BANGOR, Maine -– The first mixed martial arts card to be held in Bangor not only will be a homecoming of sorts for Ray “All Business” Wood but the opportunity to win a championship.
The undefeated Bucksport native, who trains out of Young’s MMA on outer Hammond Street, will fight Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, native Lenny “The Show Stealer” Wheeler for the New England Fights featherweight (145-pound) title as part of the promotion’s “Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion” card on Friday, July 12, at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
“Fighting for the NEF featherweight title in front of my home crowd on the Bangor waterfront is a dream come true,” said Wood. “I’m excited to take that next step in my career. Adding a title to my resume will just prove I am a top contender in the New England 145-pound division.”
Wood is 3-0 since turning pro last November, including his most recent victory by second-round submission over Ahsan Abdullah last month at NEF VII in Lewiston.
“Ray Wood earned this opportunity to fight for a championship the old-fashioned way: through hard work and determination,” said NEF promoter and co-owner Nick DiSalvo. “When it came time to crown our featherweight champion, we knew Ray would be one of the guys vying for it. He’s at the peak of his game physically and skill-wise right now and promises to put on the type of cage performance in Bangor that he has become famous for — all business all the time.”
Wheeler, who fights out of Wulfrun MMA on Prince Edward Island, is 6-2 and has not lost in more than two years.
Wheeler dropped down in weight to post the biggest win of his career in his most recent fight last Nov. 23 in Edmonton, Alberta, a first-round submission by guillotine choke over Adam Lorenz, at the time ranked sixth nationally among Canadian featherweights.
While Wood was a standout wrestler during his high school days, Wheeler had a boxing background before turning to mixed martial arts seven years ago.
“Ray Wood is more than ready for this challenge after having closed out his amateur career as the universally recognized No. 1 featherweight in the Northeast and remaining perfect at his weight as a professional,” said NEF matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson. “However, Lenny Wheeler is coming to fight and will be Wood’s stiffest test to date.”
“Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion” is the first of three New England Fights cards scheduled in the state this summer. Also planned is an Aug. 3 show at the Biddeford Arena, followed by a return to the promotion’s home base at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on Sept. 21.
NEF champ Rebello retires
New England Fights also has a sudden vacancy to fill in the light-heavyweight division after the promotion’s title-holder in the 205-pound class, Greg Rebello of Providence, R.I., recently announced his retirement, according to NortheastMMA.net.
Rebello won the NEF crown by stopping Rumford’s Jesse Peterson in the second round of their scheduled five-round title fight in early February.
But after the former Bellator MMA competitor lost a split decision to Lewis Rumsey at the Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on June 7 Rebello decided to end his eight-year mixed martial arts career.
Rebello, who turned 31 on Thursday, finished his career with a 15-5 professional record.
Sylvia drops Philippines battle
Eastbrook native Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia’s bid for a sought-after return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise took a hit recently when he lost to fellow American Tony Johnson by a doctor’s stoppage on One FC 9 card in Pasay City, the Philippines.
According to most reports, Johnson was ahead in the fight when he landed an elbow that opened a gash on Sylvia’s forehead, leading to the fight being stopped at 3:25 of the third round.
Johnson improved his record to 7-1, while the 37-year-old Sylvia — a two-time former UFC heavyweight champion — fell to 31-9 with one no contest after suffering his second straight defeat.