It’s been an up and down ride for the last 18 months in the regional mixed martial arts scene for Bruce Boyington.
A stunning 10-second knockout of Keegan Hornstra with a taekwondo spinning hook kick back in June 2012 earned the Brewer resident national television exposure and hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits.
But three straight losses ensued, followed by neck surgery.
Now Boyington is on the comeback trail with three wins in four bouts during the last six months, most recently a three-round unanimous decision over highly regarded Devin Powell last Friday at a Coliseum to the Cage promotion in Derry, N.H.
That bout included a change in strategy for the 34-year-old Boyington. Known more for his standup game, the fighter nicknamed “Pretty Boy” relied on ground-and-pound tactics to take early control against Powell, a former top-ranked amateur lightweight in the Northeast who had won his first two professional bouts.
“[Powell] is well respected for his ground game/Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which has been where people have questioned my game in the past,” said Boyington, who trains out of Young’s MMA in Bangor. “I wanted to go into this fight and go right to Devin’s strengths and my alleged weakness to prove otherwise, and I fought three hard rounds with Devin, mostly all on the ground.”
While the 5-foot-9-inch Boyington defeated Powell in a lightweight (155-pound) bout, he plans to compete in what he considers his natural class, featherweight (145 pounds).
Boyington’s next scheduled fight is a featherweight test against popular John “First Class” Raio at NEF XII, the New England Fights-promoted show scheduled for Feb. 8 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
“I like this fight with John,” said Boyington, now 5-6 in his pro career. “I have never felt more confident on implementing my game plan. With that said, I feel bad handing a good man a loss. I like him. I like his fans and all John has done to help MMA grow in Maine.”
Raio, a 1995 high school wrestling state champion from Gardiner Area High School, is coming off his first pro victory, a first-round stoppage of Asa Zorn earlier this fall.
“This is your classic striker versus wrestler matchup,” said NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson.
State middleweight title fight on tap
While the welterweight clash announced earlier this week between Bangor’s Marcus Davis and Brewer’s Ryan Sanders figures to draw most of the attention for the NEF XII show come Feb. 8, the card also will feature the return of Rumford’s Jesse Peterson to the cage.
Peterson, the brother of NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson, will defend his Maine middleweight title against “Ruthless” Mike Zichelle.
Peterson, a 189-pound state high school wrestling champion while attending Mountain Valley of Rumford in 2000, won four of his first six pro MMA matches before taking an extended leave from the sport. He then returned to the cage after a three-year absence in early 2012 and scored two more victories before rallying to defeat Cody Lightfoot to become the state’s first middleweight MMA champion.
Peterson (7-4) subsequently fell to Rhode Island’s Greg Rebello last February in a bid to add the state lightweight title to his resume, then lost his most recent bout by first-round submission to Dave Vitkay during Bellator MMA’s March 21 card in Lewiston.
Zichelle (6-3) of Nashua, N.H., currently is working under a multi-fight contract with NEF MMA, and his last appearance for the promotion came in September when he defeated Oklahoma veteran Jason Anderson via first-round TKO.
Bangor waterfront winner earns UFC reality series berth
Undefeated Canadian fighter Matt DesRoches, who made his American debut in July with a victory on the Bangor waterfront, recently was announced as a cast member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s reality series “TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia.”
Eight middleweights and eight welterweights will be divided into two teams based on their nationalities. Filmed just north of Montreal, the 12-episode season will air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on Fox Sports 1 starting Jan. 15 and will culminate with a three-hour live finale.
DesRoches (4-0) will compete as a welterweight (170 pounds) on the show.