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July 3, 2023



Portland, Maine (June 29, 2023) – New England Fights returns to Merrill Auditorium in Portland with its next mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event, “NEF 53: American Valor,” on Saturday, July 8, 2023.  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of a professional lightweight bout to the card.  Matt “Ken Doll” Denning (8-18) will meet Artur Minev (0-0) at a fight weight of 155 pounds.

Matt Denning is a longtime veteran of the NEF cage with a career dating back to 2013.  Seven of his eight wins as a professional have come with the promotion.  Denning’s most recent appearance with NEF took place last November when he vanquished rival Carl Langston (2-9) by submission in the first round of a long-awaited grudge match.  He represents Denning’s MMA.

“I use to have a fire burning inside me to fight,” said Denning. “I lost that for some time. I’ve got that fire back now. I want more than just a fight, I wanna show how skilled I am, how blessed I am to be able to compete still with all the hardships that interfere with people living their dreams. I’m ready for a war.”

The fight will feature the pro debut for Artur Minev.  He is the reigning NEF Amateur Lightweight Champion, having impressively defeated Zach Faulkner by first-round submission last month at “NEF 52” to claim the title.  Minev is a perfect 3-0 as an amateur since his debut last December.  A native of Ukraine, Minev currently represents Defensive Edge Martial Arts based in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

“This is my first step in professional MMA and I'm ready,” declared Minev.  “I train hard every day. I have a goal and I'm going to it. I am motivated and determined to win. Follow my fights!”

“NEF 53: American Valor” takes place on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine.  Doors are scheduled to open at 6 pm with first fight taking place at 7 pm.  Tickets to “NEF 53” are available now at