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September 5, 2019

NEF 40: School of Hard Knocks Preview

Josh Harvey v. Dominic Jones

Travis Lizotte

Orono, Maine - Saturday, September 7th, New England Fights will be taking New England MMA fans back to school as Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo present NEF 40: School of Hard Knocks live from the Collins Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono. The promotion will roll out a stacked 17 fight card, including 14 Amateur bouts (one title fight) as well as three professional contests highlighted by a main event Catchweight bout between Undefeated, current NEF Featherweight Champion; Josh “Hook On” Harvey (6-0-1) and Dominic “Domination” Jones (2-1). NEF 40 will also return fan favorite; Ras “The Jamican Shamrock” Hylton (4-2) as he continues to climb back into title consideration and welcomes Golden Gloves boxer Chris Sarro (Pro Debut) to the cage for the very first time. Local favorite and hometown fighter Fred Lear (0-1) looks to capture his first professional win as he welcomes a winless Tommy Kenney (Pro Debut) to the NEF cage for his first promotional visit.
The fourteen fight Amateur undercard is highlighted by NEF Featherweight Champion Tom “ The Phenom” Pagliarulo (3-1) as he defends his title for the very first time against Young’s MMA’s Jimmy Jackson (4-3). Pagliarulo captured the vacant belt in April with a huge Unanimous Decision win over Zac Richard at NEF 38: Stormborn and has been eager to defend his title ever since, he gets that chance Saturday against a tough customer in Jimmy Jackson. Speaking of Zac “Rocky” Richard (3-2-1), Richard will be looking to bounce back, off back to back losses, against Pagliarulo for the NEF Featherweight Title and then to Miguel Cuevas on short notice for the Reality Fighting Featherweight strap, as he matches wits with Young’s MMA’s Erik Tainter (0-1) who returns to action for the first time since 2012. Also highlighted on the Amateur card Saturday night will be NEF Women’s Amateur Flyweight Champion; Glory Watson (5-0) as she makes her Strawweight debut against Canada’s Lin MacMillan (0-1). Amateur Lightweight and “Rookie of the Year” contender Nate “The Great” White (2-0) returns to action on just a weeks notice to tangle with First Class MMA’s Ryan Savage (0-1). And three fight veterans Devin Corson (2-1) and Jacob Deppmeyer (1-1-1) throw down at Lightweight. 
Stay tuned to Saturday night for live results as they we see them from our seats cage side, with opening bell due to sound at 7pm from the heart of the UMaine campus for NEF 40: “School of Hard Knocks.” For Tickets visit

*Below is the full fight card and fight breakdown for NEF 40: “School of Hard Knocks”   

Justin Kangas (0-1, First Class MMA) v. Nathaniel Grimard (Debut, Nostos)
Amateur Bantamweight

Justin Philbrook (0-2, Independent) v. Dylan Williams (0-1, Independant)
Amateur Middleweight

Mike Murray (1-0, Camden Combat/ The Foundry) v. Jordan Crim (1-0, United Fighting Arts)             
Amateur Lightweight  

Taylor Bartlett (1-2-1, CMBJJ) v. Randall Hathorn (Debut, Combative Martial Arts)
Amateur Featherweight

Cory Cochran (Debut, Rumford Hardcore) v. Jordan Young (2-2, Independant)
Amateur 140 lb. Catchweight

Ben Murtiff (1-0, First Class MMA) v. Henry Jeffs (0-1, Independant)
Amateur Light-Heavyweight

Glory Watson (5-0, Young’s MMA) v. Lin MacMillan (0-1, Spartan Striking)
Amateur Women’s Strawweight

Breakdown: Don’t let the pretty face fool you Glory Watson has made her name in the fight game by fighting her style of fight and that style is; ugly. Glory employes an in your face, fast paced fight wherever the fight takes place, willing to test herself in all aspects of her game. Formally a Flyweight, and having fought as high as 140 pounds during her career, Watson will be making her Strawweight (115 lbs.) debut in this bout as she welcomes Canada’s Lin MacMillan to the New England scene for the first time. 

Ryan Savage (0-1, First Class MMA) v. Nate White (2-0, CMBJJ)
Amateur Lightweight

Breakdown: Central Maine BJJ’s Nate White has finished both of his opponents since coming on to the scene at NEF 38: Stormborn in April, quickly launching himself into NEF “Rookie of the Year” contention. White looks to further his campaign Saturday against First Class MMA’s Ryan Savage, who will be looking to bounce back off a loss to Arii Fernandez, also at NEF 38.

Jason Landry (2-0, Team Landry) v. Mike Bezanson (2-0, Kaze)
Amateur Welterweight

Breakdown: The 38 year old Jason Landry will be making his third straight appearance inside the NEF cage, having dispatched Justin Boraczek and Dan Seigars in under three minutes combined. He welcomes the return of Mike Bezanson from Kaze Dojo, who owns a 2-0 record with two finishes of his own in the NEF cage, where he has not competed in over three years.   

Dillon Henry (0-2, First Class MMA) v. Steve Desjardins (4-3, Independant)
Amateur 130 lb. Catchweight

Breakdown: First Class MMA’s Dillon Henry looks every bit the part of a future contender, a physical specimen at Bantamweight, but Henry has run into tough competition in his first two amateur bouts having fallen victim to submissions in both. Henry will welcome back Steve Desjardins who will be making his first appearance in 5 years, almost to the day, since his Split-Decision win against Erik Nelson at NEF 14. This will be a good test for both fighters to see where they are at in their careers, and what changes must be made moving forward.

Caleb “Dr. Feelgood” Austin (1-0, CMBJJ) v. Cory Richards (Debut, Acadia BJJ)
Amateur Flyweight

Breakdown: Central Maine BJJ’s Caleb Austin came into his amateur debut as a skilled wrestler and came out a Knockout artist, after a one sided drubbing of James Plass at NEF 28: Invincible. Austin will be looking to string together impressive performances as he welcomes Acadia BJJ’s Cory Richards in his amateur debut.  

Erik Tainter (0-1, Young’s MMA) v. Zac “Rocky” Richard (3-2-1, Nostos)
Amateur Lightweight

Breakdown: Still a top prospect in the eyes of many, Nostos’ Zac “Rocky” Richard has made no mistake about his disdain for losing, as he looks to avenge back-to-back title fight losses and put his name back into title contention, this time as a Lightweight. After wiping the canvas with his first three opponents as an Amateur, Zac is just 0-2-1 in his last three fights as he looks at a bout with Young’s MMA’s Erik Tainter to get back to his winning ways. Tainter steps up on short notice to replace Brandon Sewall (0-1) who suffered an injury late in camp and was forced to pull out of the bout. Tainter has not fought since a Submission loss to Will McCall at Fight Night MMA 4 in his Amateur debut in September of 2012, and will have a tall task ahead of him in his return against former title challenger; Richard. I look for Richard to return to his dominant form in this bout, and use his wrestling to neutralize any sort of threat Tainter may offer. 

Jacob Deppmeyer (1-1-1, First Class MMA) v. Devin Corson (2-1, The Outlet)
Amateur Lightweight

Breakdown: The Outlet’s Devin Corson has shown flashes of greatness in his two unanimous decision victories inside the NEF cage, displaying a wrestling heavy game that tends to wear on his opponents. The former Foxcroft Academy standout Wrestler; Corson looks to translate his dominant wrestling game into his first career finish Saturday night against First Class MMA’s Jacob Deppmeyer. Deppmeyer has looked his best when he can work his lengthy striking from the outside, striking that translated into a knockout finish of Glenn Kasabian in the first round at NEF 28: Invincible. Deppmeyer will likely not be looking to grapple with Corson in this one but as we have seen in the past Corson will force the grappling game on to anyone!  

Jimmy Jackson (4-3, Young’s MMA) v. ©Tom Pagliarulo (3-1, Sperro’s/ Burgess)
*Amateur Featherweight Title*

Breakdown: NEF Amateur Featherweight Champion Tom “The Phenom” Pagliarulo is living the life of a seasoned professional. Training partners with both the UFC’s Rob Font and Calvin Kattar, Pagliarulo sharpens his tools with some of the baddest dudes on the east coast. Pagliarulo relies heavily on a strong wrestling background which helped him immensely in his capturing of the title against fellow wrestler Zac Richard in April at NEF 38: Stormborn and will likely be his key to victory over Challenger; Jimmy Jackson. In four career wins Jackson has notched three of them by submission and will undoubtedly look to threaten Pagliarulo’s title reign with some slick submission work, but the ground really belongs to the Champion in this one. I see the Champion dictating the pace of this fight with his grappling and heavy top pressure, I believe it will take a mistake by Pagliarulo for Jackson to unseat him as Champion.  

Fred Lear (0-1) v. Tommy Kenney (Debut)
Pro Bantamweight

Fred “The Wolfman” Lear
Fighting out of: Bangor, Maine
Affiliation: Young’s MMA
Record: 0-1 (6-2-1 as an Amateur)
Last fight: Second round Submission (Guillotine Choke) loss to Bryant Bullock at NEF 38: Stormborn.
Tommy Kenney
Fighting out of: Rutland, Vermont
Affiliation: Team Irish Beasts 
Record: 0-0 (0-2 in Amateur MMA, 0-8 Overall)
Last fight: First round Submission (Guillotine Choke) loss to Kreaton Crouse at Whitehall Athletic Club.
Breakdown: On top of being one of the nicest guys to deal with in all of New England, Bangor’s Lear is quite a talented mixed martial artist and a household name to fans of New England Fights. Lear is looking to get back on track after a mistake cost him his professional debut at NEF 38: Stormborn against a tough kid in Bryant Bullock. Lear will admittedly take a step back in preparations for Saturday’s matchup against the winless but hungry; Tommy Kenney. Kenney is the veteran of eight fights across different disciplines in his career, including two MMA bouts both having come at the amateur level. There is no doubt that Kenney will be standing across from the toughest opponent of his career as Lear looks to notch his first professional victory, emphatically, in his own backyard! 

Ras Hylton (4-2) v. Chris Sarro (Debut)
Pro Cruiserweight

“Rasquatch” Ras “The Jamacian Shamrock” Hylton 
Fighting out of: South Portland, Maine
Affiliation: First Class MMA/ Dragon Fire  
Record: 4-2 (4 Knockouts) 
Last fight: First round TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) of Charles Penn Jr. at NEF 38: Stormborn.  
Chris Sarro
Fighting out of: Ellsworth, Maine
Affiliation: Acadia BJJ
Record: 0-0 (7-1 as Amateur Boxer)
Last fight: This will be Sarro’s first competition MMA experience following a successful amateur boxing career.
Breakdown: First Class MMA’s Ras Hylton has shown that at 6’7”, the power in his hands is capable of shutting out the lights on any man who signs to share the cage with him. Hylton added his fourth career Knockout last time out as he left a bludgeoned Charles Penn Jr. face down in the NEF cage at NEF 38: Stormborn. The man they call “Rasquatch” looks to continue his climb up the ladder of New England big men as he welcomes former boxer Chris Sarro to the sport of MMA.  It will be interesting to see how the boxing of Sarro translates into the sport of MMA and how effectively he can use his striking against the lengthy Hylton, it will play to Sarro’s benefit if he can get inside on the 6’7” Hylton and work short punches to the body.  This fight will be equally as interesting if it hits the canvas, Hylton looked to have trouble on the ground earlier in his career but has shown improvement in that area over his last few fights, Sarro is a Golden Gloves Boxing Champion and is known for his stand up, but has been training with Acadia BJJ for this camp and should come in a more well rounded fighter than just any boxer. With a lot of unknown coming out of Sarro’s camp it is hard to predict how this fight is going to play out, but I am sure these guys will look to test each others chins very early!

Dominic Jones (2-1) v. Josh Harvey (6-0-1)
Pro 160 lb. Catchweight
Dominic “Domination” Jones
Fighting out of: Auburn, Maine
Affiliation: Independant 
Record: 2-1 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)
Last fight: First round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Keegan Hornstra at NEF 39: All American. 
Josh “Hook On” Harvey
Fighting out of: Bangor, Maine
Affiliation: Vision Quest Muay Thai
Record: 6-0-1 (2 Knockouts, 4 Submissions)
Last fight: First round Submission (Arm Lock) of Bill Jones at NEF 37: Sub Zero.
Breakdown: To call the reigning NEF Featherweight Champion Josh Harvey a “Top Prospect” is almost a discredit to what the 29 year old has accomplished over the course of his already illustrious career. In 13 fights across both his professional and amateur careers Harvey has tasted defeat just once, at Combat Zone 51 against Contender Series vet and fellow prospect Dylan Lockard in 2014 as an amateur and on short notice. Harvey looks to expand upon his impressive nine fight, five year winning streak as he puts his unblemished professional record on the line against three fight NEF veteran Dominic Jones. After three fights inside the NEF cage Auburn’s Jones has yet to see a second round, scoring finishes of both Tollison Lewis and Keegan Hornstra on his way up the NEF Lightweight division ladder. Jones will be stepping up on short notice to replace Ricky Dexter, a former teammate of Harvey’s, to take what will undoubtedly be the toughest fight of his career against what has been an all out dominant Josh Harvey. Both fighters come into this fight with strong grappling backgrounds, however, I see Harvey being a problem for Jones on the ground, Harvey is extremely strong for his size and has excellent top pressure that translates into 4 career submission finishes. On the feet Dominic will need to stay away from Harvey’s power, if Jones can be tactical and get in and out on his combinations without summoning that power, he may have some success. If this fight comes down to a battle of physical strength it could be a short night for Jones as Harvey is a stick of dynamite just itching to explode!