LEWISTON, Maine — Such is the adrenaline rush for mixed martial arts competitors during their bout that Aaron Lacey was unaware he had suffered an apparent broken right hand Saturday night until he used it to strike his way to victory.
Lacey scored a three-round unanimous decision over Dom Cofone in one of the featured amateur bouts on the NEF XIII mixed martial arts card at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, then went to a local hospital to learn the extent of his injury..
Lacey (4-1) won all three rounds — and the third most convincingly — in bouncing back from his only loss, a three-round decision to unbeaten Matt Tullos in Salem, New Hampshire on April 4.
Cofone (4-4) of Windham tried to keep the bout, fought at a catchweight of 150 pounds, at close quarters to capitalize on his wrestling background. But Lacey was more effective at creating space for his striking game early despite suffering the apparent broken hand in the first round.
Cofone scored takedowns at the start and end of the second round, but Lacey’s stand-up game dominated most of the round. Then it was Lacey who scored a takedown early in the third round and spent the remainder of the bout attacking from back control.
The Lacey-Cofone bout was one of 10 amateur contests on the 15-fight card that was to be headlined by a battle for the NEF Maine state welterweight championship between Gil de Freitas and “The” Ryan Sanders.
Their fight was a rematch of a battle for the title nearly two years ago, when de Freitas, a Brazilian now fighting out of Ludlow, Massachusetts, scored a five-round unanimous decision victory over Sanders, a Brewer resident who trains at Young’s MMA of Bangor.
De Freitas (15-5) has fought just once since that victory, while Sanders (6-4) used a victory over former UFC contender Marcus Davis earlier this year to earn his return match with de Freitas.
The NEF XIII undercard also marked a big night for the Bang family of Auburn.
Steven Bang, fighting out of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, improved his record to 3-1 with a third-round stoppage of Winterport’s Jeremy Tyler in their lightweight amateur bout.
Bang’s younger brother Sheldon — still a senior at Edward Little High School in Auburn — was a winner in his MMA debut as he scored a unanimous decision over Carl Langston.
Steven Bang took control of his bout against Tyler in the second round after escaping a guillotine choke-hold attempt by his Team Irish opponent. Bang gained front control and then back control to close out the second round, then scored a quick takedown in the final three-minute round before ending the fight with a rear naked choke 54 seconds into the period.
The loss ended a four-fight winning streak for Tyler, now 4-2.
Sheldon Bang, Maine’s 2014 Class A 132-pound high school wrestling state champion, used his grappling expertise to offset Langston’s striking and kicking. Bang scored takedowns to control the action in the first and third rounds while Langston won the middle round with a succession of strikes and kicks.
Meanwhile, Tyler’s older brother Jarrod Tyler scored his second straight victory with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Jason LaChance in their 155-pound bout.
Tyler (2-1) used his upper-body strength to control the first two rounds, registering several takedowns that proved crucial to the victory as LaChance rallied with some powerful kicks to win the final round.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for the Team Irish fighter.
Zach Elkins of Fleming Island, Florida, scored perhaps the biggest win among the amateur bouts with a first-round stoppage of Ashland native Buck “Knuckles” Pineau of the Choi Institute of Portland.
Pineau (7-3) entered the bout as the top-ranked amateur middleweight in New England, but Elkins (12-5) punched his way to a technical knockout at 1:25 of the opening round.
Lubec native Crowsneck Boutin, a regular on NEF cards, improved his amateur record to 5-6 with a one-punch knockout of Dan Connaghton at 42 seconds of the first round. The two 190-pounders were battling for position early in the round when Boutin, now fighting out of the Choi Institute, connected with a short right hand that ended the bout almost immediately.
Dustin Veinott of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Auburn also scored a one-punch knockout in his 125-pound bout against Dan Thayer of the Choi Institute. Veinott’s fight-ender was a left hand to the chin of a retreating Thayer just 25 seconds into the match.
And Norman Fox of MMA Athletix in Brunswick improved his record to 3-0, stopping Mike Brown of the North Shore (Massachusetts) Muay Thai Academy with a guillotine choke at 2:04 of the opening round.