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Every time CES has a card, you get what you pay for and then some. In a night of fights with too many insane battles to analyze adequately, Regional Fight Sports has picked their top 5 fights on the card, and will break down the competitor’s skills, wins, losses and ultimately….make a decision as to who we think will win these sure-to-please scraps. Feel free to agree, disagree and support your fighters and again…as always…all hate-mail, threats and general instances of dissatisfaction with our choices is to be directed at CEO Thomas Evans. WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, LETS GET DOWN TO IT, RFS’s TOP FIVE FOR CES 32 LIVE FROM TWIN RIVER CASINO!

1. James Grant Murrin (3-3) vs. Mak Kelleher (7-18), Featherweight – 145 lb. The unquestioned king of the donnybrook, South Boston’s James Grant Murrin has never failed to put on a fight to get the crowd on its feet. Competitive in every defeat and dominant in all of his victories, Murrin has blended his sublime boxing skills, courtesy of the legendary Peter Welch, into his MMA game flawlessly. Fast footwork, beautiful head-movement and an overhand right that could knockout an elephant, James has never been an individual a fighter should test his chin against. However, he struggled in losses to takedowns and strong top-games, as fighters caught on to the Southie fighter’s KO power. However, reinvigorated and reinvented, a new and improved James Grant Murrin will take the cage against the always-tough Mak Kelleher, with a few new tricks up his sleeve. Murrin has put in countless hours with his ground-work at Broadway Jiu-Jitsu with one of the best coaches around in John Clarke. Additionally, James has developed his striking into a terrifying blend of that crisp boxing and some flashy kickboxing after linking up with one of the most low key, yet most talented coaches in the Boston area, Elias Palacios, one of the local MMA scene's true hidden gems. Between Welch, Clarke and Elias, the new James Murrin should be a real sight to see, and has found the perfect opponent to test his skills against in Kelleher.

No stranger to a barn-burner himself, Kelleher was last seen pushing local stand-out and knockout artist Rico DiScullio to the limit, in a losing effort that did more to show Kelleher’s well rounded skill set than his shortcomings. He had strong takedowns, a strong chin and crisp striking of his own, remaining competitive and aggressive in the face of one of the scariest punchers on the local scene. Kelleher is no day in the park for anyone, and could easily play spoiler to the coming out party of Murrin. I expect a genuine bloodbath between two of the most game fighters in the division, but ultimately see the new and improved James Grant Murrin coming out on top.

PREDICTION – James Grant Murrin def. Mak Kelleher by TKO in the third.

2. Kyle Bochniak (6-0) vs. Taylor Trahan (5-4), Featherweight – 145 lb.

Speaking of Broadway Jiu Jitsu, one of their young killers is back in the cage and looking to make quick work against a genuinely scary opponent. Kyle Bochniak puts his unblemished professional record on the line against submission savvy Taylor Trahan in a bout for featherweight supremacy.

When we last saw Bochniak in the cage, the South Boston fighter punched Dominic Warr into another dimension, putting the stamp on one of the region’s toughest fighters, and launching himself into the discussion of who the next CES vet might be who makes it to the big show. Bochniak has his work cut out for him while standing across from Trahan, a gifted submission fighter in Trahan, who utilizes a stifling top-game and submission threat to choke his opponent out or pick up the dominant decision win. However, he’s fallen on hard times of late, being finished in his last three fights, twice by TKO.

Unfortunately for Trahan, I don’t expect that to change here. Bochniak is confident, athletic, powerful and slick on the mat. His punches are thunderous and his ground game is mean. Training at the shark tank that is Broadway BJJ, there is nothing he hasn’t seen before that Trahan can throw at him, and I expect Bochniak to take his next step toward the big show.

Prediction – Kyle Bochniak def. Taylor Trahan by KO in the first.

3. Kody Nordby vs. Derek Shorey, Bantamweight – 135 lb. One of the best comeback stories in recent years, Kody Nordby comes back to the CES cage fresh off an insane upset victory of surging bantamweight murderer Dinis Paiva and a beautiful submission finish of Jesse Gutierrez, Nordby stormed back from a 3 fight skid to re-establish himself among the region’s top 135 pounders. His wrestling is pretty bare-bones, and extremely effective, and his top game is mean and aggressive. When Nodby gets on top, he usually stays there and locks in the submission.

Shorey is a well-rounded fighter in his own right, who’s proven to be capable wherever the fight takes place. He’s got some heavy hands however, smashing two of his three victories to dust for TKO stoppages, as well as one submission victory for good measure. That said, his struggles have been in Nordby’s wheelhouse. He has two submission defeats, one by arm-bar and one to strikes, two things that are totally possible outcomes if Nordby is able to impose his will and get on top of Shorey. Realistically, I think that’s how this fight will go. Shorey is a good fighter and a great opponent, but Nordby’s grappling is on a higher level at this stage, and I believe that Nordby will do what he does best. Smash Shorey to the mat, ground and pound him and grab a hold of that neck for the submission win. Prediction: Kody Nordby def. Derek Shorey by submission in the second.

4. Gil De Freitas (18-5) vs. Chris Curtis (12-4), Welterweight Championship Fight – 170 lb.

I know, I know, it’s a bit of a cop-out putting a title fight on this list, but this is just a fight that you can’t ignore. On paper, these are easily two of the most talented and accomplished athletes fighting on the card, and I expect that the high level of athleticism and power in both of these men will lead to one hell of a fight. Proud owner of a five fight win streak, including stoppages of Chuck O’Neil and (most recently) Chip Moraza-Pollard, De Freitas has been on an absolute tear through CES’s welterweight elite. The newly crowned champion has killer instinct, slick submissions and thunderous punching power. When Gil is across from the cage from you, you can toss any idea of a strategic chess match out the window….you’re get a fight. A real fight. Gil stalks forward and breaks wills, that’s what got him to an 18-5 record, and that’s what got him the Welterweight crown. He walked through Chip Pollard’s impeccable striking game and landed ferocious punches of his own before scoring a kneebar. He smashed George Sheppard and Chuck O’Neil (now a middleweight) with bone-crunching power. He’s a tough night out for the toughest of men, but then again, so is his opponent.

Owner of a two-fight win streak, as well as an awesome nickname (The Action Man) Cinncinatti’s Chris Curtis is 5-1 in his last six, with two stoppages in that stretch (including a submission to strikes). Very experienced and equally well-rounded as Gil (as evidenced by his 6 stoppages in twelve wins), “The Action Man” will look to use his skillful and powerful striking to put down de Freitas and snatch some Welterweight gold of his own. He’s a good fighter with great experience, and has the tools to defeat the powerful Brazilian on the mat or the feet. That said….I don’t think he’s going to. Gil is the terminator, he comes forward, he takes the shots, and he eventually, gets his hands on his opponent. I see this being a genuine war of attrition between two experienced and skilled fighters, a true championship fight, I just see Gil coming out on top.

Prediction: Gil De Freitas def. Chris Curtis by Unanimous Decision

5. Pat McCrohan (1-0) vs. Mike Rodriguez (2-0), Middleweight Fight – 185 lb.

Last but not least, we got some relatively green fighters meeting in the CES cage to establish some big-man supremacy. McCrohan is a former Cage Titan’s amateur champion, who is fresh off of his first professional win after a standout amateur run. McCrohan is a gritty wrestler with aggressive striking and ferocious ground and pound. His gutsy performance against Shane Mulligan (a sure-fire future pro standout in his own right) was a display of courage and heart not often seen. He fought through triangles, leg kicks, stiff jabs, all while firing powerful right hands and hooks and smashing his way to the takedown, where he returned damage in gusto. He is really coming together as a fighter as well. Turning from wrestler with a hard punch and into a full blown mixed martial artist, I expect big things from the collegiate wrestler in the future regardless of the outcome of the fight.

To complete the gritty wrestler vs. slick striker match-up comes Mike Rodriguez, a hard punching Muay Thai wrecking ball with a reputation for knocking out opponents. Battering the always tough Ralph Johnson and Stephen Stengel, Rodriguez flashed brilliance with his kicks and straight punches, blasting the ferociously powerful Johnson to the mat and flattening Stengel for a finish with the same punch. However, I have yet to see Rodriguez fight a grappler of McCrohan’s caliber, which can be concerning.

While I don’t doubt that Rodriguez could easily finish his fight early with one of those monster punches, I am going to bet on the grittiness of McCrohan hear. He’s got a hell of a chin and an aggressive style that will either play perfectly into Rodriguez’s hands, or end up a long night for Michael. I believe it will be the latter. I see McCrohan using his wrestling to get the striker to the mat and punishing him from the top for the stoppage after a fun first round on the feet.

Prediction: McCrohan def. Rodriguez by TKO in the second.

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