June 20, 2018
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Ex-UFC champ Tim Sylvia poised for return to Maine; Travis Bartlett bout called off

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

LEWISTON, Maine — Former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia has a few goals remaining in his mixed martial arts career.

One will be realized Saturday night, when the Eastbrook native fights in his home state for the first time in the main event of Fight Night III at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

The 36-year-old Sylvia (30-7 with 19 knockouts and four submissions) will clash with New York’s Randy “The Wolf” Smith (14-10-1 with seven knockouts and two submissions), a regular on the Northeast regional circuit.

New England Fights co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson is anticipating a crowd of more than 3,000 for the fight card, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

“I’ve seen a little bit of [Smith] on YouTube,” said the 6-foot-8, 265-pound Sylvia. “He’s a tough kid and he likes to stand and bang. And that’s going to be a recipe for disaster for him because I’m going to smash him.”

Sylvia, now based with Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa, is 6-1 in his last seven fights but said he is not taking Smith lightly.

“I’m not looking at him as a stepping stone,” said Sylvia, a 13-year mixed martial arts veteran. “I’m looking at him as a guy who wants a big name on his record with me being the victim. That’s not happening.”

Sylvia has been lobbying in recent months for a return to the top-tier Ultimate Fighting Championship, which he left with one fight remaining on his contract in 2008 to sign with a rival and now-defunct organization, Affliction.

UFC president Dana White, a Hermon High School graduate, subsequently said there is no chance of Sylvia returning to his organization, but talk of the possibility persists.

“There’s nothing factual about any of those rumors at the moment, but if it happens then great,” said Sylvia. “I’m ready and willing to fight anyone.”

Medical issue sidelines Bartlett

The scheduled heavyweight bout featuring Dexter native Travis “The Showstopper” Bartlett and former NFL player Tyler King has been dropped as a co-feature to the Sylvia-Smith headliner at Fight Night III because Bartlett was unable to gain medical clearance this week because of fluid in his lungs, according to Peterson.

“He’s extremely upset,” said Peterson in an email Friday. “[Bartlett] sought multiple opinions from multiple doctors, but none would give him the green light. We’re certainly disappointed to lose such a marquee fight so close to Fight Night, but are confident in Sanders-Shawdee giving us an incredible co-main event.”

The card’s co-main event now will feature Brewer’s “The” Ryan Sanders (3-1) against Ray “Relentless” Shawdee (3-1) of Lowell, Mass., in a 170-pound clash.

Broadcast deal announced for Fight Night III

Fight Night III participants will get some national exposure thanks to a broadcast deal between the card’s promoter, New England Fights, and Tuff TV.

The agreement calls for a series of weekly, hour-long episodes to air beginning in mid- to late July on Tuff TV, which is broadcast to nearly 35 million homes in the United States.

While the network does not currently have an affiliate in Maine, the Fight Night III episodes will be available to Pine Tree State mixed martial arts fans at www.NewEnglandFights.com shortly after their initial runs on Tuff TV.

“We hope the deal with Tuff TV opens many doors for the fighters as far as sponsorships go, as well as getting fights in other parts of the country and maybe even landing some of them contracts with one of the three big promotions,” said Peterson. “That’s the point here.”

The deal was brokered by NEF director of media Peter Czymbor, whose NESports TV will produce the programming.

“This isn’t a paid programming spot,” said Czymbor. “This isn’t a regional cable sports network. This isn’t a Web-based streaming channel. This isn’t just highlights of our main event on an MMA news show. This is a U.S.-based, national television network that will be airing every fight on this card.

“This is just the first of what we hope will be many national broadcasts to come on Tuff TV.”

UFC’s Boetsch gets new opponent

First the date was changed for Tim Boetsch’s next Ultimate Fighting Championship bout, from UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7 to UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, on July 21.

Now the Lincolnville native and middleweight contender has a new opponent for that fight in UFC newcomer Hector Lombard.

Boetsch, the UFC’s sixth-ranked middleweight, originally was scheduled to meet fourth-ranked Michael Bisping at UFC 149, but Bisping recently underwent knee surgery and will be sidelined for the next few weeks.

Lombard, a former Bellator champion with an overall record of 31-2 with one no decision, was supposed to make his UFC debut against Brian Stann in the main event of the Aug. 4 UFC on Fox card. But when Stann suffered a separated shoulder Lombard was left without an opponent — setting up a bout against Boetsch, a former four-time state wrestling champion while at Camden-Rockport High School.

The 31-year-old Boetsch, 15-4 overall, is 3-0 since dropping from light heavyweight to the middleweight (185-pound) division, including a victory earlier this year against fellow contender Yushin Okami in Japan.

Lombard hasn’t lost in his last 25 fights, a run that dates to November 2006.

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