NEF FIGHTS PREVIEW
Regional Fight Sports
Written by Mike Strazzere and RFS Staff
I think Co-owner and matchmaker, Matt Peterson, summed this show up best when he told me "This will undoubtedly be the biggest show in the history of Maine MMA and will be the show to be at. That's not promoter talk. The crowd and quality of fights will dictate it on Saturday night."
The NEF's 12th installment, which starts at 7 pm, promises nothing but fireworks, culminating in the biggest and most influential fight Maine has ever seen between Marcus Davis and Ryan Sanders. The whole main card is beautifully matched littered with fight of the night candidates that could certainly go either way.
Aside from the big main event, Billerica Ma. native, John Ortolani will take on BJJ black belt and Maine's own Jarod Lawton. The Maine middleweight title will be on the line when two veterans of local MMA square off. Leominster MA. Native Mikey Zichelle will make the trek to Lewiston to take on the hometown boy and defending champion, Jesse Peterson.
Rounding out the pro card will be an intra-state battle between two very respected and longtime NEF signed fighters in Bruce Boyington and John Raio. Ryan Cowette will be looking for his second win in a row and Jesse Erickson will be welcoming to the pro ranks the durable and always game, Tollison Lewis.
The amateur version of the card is highlighted by Team Irish's Tyler brothers and undefeated Young's prospects Aaron Lacey and Kevin Smith. All the best teams in Maine will be represented on this card. The electricity in the building should hit an all-time high! This is a truly a can't miss show!!!
170 lbs Main Event:
"The" Ryan Sanders (5-4) Youngs MMA vs Marcus "The Irish Hand Grenade" Davis (22-10) Team Irish
This is the fight Maine fans, NEF, Team Irish and Young's MMA members have been dreaming about. Unless you have been to NEF shows or are really up on your local MMA I don't think you can understand how big this fight is in Maine. Whatever the angle to take on this fight student against teacher, battle of the two top gyms in Maine, or the two best 170 lb fighters in Maine. One thing is for sure, this fight is HUGE! There is no love loss in this one and it is ALL REAL. This is not about just promoting a fight. If you want to see the amazing full story in it's entirety go to newenglandfights.com and check out the several press releases!
Ryan comes in as the obvious underdog by many. The thought by most is that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain as he is fighting a 15 fight UFC veteran in Davis. We caught up with Ryan yesterday and he assured us he was ready. "I am excited for this fight. I feel physically and mentally great. I am looking forward to showing off my skills and all the hard work that I have put in for this fight. I have a huge opportunity and I am going to prove a lot of people that this is my time."
Young's head coach Chris Young expressed that Ryan thrives on being an underdog but the Ryan that everyone has seen would struggle to beat Marcus. He told us "We have a new Ryan on our hands that my coaches know is there and always has been, fans just haven't seen yet. Unfortunately for Marcus we are going to see that Ryan come Feb. 8th."
Co-owner and manager of Young's, Ernie Fitch, let us know Ryan has never trained harder and he will prove it Feb 8th.
So, as you can see Ryan and his team are not going into this fight to lay down and coronate Marcus as the king of Maine. Ryan has a top notch ground game and cardio for days. He's very mentally tough and very confident. His striking is still an unknown and will most likely play a HUGE part in this fight. We personally do NOT believe there is no pressure on this young man. We feel like a win would be HUGE for him and his team and a loss would be crushing, even if he is the proverbial "underdog".
Enter opponent, Marcus Davis. Marcus, hailed as the Irish Hand grenade for obvious reasons, he has been the face of Maine MMA for years. Davis went from a very successful pro boxer to honing his Muay Thai skills at the legendary Sityodtong under Mark Dellagrotte. Along the way Marcus developed an extremely strong submission game and very powerful wrestling. He has trained with, and fought, the best at the highest level of the UFC. As the owner of Team Irish, where Sanders began his MMA career, he will be representing his whole team for this one. As if he is not hungry enough, Marcus is coming off a loss at Bellator in the LW tournament and should get a huge boost in fighting in front of so many of his loyal hometown fans.
Marcus has expressed the need to win this fight convincingly and the confidence to do just that. Many have agreed with him and feel this may be a mismatch. That Marcus is simply to strong and experienced for the younger smaller Sanders. Opinions have flowed onto social media creating a great divide in the teams and the team’s fans. The tension in the Androscoggin Arena right before the cage door closes will be unmatched by any local fight in recent history.
Make NO mistake these teams do not like each other as a whole, however, the two teams have vowed to hash out their differences after this score is settled. That is a very nice sentiment but until then, it's war! Only one fighter and one team will come out on top February 8th, who will it be?!
185 lbs Co-main event: Maine Middleweight Title
"Ruthless" Mikey Zichelle III (6-3) Team Triumph vs Jesse Peterson (7-4) CMBJJ
This fight will be quite the appetizer for the main meal. The coveted Maine title will be on the line as these two long time veterans clash in a very evenly matched battle. This fight promises to be extremely fast paced and exciting!
"Ruthless" comes in as the outsider and underdog but he let us know he is having none of it when he expressed to us. "I know I am fighting the hometown guy and the owner of the company’s brother who happens to also be their middleweight champion. I know exactly why I am being brought in. There are a lot of other tough 185 lb. guys and they could have picked anyone, but they didn't, they picked me. I trained so hard for this fight the last 11 weeks. It has been all I did and I am going to shock a lot of people, most importantly my opponent. He's going to be very shocked at the improvements I have made at Triumph. I have improved so much"
Mikey has always been a fan favorite but has admittedly been sometimes handed opponents by other promotions. Since he has started training with Triumph he has stated he wants the best fighters in the cage to test him. He is as tough as they come and has certainly improved in every aspect in the last year. He is coming to win this fight in brutal fashion, wherever it goes.
Jesse comes in as the hometown favorite and a very deserving NEF middleweight champion. He has great wrestling and tons of heart, which was put on display when he came from behind to win the belt from the highly ranked Cody Lightfoot over a year ago. Now he is back to defend it and prove he is still amongst the top 5 185 lb. fighters around. Surely, Jesse will look to take this one to the ground early and often. If he is successful in doing this it will be a tough night for Zichelle.
This is definitely a crossroads fight for both of these guys. The winner will not only take the title but will be right up at the top of the heap at 185. Both guys are excellent role models and have an allegiance of fans so this one will get LOUD!!!
John Ortolani (7-8) Team Triumph vs Jarod Lawton (3-1) New England United
This fight matches on of the toughest and most athletic fighters around in Ortolani, facing one of the most skilled ground guys around in Lawton. Ortolani is no slouch on the ground and Lawton, by all accounts, has really improved his standup. This is yet another GREAT matchup!
It seems that Ortolani may need to keep it standing but, as his record shows he does not like to back down from challenges! It wouldn't be all that surprising to see Ortolani attempt to take him down and do what teammate, Cody Anderson and main event fighter, Ryan Sanders couldn't do, survive the last minutes of fights they were winning. One would think Ortolani has the advantage striking and if it stays standing he should be ok.
Lawton, on the other hand, is probably the best finisher in Maine. He has battled through punches, chokes, ground and pound and come out on top 3 fights in a row. Many think he is strictly a BJJ guy but word has it he is ever evolving and VERY dangerous everywhere now.
Once again both fighters will have very big crowds at the event and the electricity will be very high for this fight. Much respect to both guys for taking this fight. This will definitely be one the fans will enjoy!
Bruce "Pretty Boy" Boyington (5-6) Youngs MMA vs John "First Class" Raio (1-4) First Class MMA
This fight is about as contrasting in styles as you can get. On one hand you have Tae Kwon Do black belt Bruce Boyinton, who has possibly the most dangerous kicks in all of local MMA. Across the cage you have the tough veteran wrestler, John Raio.
Bruce is coming off a huge win over BJJ ace Devin Powell and is most likely confident he can win anywhere. The smart thing to do would be to stuff takedowns and control the fight standing, more than likely leading to a KO victory. For Raio, successful takedowns and top control is his only chance. He has shown great heart and will and seems the type of fighter to go through hell to get a takedown. We think Raio may have to in order to win this one.
Once again look for this building to ROCK when these two square off as they are two of the biggest draws in Maine!! I can't believe these tickets start at $25!!!!
Rounding out the pro card is MMA Athletix owner Ryan Cowette looking for his second straight win and fan favorite Jesse "The Viking" Erickson will look to get back on the winning track against the debuting and VERY durable Tollison Lewis.
This card promises to be one of the best and most important cards in the already rich history of Maine MMA. If you are a fan of MMA and live anywhere near Maine I HIGHLY suggest don’t let the snow stop you and go check it out!!!
Below is the remaining fight card: