BREWER, Maine — Marcus Davis got a firsthand glimpse of New England Fights’ mixed martial arts promotion in June when he worked in the corner for former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia’s home-state debut at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
That Fight Night III card left a good impression on Davis, and now the Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy gyms he owns in Brewer and Portland will be represented by eight competitors on NEF’s Fight Night IV card on Sept. 8, also in Lewiston.
“I thought they did a good job,” said Davis. “I thought they did a good job as far as taking care of the fighters goes, and I didn’t see last-minute changes or them having to put out a lot of brush fires. I felt like it was a solid effort.”
The Team Irish contingent at Fight Night IV will feature Jon Lemke, who after going 5-0 as an amateur will make his pro debut in a lightweight (155 pounds) bout against Nate Oses of Boston. Oses, 4-2 as an amateur, also will be making his pro debut.
Lemke is ranked second among lightweights in the region by NortheastMMA.net, while Oses is ranked fifth.
“Lemke versus Oses would head any amateur card in the Northeast,” said New England Fights co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. “They’re a couple of fighters with great conditioning that have been known to go deep into the final round.”
Seven amateur fighters from Team Irish also are slated to compete at Fight Night IV: Kris Kramer (1-0), Will McCall (0-0), Tommy Balzano (3-1), Noah Hall (1-1), Andrew Hughes (3-1), Greg Morse (1-1) and Kent Smallwood (0-0).
“I’m excited,” said Garth Krane, Team Irish’s general manager. “Marcus is excited. There was a period in time when you couldn’t even consider thinking about MMA in Maine without hearing about Team Irish. On September 8th we will bring some of the old and new faces and talent. We will ensure that the Team Irish name is a name people associate with MMA and winning. We have something to prove and our guys can’t wait to do it.”
Davis said it was a natural for Team Irish fighters to compete on in-state cards such as Fight Night IV given the gym’s presence in both central and southern Maine.
“Take Jon, for instance, I think all but one of his fights have been out of state,” said Davis. “This gives our guys a chance to fight closer to home.”
Davis, who turned 39 on Friday, began his competitive career in boxing. He is considered a pioneer of mixed martial arts in Maine who was instrumental in helping get the sport legalized in the state in 2009.
Known as “The Irish Hand Grenade,” Davis is 20-9 in his MMA career, which was highlighted by more than four years spent in the top-tier UFC and a top-10 ranking in the welterweight division.
He is scheduled to fight David Bielkheden in a welterweight (170-pound) bout on Oct. 6 in in Malmo, Sweden.
“I’ve been a fan of Marcus Davis for a long, long time,” said Peterson. “To say the man is a legend is a real understatement. To have his team competing for NEF now is a real honor.”
Boetsch named to state wrestling hall of fame
Current UFC middleweight contender Tim Boetsch has been honored for the early stages of his competitive career, recently being inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.
The Lincolnville native, who now lives in Subway, Pa., was a four-time Class B individual state champion while attending Camden-Rockport High School in Rockport as well as a four-time Eastern Maine champion and a two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference titlist.
He finished with a 146-6 career high school record, and placed fourth in his weight class at the National High School Coaches Association Senior National Championships. He also was named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-American team.
Boetsch went on to wrestle collegiately at Lock Haven (Pa.) University before turning his attention to mixed martial arts.
The 31-year-old Boetsch currently is one of the hottest middleweights (185-pound limit) in the UFC, having won four straight fights since dropping down from the light heavyweight (205-pound) ranks.
He most recently earned a decision over Hector Lombard at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, last month to improve his overall record to 15-4 while ending Lombard’s 25-fight unbeaten streak.
Boetsch currently is recovering from a broken foot he suffered during that bout.
Joining Boetsch as members of the MAWA Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are longtime Noble of North Berwick wrestling coach Kip DeVoll and Fryeburg native and nationally recognized coach John Gordon.
DeVoll, a Noble graduate, has been the Knights’ head coach since 1986 and guided the program to 14 Class A state championships — including a run of nine straight from the late 1990s into the 2000s.
Gordon wrestled for Fryeburg Academy and Plymouth State before entering the coaching ranks, in which he was selected as Wrestling USA Magazine’s 2011 National High School Coach of the Year.
His coaching career includes stops at Fryeburg Academy, Dublin (N.H.) High School, New Hampton (N.H.) School and the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa., where his teams won four straight Pennsylvania prep state championships from 2007 to 2010 and finished as the runner-up at the national prep tournament in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Gordon has coached at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Va., for the last two years.