking prospect; Fabio Cherant.

John Gotti III (2-0) v. Josh Zuckerman (0-3)

John Gotti III
Fighting out of: Oyster Bay, New York
Affiliation: Panza MMA
Record: 2-0 (2 first round knockouts)
Last fight: First round Ground and Pound stoppage of Eddie Haws at CES NY 1.
Josh “Sugarman” Zuckerman
Fighting out of: Delray Beach, Florida
Record: 0-3 (3 losses by submission)
Last fight: Second round submission loss to Kendly St. Louis at Underground Cage FC.
Breakdown: Long Island’s John Gotti III has gained notoriety across the Northeast, not only for his notorious lineage, but for his savage skills in the combat cage. Gotti has logged just over four minutes combined in the CES cage, leading to two first round drubbings in his two professional bouts, once by knockout and another by way of submission. Gotti is an overpowering, explosive athlete that that looks to finish his opponent from the opening bell until the referee peels him away. Florida’s Zuckerman has been submitted in each of his three professional bouts but is not making the trip from Florida to Rhode Island to become another notch on the belt of Gotti, he is here to stop the hype train once and for all. Zuckerman will have the odds stacked against him as the Gotti Family travels deep and the buzz behind the grandson of the former “Boss” is most certainly real amongst the CES MMA fans!  

Keith Bell (9-9-1) v. Parker Porter (8-4)

Keith “Badnewz” Bell
Fighting out of: Newport News, Virginia
Affiliation: Elevate MMA/ Jawbreaker Boxing
Record: 9-9-1 (8 Knockouts, 1 Submission)  
Last fight: First round TKO (Strikes) of Ryan McGowan at Shogun Fights 17.
Parker Porter
Fighting out of: New Britain, Connecticut
Affiliation: Underdog BJJ
Record: 8-4 (4 Knockouts, 2 Submission)  
Last fight: Third round Knockout of JA Dudley at Reality Fighting.
Breakdown: Virginia’s Keith Bell has made his name on the regional scene as a knockout artist, in 19 career fights Bell has gone to the judge’s scorecards just once. The 39 year old Bell is a virtual carbon copy of the UFC Heavyweight Mark Hunt, like Hunt; Bell is a career .500 fighter, also like his UFC counterpart Bell is always just a perfectly timed overhand right away from ending a fight early. Bell will be looking to do just that on Friday night against New England Heavyweight Veteran Parker Porter. Like Bell; Porter possesses the power to end the fight on the feet, but I don’t see Parker standing and trading shots with the heavy handed Bell. Porter will likely be better versed forcing this fight into the grappling realm where Porter’s ground games could be the difference in this fight. But anyone who knows Bell knows that once his right hand connects the game plan goes out the window and the momentum of the fight can change in an instant, this should be a good one!  

Dylan Lockard (4-1) v. Anthony Wright (3-0)

Dylan Lockard
Fighting out of: Hollis, New Hampshire
Affiliation: Sityodtong   
Record: 4-1 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)
Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Branden Seyler Sr. at CES 51,
Anthony “The Darkhorse” Wright
Fighting out of: Sanford, North Carolina
Affiliation: Team ROC  
Record: 3-0 (3 Submissions)
Last fight: First round submission (Guillotine Choke) of Shelton Sales at Fight Lab 58.
Breakdown: CES Featherweight prospect Dylan Lockard is the grinder you would expect from a high level grappler, Lockard isn’t afraid to go all three rounds with his opponents and the longer a fight last the more the momentum swings in the direction of the suffocating style of Lockard. Lockard does however have two stoppage wins to his credit as not all of his opponents have been able to withstand his pressure for all three rounds. Enter North Carolina’s Anthony Wright; Wright has finished all three of his professional bouts by first round Guillotine choke, so Lockard will be wise to protect his neck during any and all grappling exchanges against the submission happy Wright. It will be interesting to see how this fight plays out, Lockard is known for his high level grappling and it will be exciting to see how that dominant grappling game will match up against the clearly talented Anthony Wright.  

Johnny Lopez (9-4) v. Josh Ricci (4-0)

Johnny “Mr. Nice Guy” Lopez
Fighting out of: Meriden, Connecticut
Affiliation: Underdog BJJ  
Record: 9-4 (5 Submissions)
Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Billy Giovanella at Bellator 185.
“Ruthless” Josh Ricci
Fighting out of: Whiteville, New York
Affiliation: Team Andrello  
Record: 4-0 (2 Submissions)
Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Brandon Warne at Bellator 182.
Breakdown: Longtime veteran of New England’s Flyweight division Johnny “Mr. Nice Guy” Lopez will make his long awaited debut in the CES cage Friday night as the decorated Reality Fighting and Bellator veteran looks to throw his name into the CES Flyweight title picture. The Submission specialist Lopez will be saddled with the unenviable task of trying to solve Undefeated prospect Josh Ricci. Ricci has some nice wins early in his young career including a submission win over David Baxter as well as a decision win over New England staple Remo Cardarelli, Ricci looks to add another impressive win to his resume in Johnny Lopez. This should be a true test for the youngster Ricci, who has had to battle back from injuries to take the cage for just the first time in 2018, after just one showing last year.  Ricci is looking to jump start his already budding career and a win over Lopez would be a huge step toward doing so.

Kris Moutinho (6-2) v. James Quigg (4-2)

Kris “The Soul Snatcher” Moutinho
Fighting out of: Milford, Massachusetts
Affiliation: BST MMA  
Record: 6-2 (2 Knockouts)
Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Da’Mon Blackshear at CES 51.
James Quigg
Fighting out of: Sanford, North Carolina
Affiliation: Team ROC  
Record: 4-2 (2 Knockouts, 2 Submissions)
Last fight: First round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Jessi Hackett at Elite Warrior Challenge 18.
Breakdown: Kris Moutinho continued to bounce back in the right direction last time out as the promising prospect made it two consecutive wins, following the first two losses of his career. Moutinho looked like a man on a mission, outpointing North Carolina’s Da’Mon Blackshear over three rounds on his way to a decisive Unanimous Decision victory.  More importantly Kris showed he had closed up some holes in his game, Moutinho’s grappling pressure and takedowns won him the fight against Blackshear and will once again be a big part of this contest, with Blackshear’s teammate; James Quigg. Quigg, the natural Featherweight, will come into this fight the much bigger of the two fighters, something that Moutinho is actually quite used to being slight of stature for a Bantamweight. Quigg also has experience against some tough competition, having gone to the third round with CES 53 headliner Tony Gravely, however Quiggs four wins have all come against guys making their pro debuts, and this isn’t Moutinho’s first rodeo!

Andy Aiello replaces Kody Nordby (3-3) v. Zachary Burhans (3-2)

Andy "The Raging Korean" Aiello
Fighting out of: Massachusetts
Affiliation: Lauzon MMA
Record: 3-3 (2 Knockouts) 
Last fight: Second round loss (Doctor Stoppage) to Chris Canterino at Combat Zone 61.
Zachary Burhans
Fighting out of: Homer, New York
Affiliation: Team Bombsquad  
Record: 3-2 (1 Submission)
Last fight: Second round TKO (Ground and Pound) loss to John Douma at CES 49.
Breakdown: Kody Nordby makes a heroes return to Twin River Casino and the CES cage Friday night after 20 months away from action, during that time Kody served honorably in Iraq and Syria with the United States Army on deployment for nine months and also welcomed his son Odin into the world. Before his absence Nordby was one of the region’s hottest Bantamweights reeling off three straight wins since his tough loss to current UFC Bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath. Kody possesses “other worldly” strength in the grappling department leading to eight wins by submission in his career, he will be looking to add yet another neck to list of victims as he faces off against New York’s Zachary Burhans. CES fans will remember Burhans from his last bout, when he was finished in the second round by fellow Wrestler and Nordby teammate; John Douma. Burhans will be handed yet another tough task by CES MMA brass in Bantamweight contender Kody Nordby, as Burhans hopes to silence the CES crowd and make Nordby’s return one he would like to forget.     

Richie Santiago (6-1) v. Billy Giovanella (9-8)

Richie “The Milford Mauler” Santiago
Fighting out of: Milford, Massachusetts
Affiliation: BST MMA  
Record: 6-1 (6 Submissions)
Last fight: First round Submission (D’arce Choke) loss to Matt Almy at CES 49.
Billy “Wolverine” Giovanella
Fighting out of: Bellingham, Massachusetts
Affiliation: Connors MMA  
Record: 9-8 (3 Knockouts, 4 Submissions)
Last fight: Third round TKO (Punches) loss to Miguel Restrepo at CES NY 1.
Breakdown: Richie Santiago might be coming off the first loss of his professional career but that is not going to stop him from trying to show the world that he is still very much a top prospect in New England’s Flyweight division. Santiago got caught with a body shot early in the first round against Matt Almy at CES 49, a body shot that Santiago would never recover from and suddenly the undefeated submission specialist was no more. Santiago will commence his rise back to the top Friday night when he takes on Veteran New England Flyweight Billy Giovanella. Giovanella has been reeking havoc around New England since 2013 as a professional, compiling 17 professional fights and 9 wins to his credit and seven of those wins have come by stoppage. Giovanella possesses some slick jiu-jitsu and veteran prowess that will drastically supersede that of the upstart Santiago, Billy will be the most experienced fighter Richie has ever faced, but a win over the savvy veteran could be somewhat of a passing of the torch in New England’s talent rich Flyweight division.   

Kody Nordby Replaces Dinis Paiva (9-4) v. Tony Gravely (15-5)
Bantamweight World Title (Vacant)

Kody “The Rhode Island Kid” Nordby
Fighting out of: Cumberland, Rhode Island
Affiliation: Tri-Force  
Record: 9-4 (8 Submission)  
Last fight: First round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of David Baxter at CES 42.
Tony Gravely
Fighting out of: Martinsville, Virginia
Affiliation: Tech Top Team
Record: 15-5 (5 Knockouts, 3 Submissions)
Last fight: Fifth round Knockout of Drako Rodriguez at KOTC: Territorial Conflict.
Breakdown: If there is anyone on the CES roster that deserves to fight for a vacant belt in back to back appearances it is Dinis Paiva. Fighting for the promotion since CES 2 in 2010, Paiva has fought under the CES banner more than any other fighter in the promotions history, (18 times) and has become a fan favorite for his charisma both inside and outside of the cage. Paiva met his most formidable foe to date at CES 50 when he battled Andre Ewell for this same CES Bantamweight belt in a back and forth battle that saw Paiva fall to a third round D’arce choke. Although Paiva will have another shot at glory when the heavy handed southpaw from East Providence welcomes Tony Gravely to the CES cage for the first time. Virginia’s Gravely is the owner of a very respectable 15-5 record over his 20 professional bouts, a wrestler by trade Gravely has also been known to throw some heavy leather leading to five career knockouts. Gravely has faced some tough competition in the past but none nearly as dangerous as “Sweetbread.” I look for Paiva to try and find the chin of Gravely early in this one, in effort to keep from engaging in a grappling war with the wrestler. Dinis, who never lacks in output, will try and overwhelm Gravely with strikes, and forward movement to put the pressure on Gravely and force him to fight off his back foot. If Dinis can establish the center of the cage and use strikes to keep Tony backing up this could be a great night for Paiva and his hometown of Providence, as their native son once again looks to secure the CES Bantamweight strap!