LEWISTON, Maine — The New England Fights mixed martial arts promotion easily may be described as an operation of inclusion.
Frequent cards since February 2012 have given aspiring combatants throughout Maine and beyond the chance to test their true interest in the sport and the subsequent opportunity to pursue that interest on a continuing basis.
This type of chance has led to several fighters achieving championship status within the promotion and popularity that transcends the state’s borders.
All those points of growth will be featured in microcosm when New England Fights stages its 10th show in less than two years Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
New England Fights X promises to be a marathon event. The fight card announced Friday includes 35 bouts, pending final approval by the Combat Sports Authority of Maine, with 14 professional contests and 21 amateur matchups.
The show tentatively is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., but New England Fights co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson said that time could be shifted slightly depending on the final number of bouts. He encouraged fans to check the New England Fights website at www.newenglandfights.com, its Facebook page and Twitter feed regularly for updates.
While the card could change based on training camp injuries, this final event in New England Fights’ “Summer Vacationland Fight Tour” trilogy is on track to surpass the promotion’s biggest previous show, the 30-fight, 7-hour and 20-minute NEF VII held in May at its home base in Lewiston.
“People say it has to be about either quality or quantity,” said Peterson. “We say forget that. With this card the ticket buyer will get both.”
The show features two New England Fights title fights involving combatants nurtured by the promotion.
Undefeated Ray “All Business” Wood (4-0) of Bucksport and Young’s MMA of Bangor will make the first defense of his Maine featherweight crown against fellow undefeated 145-pounder Joe Pingitore (4-0-1) of Rhode Island.
Wood won the title with a first-round stoppage of Canadian Lenny Wheeler on July 12 at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, the first of New England Fights’ three summer shows. A second card was staged earlier this month in Biddeford.
In New England Fights X’s second title fight, Jon Lemke (3-1) of Brewer and Marcus Davis’s Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy meets Massachusetts native and professional lacrosse player John Ortolani (7-7) for the vacant Maine lightweight championship.
Those title fights likely won’t take place until several hours after the start of the first amateur bout, which potentially makes for a lot of down time for the main eventers.
“We take every measure allowable under the rules to accommodate the fighters,” said Peterson. “Report times to locker rooms are later for athletes that are scheduled to compete later in the evening.”
Such accommodations are crucial to helping top-of-the-card combatants remain fresh for their bouts, which often take place between 10 p.m. and midnight.
“It depends on where you are on the card,” said Wood, who also fought at the May show in Lewiston. “If you’re one of the last fights and there’s a long undercard, they’ll let you leave and come back as long as you’re there for the last couple of bouts before your fight. That helps.”
Wood acknowledged that the length of some shows is a reflection of the rapid growth the sport has experienced in Maine — in great part because of New England Fights’ efforts and accessibility.
“You’re seeing gyms growing and new gyms popping up all over the place,” said Wood, who cited the increase of Young’s MMA team from little more than a handful two years ago to approximately 25 competitors today. “I think [New England Fights] is trying to accommodate all the gyms and all the new young fighters out there.”
Young’s MMA has four professional and three amateur fighters slated to compete at New England Fights X, while Team Irish will represented by two pros and seven amateurs.
Other featured professional bouts on the card include Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran and a recent contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, Jimmy Quinlan (3-1), in a middleweight bout against Luc Bondole (2-0); Jarod “Last Minute” Lawton (3-1) of Augusta against Leon Davis (4-2) in the welterweight division; and a featherweight matchup between Damon Owens (1-0) and Josh Parker (4-6).
“From top to bottom, this is the most well-matched card we’ve put on to date,” said Peterson.
145 pounds: Ray Wood 4-0 (Young’s MMA) vs. Joe Pingitore 4-0-1 (New England Combat); 155: John Ortolani 7-7 (Team Triumph) vs. Jon Lemke 3-1 (Team Irish); 185: Mike Zichelle 4-3 (Team Triumph) vs. Jason Anderson 11-30 (A&S Fight Team); Jimmy Quinlan 3-1 (Mass BJJ) vs. Luc Bondole 2-0 (Team Fink); 170: Jarod Lawton 3-1 (Innovative Athletics BJJ) vs. Leon Davis 4-2 (Fighting Arts Academy); Ryan Sanders 4-4 (Young’s MMA) vs. Rashuan Spencer 4-4 (First Coast Full Contact); Ryan Cowette 0-1 (MMAAthletix) vs. Mike Hurlburt 0-2 (Team Triumph BJJ); 155: Jesse Erickson 1-1 (CMBJJ) vs. Babatunde Odumosu 0-1 (Sila Voli); 145: John Raio 0-4 (First Class Fight Team) vs. Asa Zorn 0-3 (Hard Knocks Gym); Josh Parker 4-6 (Independent) vs Damon Owens 1-0 (Young’s MMA); Bruce Boyington 3-5 (Young’s MMA) vs. Walter Smith Cotito 1-2 (Team Triumph); 130: Tommy Balzano 1-1 (Team Irish) vs. Jovan White 0-3 (First Coast Full Contact); 125: Ernesto Ornelas 1-3 (Choi’s) vs. Theo Desjardin 3-7 (Team United Muay Lao); 265: Jason Dolloff 6-17 (Anger Management) vs. TBD
265: Kevin Smith 2-1 (Young’s MMA) vs. Ray Miclette 1-0 (New England Combat); Josh Parr 0-1 (Independent) vs. Dan Randell 0-0 (Fighting Arts Academy); 205: Jeremy Stevens 1-0 (Sipayik Boxing Club) vs. Matt Coolidge 0-0 (CMBJJ); 195: Ramon Saintville 2-0 (CMBJJ) vs. Dan Connaughton 1-0 (Defensive Edge); 185: Mike Vangelist 0-0 (AMMA) vs. Kyle Gauthier 0-0 (Team Lysak’s MMA); 175: Crowsneck Boutin 3-4 (Choi Institute) vs. CJ Ewer 2-0 (Young’s MMA); 170: Brandon Traknis 0-1 (Independent) vs. Nash Roy 0-0 (Young’s MMA); Greg Morse 2-1 (Team Irish) vs. Nick Alley 1-0 (Team Link Hooksett); 155: Dom Cofone 4-1 (Balanced Ground) vs. Mark Graham 3-1 (First Coast Full Contact); Jeremy Tyler 1-1 (Team Irish) vs. Shawn Bang 1-0 (CMBJJ); Jarrod Tyler 0-1 (Team Irish) vs. Nate Charles 1-5 (Balanced Ground MMA); Chris Ouellette 1-0 (Team Irish) vs. Trevor Roberts 0-0 (CMBJJ); 150: Corey Hinkley 0-1 (CMBJJ) vs. Zach Labbay 1-2 (Team Irish); 145: Drew Waltz 1-3 (Young’s MMA) vs. Charlie Stambach 1-0 (Team Irish); Caleb Costello 0-2 (Team Irish) vs. Anthony Parker 0-0 (Team Nitemare); 140: Nick Spencer 3-3 (Choi Institute) vs. Alex Clark 2-0 (CMBJJ); Matt Denning 2-2 (CMBJJ) vs. Cody Sargent 1-3 (Balanced Ground MMA); 135: Erik Nelson 1-1 (CMBJJ) vs Jay Perrin 3-1 (Team Triumph); 125: Jason Bell 0-0 (IABJJ) vs. John Parker 0-2 (Team Nitemare); Dustin Veinott 0-1 (CMBJJ) vs. Mike Brown 1-0 (Independent); Norman Fox 1-0 (MMA Athletix) vs. Nick Mancione 1-1 (Fighting Arts Academy)