LEWISTON, Maine — Bucksport native Ray “All Business” Wood has signed a multifight promotional contract with the Maine-based New England Fights promotion to continue his mixed martial arts career.
While specifics of the contract were undisclosed, the deal is believed to include a minimum of three fights to help develop Wood’s career.
“It’s no coincidence that Ray is our first signing to a full promotional contract,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo. “[Co-owner and NEF matchmaker] Matt [Peterson] and I are certain that not only will he get to the next level with one of the two major promotions [UFC and Bellator], but that he will actually thrive at that level.”
Wood, who trains at Young’s MMA in Bangor, rose to the No. 1 ranking in the Northeast’s amateur featherweight (145-pound) division thanks to a 5-1 record before he turned pro last fall.
He has won his first two pro fights, defeating John “First Class” Raio on an NEF card at Lewiston last Nov. 17 and Walter Smith Cotito at Salem. N.H. on March 1.
“I feel it’s a great opportunity to sign a three-fight deal with the fastest-growing promotion in New England,” said Wood. “NEF has put on some great shows in 2012. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Wood is slated to fight for the first time under his NEF contract on May 18 against Anthony Loycano (1-3) of North Andover, Mass., at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
“Don’t let Loycano’s record fool you,” said Peterson. “He had a stellar amateur career, and since going pro, he’s faced a very high level of competition. This fight is going to be a real test for Ray.”
Loycano turned pro after going 4-1 as an amateur. He is coming off a first-round submission victory over Keegan Hornstra on Feb. 15 at Derry, N.H.
“The fight with Anthony Loycano is a fight that makes sense right now,” said Wood. “I’m certainly not saying I’m going to walk through this guy, but I feel the odds are in our favor. I have seen his fights and he appears to be a one-dimensional fighter. I have more tools to win this fight.”
The NEF VII card on May 18 in Lewiston currently features 10 professional and more than 30 amateur bouts, with the main event scheduled to feature Maine MMA legend Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (21-9) battling up-and-coming Darrius Heyliger (4-1) of Team Bombsquad in upstate New York.
The co-main event will match UFC veteran Henry Martinez (9-5) against Windham native Jamie Harrison (4-1) for the NEF Maine State Lightweight Title, while also on the main card is a battle for the NEF Maine State Heavyweight Title between Dexter native Travis “The Showstopper” Bartlett (8-3) and Randy “The Wolf” Smith (14-13-1).
A middleweight rematch between Buck “Knuckles” Pineau of Portland and Allan Josselyn of Jefferson, N.H., will highlight the amateur portion of the NEF VII card.
Josselyn (5-1) edged Pineau (5-2) in a three-round unanimous decision when they fought in Lewiston last September in a bout that nearly ended in the opening seconds of the match when Pineau caught Josselyn with a damaging head kick and then went to the mat for some follow-up ground-and-pound tactics.
But Josselyn withstood the flurry, won a close second round and then gained control in the third round to secure the victory by a 29-28 count of each of the three judges’ scorecards.
“The last time we fought it was an entertaining fight,” said Josselyn. “I want the fans to be entertained even more this time — hopefully another fight of the night.”
Of six Maine-based fighters to appear on the recent Bellator 93 mixed martial arts card in Lewiston, only Brewer’s Jon Lemke emerged victorious.
Lemke, competing in the lightweight (155-pound) division, scored a first-round technical knockout of Auburn’s Jesse Erickson in the opening bout of the night.
“This was a huge opportunity to do what I love to do, and to do it at the highest level,” Lemke said after the fight. “It doesn’t get any higher than this. The UFC and Bellator are right up there, man, so this is just awesome.”
Lemke, an MMA practitioner for the last four years, scored several early strikes as the fight began, then withstood a flurry from Erickson with his back to the cage before regaining control, first with some damaging knee kicks and then a left-hand strike that knocked Erickson down.
Lemke followed up with a flurry of punches that prompted referee John English to halt the proceedings at 2:50 of the five-minute round.
“I felt a little flat at first and he landed some good strikes,” said Lemke. “I didn’t really expect him to stand there and trade with me, I thought he’d rush me and try to take me down.”
Lemke said his maturity in the cage may have been an additional asset against the 25-year-old Erickson, who was making his pro debut after compiling a 4-2 amateur record.
“I’m 34 years old and have been through life experiences,” said Lemke, who hopes to fight again on the May 18 NEF card in Lewiston.
“I’ve been down, I’ve had nothing and I’ve come back from that. This is what I love to do, and I’m very confident in my training, who I train with and my own abilities in this sport.”