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February 28, 2020



Orono, Maine (February 28, 2020) – New England Fights (NEF) will present its next mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event at the Collins Center for the Arts on the University of Maine’s flagship Orono campus.  The event, titled “NEF 43: Rampage,” will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2020, with a bell-time of 7 pm EDT.  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of an amateur flyweight bout to the card.  Caleb “Dr. Feelgood” Austin (4-0) will face James Ploss (1-2) at a fight weight of 125 pounds.

 The bout will be a rematch of the first fight between Austin and Ploss that took place three years prior in April 2017 at “NEF 28.”  Austin was declared the winner of that first contest, but not without controversy.  Seconds into the first round, Ploss had a tight guillotine choke applied to Austin.  Austin tapped out, but the referee was out of position to see the tap.  Ploss released Austin from the hold, thinking he had won the fight.  The referee, to Ploss’ bewilderment, ordered the fight to continue.  As Ploss tried to make sense of the situation, Austin took him down and finished the fight moments later by technical knockout.

 In the days that followed, many were critical of Austin on social media.  The matter seemed to die down after a few days, only to be brought back to the forefront with a vengeance late last year when former UFC and WEC star Mike Brown (26-9) shared the clip on Twitter as an example of “fighting until the referee tells you to stop.”  Suddenly, the fight received global attention from major online news sources like Bloody Elbow, MMA Junkie, The Athletic, and The Underground.

 The first fight with Ploss was Caleb Austin’s amateur MMA debut.  He was 18-years-old at the time and still a senior at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, Maine.  Austin was a standout wrestler in high school, putting together a record of 208-11 over four years and winning state titles at 126 pounds his junior and senior years.  He was named the 2017 "Wrestler of the Year" by the Lewiston Sun Journal.  After graduation, Austin continued his wrestling career at the University of Southern Maine, but he took the next two years off from MMA competition.  He returned last summer and has won three fights in a row since he made his comeback.  Austin currently represents Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (CMBJJ) in Lewiston, Maine.

 “I’m excited to finally be able to fight James again to gain some closure,” said Austin of the rematch with Ploss. “My MMA debut has haunted me since it happened almost three years ago. I’m thankful to James and his team for giving me this opportunity to get back in there with him. I’ve wanted this for a long time and I promise to make the most of the moment. When I exit the cage this time, it will be without question or controversy—it will end definitively.”

James Ploss went on to fight two more times in 2017 and has not competed since.  He is a member of Greg Williams’ Team Kaze based in Lancaster, New Hampshire.  Like Austin, Ploss will be looking for closure to the outcome of their first encounter.

“I'm grateful for a rematch with Caleb,” said Ploss.  “Reflecting, I have pondered the question, ‘Am I better than Caleb or is he better than me?’ This is the perfect chance to find out—a second chance for us both to give it our all and see who comes out on top giving the fans, MMA community, and both of us the rematch we all want! April 18th, we both test ourselves.”

New England Fights' next mixed-martial-arts event, "NEF 43: Rampage," will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Collins Center for the Arts at UMaine Orono. Tickets are on sale now at