DERRY, N.H. — Ray “All Business” Wood of Brewer established himself as the top 145-pound amateur fighter in the Northeast’s mixed martial arts world last weekend — just in time to turn pro.
Wood defeated previously undefeated Sophanarith “Soap” Am of Braintree, Mass., by unanimous decision in one of 11 fights held at Unleashed, an MMA card hosted by the Coliseum to the Cage promotion before 1,000 fans at the SportsZone.
The 23-year-old Wood used the wrestling skills he developed while attending Bucksport High School to win all three rounds against Am, who entered the bout as the top-ranked featherweight (145-pound) amateur by NortheastMMA.net.
“I felt I was in control of the entire fight,” said Wood, now 5-1 in the amateur ranks. “The game plan was to jump on him early to let him know he was in a real fight right away.
“I outwrestled him from the get-go, getting the takedowns and then controlling from the top.”
Am’s record fell to 4-1.
Wood is scheduled to make his professional debut on Nov. 17 at Fight Night V at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston against John “First Class” Raio of Topsham.
The 35-year-old Raio, who also will be making his pro debut, is 4-0 as an amateur, with all of his bouts coming this year on previous Fight Night cards.
“The crowd John brings is big and the crowd I bring is big,” said Wood. “It will be a pretty electrifying scene, I’m sure.”
Three of Wood’s teammates at Young’s MMA in Bangor also appeared on the Unleashed card.
Aaron Lacey made a successful amateur debut, coming from behind to force Jared Laganas to tap out 50 seconds into the third round of their lightweight (155-pound) bout with a triangle choke.
John Cunningham lost his amateur debut to Daniel Phelps on a technical knockout (strikes) at 27 seconds of the first round of their welterweight (170-pound) bout, while Bruce Boyington dropped his pro 145-pound bout to Aaron Petrucelli via a rear-naked choke at 2:26 of the second round.
Two title fights on tap
Among the bouts scheduled to headline the Nov. 17 Fight Night V card will be battles to crown the inaugural Maine State MMA champions in the lightweight and bantamweight divisions as created by the New England Fights promotional group.
The lightweight (155-pound) title fight will match Windham native Jamie Harrison (4-1) against New Yorker Dez Green (5-0), while the clash for the bantamweight (135-pound) crown will feature Portland’s Paul Gorman (9-9) against Adam Toussaint (5-4) of North Berwick.
Harrison and Green advanced to their title shots with semifinal victories at Fight Night IV in Lewiston last month. Green defeated Brewer’s Bruce Boyington via referee stoppage to strikes at 3:39 of the second round, while Harrison earned his spot by submitting Josh Parker of Littlefield’s Gym in Oakland with a rear-naked choke in 1:35 of the first round.
“You have an interesting dynamic in this fight,” said NEF matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson. “Jamie Harrison, while training primarily out of First Coast Full Contact in Florida, has a huge following in Maine with hundreds of friends and family showing up to each of his fights. They are loud and they are unwavering in their support of Jamie. Dez Green and the rest of his teammates in Team Bombsquad out of Ithaca, New York, have established themselves as spoilers for the hometown favorites in Maine, racking up win after win after win on NEF events. This fight has a real ‘home team versus visitors’ feel.”
Gorman had been slated to take on veteran Pedro Gonzalez at Fight Night IV only to have his opponent back out just hours before weigh-ins the day before the fight because Gonzalez couldn’t make weight.
“It’s been a rough few months with a couple of fights falling apart for me, but I feel good about this one and am more motivated than ever to get in there with Toussaint in November,” said Gorman. “It’s an honor to have a chance to fight for Maine’s first bantamweight championship and what better way than to have two Mainers battle it out in front of a hometown crowd.”
Toussaint has gone undefeated in 2012, first defeating Chris Rowley at Fight Night I in February and more recently stopping Johnny “Cupcakes” Campbell in July during a match in which Toussaint was considered the underdog.
“I’m honored to be fighting for the first-ever Maine State bantamweight championship,” said Toussaint. “Years of sacrifice and hard work have gotten me to this point. I look forward to fighting a skilled veteran in Paul Gorman.”