June 24, 2018
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Two title bouts highlight NEF XI mixed martial arts card Saturday

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

LEWISTON, Maine — Two championship fights headline the state’s final mixed martial arts card of the year, NEF XI, at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday night.

Portland’s Paul Gorman will defend his Maine bantamweight title against Tateki Matsuda of Boston in the main event, while two-sport professional John Ortolani of Billerica, Mass., will take on Tony Christodoulou for the vacant Maine lightweight championship.

Those bouts cap off a 16-fight card featuring five professional matches and 11 amateur contests. The show is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Gorman (10-9) won the bantamweight title last November with a second-round submission of Adam Toussaint at NEF V, also in Lewiston. Matsuda (8-4) is a veteran of both Bellator and the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Ortolani, also a professional lacrosse player, originally was scheduled to fight for the lightweight crown in September until his scheduled opponent, Jon Lemke, pulled out of the bout on the day of the weigh-ins.

The title bout against Christodoulou (8-4) will be their second meeting, as Ortolani won via a doctor’s stoppage due to a cut suffered by Christodoulou when they squared off in Milford, N.H., in July 2010.

“The first time we fought, Tony took the fight on a couple day’s notice,” said Ortolani during a recent New England Fights MMA Podcast interview. “He’s had a lot of good training time since the last time we fought. I’m really excited to see how this goes with him having a full fight camp and both of us being much better fighters than we were before.”

Ortolani and Christodoulou will battle for the title vacated by Desmond Green, who has gone on to compete for Bellator MMA.

Other pro fights at NEF XI are a battle of heavyweights Josh Watson and Ryan Hodge, a 160-pound bout between Jesse Erickson and Ryan Cowette, and a 150-pound matchup between Bruce Boyington of Young’s MMA in Bangor and Josh Parker.

Among the amateur bouts, C.J. Ewer of Young’s MMA and Caleb Hall of Dixfield each will try to improve his record to 4-0, with Ewer facing Wayne Ahlquist (2-5) and Hall squaring off against 1-0 Aaron Lacey, another of the six Young’s MMA fighters on the card.

Jeremy Tyler (2-1) of Winterport and Brewer’s Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy will seek his third straight victory in a 160-pound bout against veteran Tollison Lewis, while another anticipated matchup features featherweights Dom Cofone (4-2) and Vovka Clay (5-2).

A women’s bout between Portland’s Maria Rios (3-1) and Shannon Harney (2-2) also is scheduled.

MMA Notes: Desmond Green, the former NEF lightweight champion, lost his Bellator MMA debut on Sept. 13 in the first round of that organization’s fall featherweight tournament but rebounded with a second-round stoppage of Angelo Sanchez in Rio Rancho, N.M., on Oct. 25. Green is now 10-2 overall, 1-1 in Bellator … A stablemate of Green at Team Bombsquad in upstate New York, Ahsan Abdullah hopes to improve on his 5-3 professional record in his Bellator debut, a lightweight bout against Mike Bannon (4-1) on Nov. 22 at Bethlehem, Pa. Abdullah’s record includes two losses to Bucksport’s Ray Wood, one as a professional and one as an amateur. Wood, the NEF Maine lightweight champion, currently is rehabilitating after undergoing knee surgery last month. … Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy, who stopped Bangor’s Marcus Davis in the first round of their Bellator MMA fall lightweight tournament bout in late September, will take on Will Brooks for that tournament title on Nov. 22. The 24-year-old Russian fighter stopped Ricardo Tirloni in just 66 seconds of their semifinal via triangle choke to advance to the final and improve his professional record to 25-1. The Sarnavskiy-Brooks fight will be televised live on Spike TV.

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