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January 9, 2020


Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington said all it took was an opponent with an established name in mixed martial arts to get him back into the New England Fights cage for “NEF 42: Symphony of Destruction” on Saturday, February 8 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine.

Names in the esteemed regional promotion don’t get much bigger or more polarizing than that of Josh “The Fluke” Grispi, with whom Boyington will battle for the vacant NEF lightweight championship.
Grispi (14-5), once the number-one-ranked contender to the world featherweight title in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is set to compete in the MMA cage for the first time since February 2013.

“When you talk about somebody who was the number-one contender in the world, that's the kind of fight you take no matter where or when it is, regardless of where he's been the past five or six years or what he's done,” said Boyington. That's a fight that intrigues me, and at this point in my career I want something that's intriguing.”

Aside from being Massachusetts native Grispi’s first fight in seven years, it’s also a crossroads clash where the timing could be right for Bangor-based Boyington to re-stake his claim as one of the preeminent lightweights in New England.

Boyington (17-11) hasn’t lost in any of his occasional appearances with NEF since 2015, a streak that includes four wins and a no-contest. His current three-fight winning streak includes a victory over Taylor Trahan at NEF 32 for his last showcase with the promotion in February 2018.
Championship success in his home state furnished opportunities for Boyington on the road with the likes of national promotion World Series of Fighting (now known as “Professional Fighters League”).  Boyington’s most recent bout was a split decision verdict over Dan Dubuque on May 31, 2019, in a world title bout in Connecticut.

“It's exciting to be back with the promotion that sort of groomed me and made me a lot of who I am. I mainly wanted to fight Josh Grispi. That’s a big name to be thrown around in any promotion,” Boyington said. “I'm always excited to fight for Matt (Peterson), Nick (DiSalvo) and NEF and be close to home, but it had to be the right opportunity.”
Grispi was 14-1 and in line to fight Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title in 2010 when Aldo was forced to withdraw due to injury. Instead, Grispi took a fight with Dustin Poirier, and the unanimous decision loss began his descent on the ladder.

Grispi suffered a series of additional defeats between 2011 and 2013.. Boyington brushes off the fact that his opponent hasn’t won in the cage for nearly a decade by lauding Grispi’s fighting acumen, but he added that MMA is a different game now than the one in which he enjoyed the meteoric rise.
“I don’t think he'll be a whole lot different from where he was. I’m sure he has been in the gym this whole time, and you know he’s training now the way he always did,” Boyington said. “However, it's a different day and age in MMA and in the UFC. Fighters have evolved, and I think that's going to come through in this fight.

“He's an old-school fighter, and he's tough, but I definitely don't think he's going to out-grapple me, and I don't think he's any better than I am at striking or punching. I think you could kind of see the beginning of that when he was still in the UFC. He was on a little bit of a losing streak there. It might have been catching up with him.”

An opponent of Grispi’s caliber is nothing new in the NEF arena for Boyington, whose lengthy dance card includes battles with Des Green, John Ortolani, Jamie Harrison, Jesse Erickson, Jimmy Davidson and many others.

It’s a who’s-who that helped NEF gain a foothold as a dominant promotion in its corner of the country while also giving Boyington the chance to expand his horizons.
“There have been some guys I've fought who maybe now you can look back and say their record isn't that good, but at the time they were the biggest fight available, and those are the fights I want,” Boyington said. “If I ever took a fight with a guy who had a losing record, it was when I was coming off surgery and just wanted to fight. Most of the time I want the biggest and most exciting fight I can get, and Matt has always done a good job with that for me.”

NEF fighters have ranged from 18-year-old newcomers to the weathered, wily likes of Pat Kelly and Garry Carr in their 50s. In that respect, Boyington’s recent milestone birthday shouldn’t raise any eyebrows.

Still, the veteran performer knows even his ardent supporters wonder how long he’ll stay in the spotlight. He made it clear they shouldn’t plan the farewell tour anytime soon.
“It's a weird place where people look at my age and they assume any fight could be my last,” Boyington said. “I'm just as good as I was when I was younger, if not better. Even being on a winning streak like right now, I don't believe in going out on top like that. I'm still right in the mix. I'm active and involved in fighting every day. Change is what motivates me. Long as there's a big fight, I'll always take it.”
None have been bigger in a while, at least in terms of main event and name appeal, than Boyington vs. Grispi.

Boyington wisely knows he will be representing more than just his well-developed fighting reputation and personality in the hexagon at a new, exciting NEF venue.

“It's a chance for me to go in there and be a voice for a lot of people,” he said. “There's risk in doing that. I'm putting a target on my back. It puts a lot of pressure on me. It's a lot easier before a fight to be able to shake a guy's hand and say, 'Let's have a good fight’ and come at it from a place of respect.”

 “Hopefully it doesn't bite me in the butt, but I want to get in there and knock him out,” Boyington said. “I'm kind of tired of decisions and submissions. I miss that feeling of knocking somebody out.”

Tickets are available now at  More information on the event and fight card can be found at