LEWISTON, Maine — Jesse Peterson’s quest for a second New England Fights state mixed martial arts championship came up short Saturday night, as veteran Greg Rebello of Providence, R.I., stopped the Rumford native in the second round of their scheduled five-round light heavyweight title fight.
The bout was the main event of Fight Night VI, which was held in front of an estimated crowd of 2,300 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Peterson, already the NEF’s middleweight (185-pound) champion, secured the first takedown of the match early in the first round, but Rebello was the dominant presence for the rest of the bout.
He gained top position midway through the first five-minute round and delivered a series of left-hand strikes that turned the momentum in his favor.
Rebello then landed a knee to Peterson’s chest early in the second round that sent his opponent back against the cage. Rebello then pressed the attack, taking Peterson to the ground and unleashing a barrage of punches with both hands that led referee Kevin MacDonald to stop the fight at 48 seconds of the round.
Rebello, the new NEF light-heavyweight champion, is now 15-5, while Peterson falls to 7-3.
Earlier in the evening, Lincoln native Brandon Bushaw made the most of his latest return to Maine from his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., winning a unanimous decision over Cody Sargent of Portsmouth, N.H., in their 140-pound bout, one of 11 amateur fights on the card.
“I love fighting up here. Maine has a big place in my heart,” said Bushaw, a two-time state wrestling champion while at Westbrook High School during the late 1990s.
Like many of the fighters on the NEF circuit, the 31-year-old Bushaw — who with his wife owns a restaurant in Myrtle Beach — didn’t expect to have a second chance at a competitive athletic career until he discovered mixed martial arts.
“I wrestled in college at Michigan State, but I took most of my twenties off,” said Bushaw, who was among 18 people from South Carolina who made the trip to Maine. “I started training about two years ago. I heard from Jamie Harrison, who lives in Florida and fights up here, and I went down to see him and fought in Jacksonville, Florida, and I caught the bug, I guess.
“It’s the hardest thing to hang them up, and then you’re out of the fold for five or six years and you get back into the gym and get back into shape and realize there’s a market for it now and somebody 30 years old can still go out and compete. You hear people cheer your name after you figured that ended when you hung up your wrestling shoes. It’s awesome.”
Bushaw controlled all three rounds of his bout against Sargent while improving his record to 5-2. Two judges scored the fight 30-27 under the 10-point system, with the third judge scoring it 30-25.
“Cody’s a tough kid, but I came out and wanted to finish it because last time I fought to a decision,” said Bushaw, whose first MMA trip to Maine late last year produced a similar decision victory over Portland’s Nick Spencer. “But I think you learn a lot going to a decision, especially as an amateur. I’m happy with the way it turned out, and I’m happy to get another win in Maine.”
Bushaw plans to turn pro later this year.
“I’d love to come up here and fight as a pro but, of course, I want to fight in front of the people in Myrtle Beach and South Carolina who can’t get afford to take time off,” he said. “And then just see where it leads.”
Among the other 10 amateur fights on the card, Erin Cooney of Scituate, Mass., scored a technical knockout over Angela Theriault of Oxford Hills Karate in the lone women’s bout of the evening.
Cooney, who entered the cage to “She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones, quickly pinned her opponent against the side of the cage, then after taking Theriault down unleashed a flurry of left- and right-hand strikes that prompted the fight to be stopped at 1:45 of the first round.
In another top amateur matchup, Jesse Erickson of Auburn mproved his record to 4-2 with a first-round TKO victory via strikes over Aubrey Rion, who trains with Bushaw at Fitness Edge MMA in Myrtle Beach, S.C..
“I felt strong,” said Erickson. “I felt like I technically knew what I was supposed to do in every position. I implemented my game plan and was able to get the win.”
Other winners in amateur bouts included Steven Bang and Conner Murphy of Auburn, Lubec’s Crowsneck Boutin, Steve Sobel of Young’s MMA of Bangor, Brandon Gibbs of Durham and New Hampshire fighters Vovka Clay, Jay Perrin and John Healey.
Pro winners preceding the main event were Mike Sullivan of Nashua, N.H., Josh Parker of Skowhegan, Luc Bondale of Huntington Beach, Ca., and Tony Woodman of Sanford, who scored a technical knockout via strikes over John “First Class” Raio of Gardiner at 4:35 of the second round of their 150-pound bout.