LEWISTON, Maine — While the main event of last weekend’s NEF VII mixed martial arts card at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee was billed in some quarters as Marcus Davis’ final fight in his home state, “The Irish Hand Grenade” isn’t so sure.
In fact, the Bangor resident thinks just the opposite, though that likely will depend on how he fares in the cage while competing under the long-term extension he signed earlier this spring with Bellator MMA, the nation’s second-largest mixed martial arts promotion.
Davis, who fought in Bellator’s first show in Maine on March 21 in Lewiston, is slated to compete this fall in that organization’s eight-man lightweight tournament.
“I think that Bellator, as long as I go out there in that first fight and I start winning and I show them what I can do, is coming back. They already said they were,” said Davis after his three-round unanimous decision victory over Darrius Heyliger at NEF VII.
“(Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney) and I have been on the phone and we’ve talked, and he’s said he’s coming to Maine.”
Davis said Rebney was surprised not only by the 3,000 fans who turned out for the March Bellator card in Lewiston, but by the intensity of the crowd when Davis stepped into the cage at the outset of the nationally televised portion of the card for his welterweight bout against Californian Waachiim Spiritwolf. That fight was ruled a no contest when Spiritwolf did not continue after absorbing an unintentional knee near the groin during the first round.
“(Rebney) said they didn’t know what they really had here and were so shocked when by what happened when they came to the Colisee that they were like, ‘We’re coming back and we’re going to go to a bigger venue,’” said Davis.
“I said, ‘I’ve already got it figured out.’ Bangor’s going to be opening up a venue (the Cross Insurance Center this September) for 8,000 people, and they said, ‘We’re there.’ That was the first thing said, so that will happen.”
That Bellator lightweight tournament guarantees a total of $100,000 in prize money to the fighter who wins the quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches — three bouts in approximately three months. The tournament winner also earns a guaranteed title shot against reigning Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler.
Chandler (11-0) is scheduled to defend his title June 19 in Thackerville, Okla., against Dave Jansen. Jansen earned the title shot by defeating Marcin Held in the most recent Bellator lightweight tournament final held on the March 21 card in Lewiston.
Given the option, Jarod Lawton might have preferred getting off to a quicker start in his last two fights.
But those slow starts just made for more dramatic endings for the Augusta welterweight.
Lawton rallied after losing the first two rounds to “The” Ryan Sanders of Brewer during NEF V last November to score a submission victory via a knee bar with just two seconds left in the three-round bout.
Lawton also lost the first two rounds of his NEF VII bout with Cody Anderson of Billerica, Mass., but again he rallied to win in the final round, this time with a triangle choke hold.
Immediately following the fight Lawton was awarded his black belt in jiu-jitsu in the cage from his instructor, Alexey Pickerell.
“Receiving my black belt after the fight from my instructor was some serious icing on the cake and again I’m glad so many people got to share that with me,” Lawton said. “It’s a new beginning for me with a lot of new challenges that I’m very excited to take on. I look forward to continuing to represent the art that I love so much — and that has done so much for my life — with humbleness and dedication.”
New England Fights now will embark on a busy summer schedule featuring three cards around the state in a little more than two months.
That tripleheader kicks off Friday, July 12, with the first MMA show ever held in Bangor as “Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion” will be held outdoors at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion along the banks of the Penobscot River.
Individual fights haven’t been announced yet, but those expected to compete on the NEF VIII card include Young’s MMA teammates Ray “All Business” Wood and “The” Ryan Sanders as well as popular postal worker John “First Class” Raio of Topsham.
Several bouts are expected to match U.S. fighters against opponents from various eastern Canada MMA hotbeds, including Montreal, Quebec, home of current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
NEF will follow the Bangor show with cards at the Biddeford Arena on August 3 and back at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Sept. 21.
This will mark the second trip to Biddeford for the promotion, which held NEF II there on April 14, 2012.
Among the fighters already slated to appear at NEF IX in Biddeford is Portland amateur Buck “Knuckles” Pineau, who improved his record to 6-2 last weekend with a three-round decision over Allan Josselyn to avenge a three-round loss to the New Hampshire fighter last year.
Pineau will return to the cage in August against Isiah Queen of Rollinsford, N.H., in a battle of two of the top-ranked amateur middleweights in the Northeast.
Eastbrook native and former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia is set to return to the cage May 31 against fellow American Tony Johnson at ONE FC: Rise to Power, a card being held in Bay City, Pasay, Philippines.
Sylvia is 31-8-1 overall and coming off a loss by unanimous decision to a 2008 Olympic gold medalist in judo, Japan’s Satomi Ishi, in Tokyo last New Year’s Eve.
Johnson is 6-1 but hasn’t fought since June 2011.
The 37-year-old Sylvia, who now lives in Bettendorf, Iowa, opted out of his UFC contract in early 2008 but hopes a victory over Johnson might lead to a return to the top-level MMA promotion, where he shares the UFC heavyweight record for most title defenses (three) with five-time champion Randy Couture.
But UFC president Dana White has indicated in the past that a return to his organization is not in the offing for Sylvia.