LEWISTON, Maine — The lineup has been announced for Fight Night III, the state’s third mixed martial arts card of the year, scheduled for Saturday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Eastbrook native and two-time former UFC heavyweight champion Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia (30-7) will headline the show as he makes his home-state debut against Bellator veteran Randy “The Wolf” Smith (14-10-1), while Dexter native Travis “The Showstopper” Bartlett will square off against former NFL player Tyler King in another heavyweight bout.
“This card really crosses the spectrum between the ‘old guard’ and the next generation,” said New England Fights co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. “We have brand new fighters featured to open the night and a former world champion in the main event.
“Tim Sylvia is a trailblazer of Maine MMA — he was the first great Vacationland fighter who was forced to leave the state to train and pursue a career elsewhere because his passion wasn’t legal here yet. So to see the evolution of MMA in Maine come full circle in a fighter’s journey like Tim Sylvia’s — a guy who was forced to leave to chase his dream and can now come back home to compete — is wonderful to watch unfold.”
Sylvia and Bartlett are among numerous Pine Tree State connections in the 18 fights that have been announced.
Among the other six professional bouts on the card, “The” Ryan Sanders of Brewer will attempt to rebound from his first loss in a welterweight (170-pound) clash against Ray “Relentless” Shawdee of Lowell, Mass.
Sanders (3-1) dropped a narrow unanimous decision to Mike Winters of Ithaca, N.Y., at Fight Night II in Biddeford on April 14, while Shawdee also is 3-1 after a first-round knockout of Brandon Cyr in Salem, N.H., on Jan. 27.
“Shawdee looks tough,” Sanders said. “He has good hands and a pretty good ground game. His sub defense looks solid too. I think this fight will have some big fireworks.”
Bruce Boyington, a teammate of Sanders’ at Young’s MMA in Brewer, will be after his third straight victory when the Milford native takes on Bridgton’s Keegan Hornstra (0-3) in a 155-pound bout. Boyington (2-2) is coming off a second-round technical knockout of Pat Early at Plymouth, Mass., on March 17, while Hornstra lost to Jamie Harrison in a first-round TKO at Fight Night II.
Josh Bellows and Josh Parker, both fighting out of Littlefield’s Gym in Oakland, also will be involved in pro bouts.
Parker (2-4) will face Chris Ramos (0-3) out of the Central New York MMA at 155 pounds while Bellows will make his pro debut in a 170-pound fight against Ryan Cowette, operator of the MMAathletix gym in Brunswick.
Cowette also is making his pro debut after once being the top-ranked amateur in the region at 185 pounds by Northeastmma.net.
Among the 10 amateur bouts scheduled, one matchup will feature Gardiner native John “First Class” Raio against Dover-Foxcroft native Derek Shorey in a 145-pound clash.
Both Raio and Shorey are former Maine high school wrestling champions, Raio for Gardiner High School in 1996 and Shorey while at Foxcroft Academy in 2000.
Raio, representing MMAathletix, is 2-0 with victories at both Fight Night I at Lewiston on Feb. 11 and at Fight Night II, when he scored a unanimous decision over Erik Nelson.
Shorey (2-4) now lives in Berwick and fights out of Bill Jones’ Shop in Somersworth, N.H., and is coming off a first-round TKO victory by arm bar over Nate Fenech at Fight Night II.
Also scheduled is a women’s amateur 130-pound bout between Maria Rios (1-0) of The Academy of Mixed Martial Arts in Portland and Kylie Christine of CNY MMA.
“Putting together a card of epic proportions like this with 20-plus fights is a lot like trying to assemble a 3D, geometric jigsaw puzzle that is constantly in motion,” Peterson said. “You fit together a couple of pieces over here but meanwhile the two pieces that you made match over there have since slid apart and wandered off, so now you have to leave what you’re doing to fix that fight that just came undone.
“It’s a very dynamic process that requires a great deal of organization and strong sets of relationships to pull off. And you never end up at the end of the process with the same card that you began with. The only constant is change in this game. It’s demanding, but incredibly rewarding to work with such great coaches and athletes like we have here in Maine.”