Bruce Boyington’s mixed martial arts career has had its highs and lows.
One low moment for the Brewer resident fighting out of Young’s MMA in Bangor came in his most recent bout, a Feb. 8 clash in Lewiston against John “First Class” Raio.
Raio won that fight by a rear-naked choke submission, but according to Boyington and press reports from the New England Fights promotion that staged that NEF XII card, many cageside observers felt the referee mistook a hand signal from Boyington as a tapout.
Boyington has maintained he was merely trying to indicate that he was able to keep fighting despite Raio’s submission attempt.
“I know what happened that night,” he said. “Everyone knows what happened.”
That loss may have complicated the potential for Boyington to fight for the Maine state lightweight championship this spring, but the fighter known as “Pretty Boy” will still get the chance to experience a high point of his career Saturday night when he battles Ruslan Khubejashvili for the Cage FX lightweight title at the Dorchester Armory in Massachusetts.
“I have a relationship with CFX,” said the 34-year-old Boyington, who fought his first two professional bouts under that Massachusetts promotion’s banner in 2009, the same year mixed martial arts was legalized in Maine. “And at this point in my career, I have to look out for myself, that’s all this is about.”
Boyington, who has fought seven times on New England Fights cards, said he looks forward to fighting for the Maine-based NEF again in the near future, but that the immediate chance to win a title belt was too good to pass up.
The 1998 Old Town High School graduate is not without previous experience in the championship arena. Boyington was part of NEF’s lightweight tournament in September 2012 but lost his semifinal by second-round technical knockout to New Yorker Desmond Green. Green went on to win the NEF crown before vacating it last year to sign with the upper-echelon Bellator MMA.
Boyington (5-7) was scheduled to battle Bellator MMA veteran Saul “The Spider” Almeida (14-5) of Framingham, Mass., for the Cage FX title, but Almeida pulled out of the bout within the last few days for health issues. He has been replaced by Khubejashvili, who is 2-0 since turning professional last December.
Both of Khubejashvili’s wins have come by unanimous decision, most recently over 44-year-old Dominic Warr of Allston, Mass., during a Feb. 21 bout in Boxborough, Mass.
“He’s an up-and-comer,” said Boyington. “He’s well regarded for having such a short pro career so far. He’s strong and strong willed. He looks to come out and fight.”
This will mark the first time either combatant has been in a bout that could extend to the championship maximum of five five-minute rounds.
Both of Khubejashvili’s pro fights went three full rounds, or 15 minutes, while just one of Boyington’s 12 pro fights has lasted three full rounds, a split-decision victory over Devin Powell of South Berwick on a Dec. 6 card in Derry, N.H.
The potential for going five rounds may play into a fight strategy slightly more conservative than Boyington’s typically aggressive, high-risk, high-reward style.
“I don’t want to make it a dull fight, but I have to pace myself,” he said. “But I’m prepared for five rounds. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”
Young’s fighters split Combat Zone 48 bouts
Two amateur fighters from Young’s MMA in Bangor were in action last Friday night on the “Combat Zone 48: All or Nothing” show held at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H.
Aaron Lacey of Bangor fought Matt “The Paperboy” Tullos of Dedham, Mass., in a battle of undefeated featherweights. Tullos, making his first appearance in the cage since October 2012, improved his record to 6-0 by defeating Lacy by a three-round unanimous decision.
Tullos entered the match as the No. 2-ranked amateur 145-pound fighter in New England, while Lacey was ranked seventh.
Lacey, who had sent his first three opponents to first career defeats, fell to 3-1 but is scheduled to return to the cage at NEF XIII on May 10 in Lewiston against Dom Cofone (4-3) of Westbrook.
Josh Harvey, a two-time Class C wrestling state champion from Dexter Regional High School in 2007 and 2008, made a successful amateur MMA debut at Combat Zone 48. He scored a three-round unanimous decision over Michael Fagan of Lawrence, Mass., in the 145-pound bout.