LEWISTON, Maine — As they gear up for New England Fights’ second mixed martial arts show of the year slated for May 18 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, officials with the Maine-based promotion already are making plans for a summertime card.
And they’re asking their fans to determine where it should be held — either in the Bangor area or the southern part of the state.
Fans who order tickets for the upcoming NEF VII show through Monday — at https://ticketing.thecolisee.com/Online/default.asp or by calling the Colisee box office at 207-783-2009, Ext. 525 — are being asked to provide a promotional code of either ‘BANGOR’ or ‘PORTLAND.’ The city that receives the most votes will be the general location of the next NEF card this summer.
“We literally have contracts for multiple venues we’re considering at this point,” said NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson of Rumford. “Now it’s a matter of where the fans want to see us next.”
NEF has hosted six MMA cards since making its debut in February 2012 at the Colisee. The promotion has developed a successful relationship with that facility, with its shows drawing an average of more than 3,000 fans to Lewiston.
In addition, NEF played a promotional role as the California-based Bellator MMA — the nation’s second-largest mixed martial arts organization — brought a nationally televised card to Lewiston last month that also was well attended.
“It’s nice to be in the situation that we have with the Lewiston-Auburn area,” said Peterson, who added that he expects NEF to return to the Colisee later this year. “But we’ve said from day one that we want to take this sport from the top of the state to the bottom of the state.
“We’re super excited about our [May 18] show, but we are definitely looking to do a show either in the Bangor area or in southern Maine.”
Peterson wouldn’t elaborate on specific sites under consideration for the summertime card, but possible Bangor-area locations could include the soon-to-be-opened Cross Insurance Center or along the Bangor waterfront, while southern Maine destinations might include venues in Portland, The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach or the Biddeford Ice Arena, where NEF hosted its “Fight Night II” card on April 14, 2012.
Exactly when that summer show would take place has yet to be determined, though Peterson estimated it would be within three or four months depending on which region and which specific venue is selected.
Another possible factor in the timing is if and when Bellator MMA might want to return to Maine, a possibility its owner, Bjorn Rebney, suggested during the post-fight press conference after the March 21 card in Lewiston.
Peterson said an announcement on the fate of NEF’s summer show is likely to come “in the next couple of weeks.”
Boyington, Lawton ink NEF deals
Brewer’s Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington has signed a multi-fight promotional contract with New England Fights.
Boyington joins Ray “All Business” Wood, Jesse Erickson, Josh Parker and Jarod Lawton as Maine fighters who recently have agreed to what are believed to be three-fight contracts with NEF.
“We’re here to put on a quality product for the fans, but we also want to support the fighters who are that product,” said Peterson. “We want to help put these guys in fights that make sense for their careers incrementally, fights that will help take them to the next level.”
Boyington, who trains out of Young’s MMA in Bangor, had been scheduled to compete for the first time under the new contract at NEF VII on May 18 in Lewiston against Tony Woodman, but Peterson said Thursday that a recent injury and pending surgery has forced Boyington to pull out of that bout.
“Signing with NEF has been a huge blessing knowing that they are the biggest and best promotion in New England,” said Boyington, who competes in the pro lightweight (155 pound) division. “They continue to add new things and grow at a rapid rate. The contract is just an example of things to come and I’m honored to be attached to that.”
Boyington (2-5) began competing in mixed martial arts in 2009 and gained worldwide Internet exposure last June after he executed a perfectly placed jump spinning hook kick that knocked out Keegan Hornstra before he hit the ground just 10 seconds into their NEF bout.
Boyington’s highlight-reel kick subsequently was featured on Spike TV’s “MMA Uncensored Live” and AXS TV’s “MMA Live,” and the YouTube clip of that fight garnered hundreds of thousands of views, with Boyington subsequently winning the “Knockout of the Year” award from NortheastMMA.net.
“Bruce’s record is incredibly deceptive,” said Peterson. “He’s mounted gutsy performances and come up short against guys like Dez Green (8-1) and John ‘Orto’ Ortolani (7-7). When you fight the best, like Bruce has consistently in his career, you’re going to take some losses.
“But what we’ve seen in all of his performances is flashes of brilliance and an enthusiasm to engage. He captured the imaginations of fans worldwide last year when he knocked out Keegan. We’re excited to work with Bruce as he looks to recapture some of that magic in 2013.”
Lawton’s multifight deal with NEF, also announced this week, will kick off at NEF VII though his opponent has not yet been announced.
A Gardiner native and now an Augusta resident, Lawton last competed for NEF in the main event of the promotion’s November 2012 card in Lewiston where he defeated “The” Ryan Sanders of Brewer via knee bar submission with just two seconds remaining in their pro welterweight (170-pound) fight.
The bout won “Fight of the Year” in the NEF 2012 Year-End Awards.
“You couldn’t have scripted a better ending to that fight,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo. “It was such an even fight to that point, and Jarod just didn’t want to ‘leave it up to the judges’ as they say in the game.”
Lawton (2-1) joins what may be the deepest weight class in Maine’s MMA ranks led by reigning Maine State Welterweight Champion Gil de Freitas (11-5).
“With Sanders, de Freitas, Darrius Heyliger and now Marcus Davis all competing in the division, there’s no shortage of tough competitors,” said Peterson. “We’ve already seen Jarod in with Darrius and Sanders, so he’s battle tested and a legit contender for the top spot.”
Bangor’s Davis (21-9) is slated to headline the May 18 NEF VII card against Heyliger (4-1), while the co-main event will match UFC veteran Henry Martinez (9-5) against Windham native Jamie Harrison (4-1) for the Maine State Lightweight Title. Also on the main card, Dexter native Travis “The Showstopper” Bartlett (8-3) is scheduled to face Randy “The Wolf” Smith (14-13-1) for the Maine State Heavyweight Title.