BANGOR, Maine — Ray “All Business” Wood, who was scheduled to make the first defense of his New England Fights Maine featherweight championship next month, will be sidelined from mixed martial arts indefinitely after being diagnosed this week with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The injury is believed to have taken place July 12 when the Bucksport product won the title with a first-round stoppage of Canadian Lenny Wheeler at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, according to Ernie Fitch, co-owner and manager of Young’s MMA in Bangor, Wood’s training base.
“He was really amped up for that fight because he was fighting for the title and it was in his home town,” said Fitch. “But after the fight he said his knee was sore.”
Wood, 4-0 as a professional, had remained active in the gym preparing for a scheduled Sept. 21 title defense against undefeated 145-pounder Joe Pingitore (4-0-1) of Providence, R.I., at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
But Fitch said Wood recently complained that more than a month after the July bout his right knee was still ailing.
“Ray had been training on it right along,” said Fitch. “He wasn’t doing a lot of jumping but he was doing his other work. He felt like his knee got a little better for a while, but when it didn’t get any better after that he decided to go see a doctor.”
A subsequent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam revealed the ACL tear as well as some minor fractures, Fitch said.
“The ACL wasn’t even attached,” he said.
Fitch said Wood planned to see a specialist soon to discuss his options.
In typical cases, the rehabilitation period after ACL surgery can take nine months or longer, which could halt Wood’s burgeoning MMA career until mid-2014.
“It’s too bad because Ray had really built up some momentum, everybody wanted to see him fight,” said Fitch.
Wood has been a popular and successful figure on the New England circuit, having competed in five of NEF’s 10 shows since that Maine-based promotion made its debut in February 2012.
Wood fought twice as an amateur on New England Fights cards as well as three times in his first four professional fights.
The bout against Pingitore was the scheduled main event of NEF X, the final event in New England Fights’ “Summer Vacationland Fight Tour” trilogy that included the July show in Bangor and an Aug. 3 card in Biddeford.
“It’s disappointing because it had all the promise of a great fight, but injuries are part of the game,” said NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo in a press release announcing the postponement of the bout.
“The Wood-Pingitore fight will happen in the future. When exactly that will be depends on the extent of Ray’s injury and a recovery time frame. NEF wishes Ray a speedy recovery, and we look forward to seeing him back in the cage soon.”
DiSalvo said the original NEF X co-main event between Brewer’s Jon Lemke (3-1) and John Ortolani (7-7) for the vacant Maine lightweight (155-pound) championship would be bumped up to main-event status while a featured welterweight contest between Jarod Lawton (3-1) and Leon Davis (4-2) would become the co-main event.