BANGOR, Maine — The first mixed martial arts card to be held in the Queen City will have a local flavor, with 16 fighters from two area training centers among the combatants on New England Fights’ “Nations Collide: Canadian Invasion” show set for Friday, July 12, at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
Ten professional bouts and 12 amateur contests have been scheduled, with 10 fighters from Marcus Davis’ Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer and Westbrook and six competitors from Young’s MMA in Bangor slated to step into the cage.
“It’s no secret that shows like these are heavily dependent on having local talent,” said Matt Peterson, co-owner and matchmaker of New England Fights, which is promoting the event in conjunction with Waterfront Concerts.
“And there are probably no two bigger teams around right now than Team Irish and Young’s MMA. Both have a lot of pull in the area.”
Peterson and NEF co-owner Nick DiSalvo hope such local interest will drive ticket sales in their promotion’s first foray into the eastern and northern Maine market as well as its first outdoor show.
So far, so good, says Peterson.
“Ticket sales have been going well, the response has been really strong so far,” he said. “Everyone seems pretty jazzed about having a mixed martial arts show in Bangor.”
Headlining the card will be a battle for the New England Fights Maine featherweight (145-pound) championship between undefeated Ray “All Business” Wood of Bucksport and Young’s MMA and Lenny “The Show Stealer” Wheeler, who fights out of Wulfrun MMA in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Wood is 3-0 since turning professional last fall after going 4-1 as an amateur, while Wheeler — one of five Canadian fighters slated to appear on the card — is 6-2 as a pro and has not lost a fight in more than two years.
“I’ve had the chance to watch Ray progress for the last year and a half,” said Peterson. “I’ve seen the evolution of his skills over the last 12-15 months and can see the full formation of a professional athlete. He’s really coming of age.
“Lenny is excited to come down and represent his country, and he’s just the type of test Ray is looking for.”
The co-main event matches Team Irish’s Jon Lemke of Brewer (3-0) in a 160-pound catch-weight bout against unbeaten Wulfrun MMA fighter Matt DesRoches (4-0). DesRoches has scored all four of his wins with technical knockouts by punches, the same manner in which Lemke has won his last two fights.
“We had 60 fighters on our last card [NEF VII in May in Lewiston], and there were a few who really had tremendous performances and Jon was chief among them,” said Peterson. “He fought a tough guy from Florida at that last show and won very easily.
“He’s never lost. He was 5-0 as an amateur and is 3-0 as a pro, and he’s a truly tough fighter.”
Other pro bouts have Brewer welterweight “The” Ryan Sanders (4-4) against Emmanuel Walo; Andrew Hughes of Team Irish making his professional debut at 175 pounds against Joe Palazio; Mike Laliberte of Team Irish (6-2-1) coming out of retirement for a middleweight bout against a yet-to-be-named foe; Coel Peach (1-1) against John Davis (2-0); Josh Parker of Skowhegan (4-6) against Christian Rivera (5-15), Bruce Boyington (2-5) of Young’s MMA against Asa Zorn (0-2), and John “First Class” Raio (0-3) of Topsham against Damon Owens (0-0) of Young’s MMA, all in featherweight clashes; and Dwayne Dural (0-0) from Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, against Jimmy Alexander (0-5) in a flyweight contest.
Amateur bouts have Crowsneck Boutin (3-3) against Branden Gibbs (1-0); Ramon Saintville (1-0) against Jacob Cameron (0-2); Jarrod Tyler (0-1) against Derek Luker (0-0); Steve Earland (2-1) against Justin Francisco (1-3); Sebastian O’Malley (0-0) against Joel Adams (0-0); C.J. Ewer (0-0) against an opponent to be determined; Jeremy Tyler (0-1) against Tollison Lewis (3-7); Caleb Hall (2-0) against Zackary Adams (0-1); Charlie Stambach (0-0) against Derek Shorey (2-6); Kim Russell (0-0) against an opponent to be determined; Tara Mitchell (0-0) against Adrianna Gomez (0-0); and Stephen Desjardins (2-2) against Trevor Hebert (0-1).
The UFC 162 middleweight bout between Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch and Mark Munoz, originally scheduled to be the featured preliminary fight broadcast live on the FX cable channel, on July 6 has been elevated to main-card status and now will be available only on pay- per-view.
UFC 162 will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Boetsch-Munoz bout was moved to the main card after UFC officials were unable to find an opponent for previous main-card fighter Ricardo Lamas when his opponent, Chan Sung Jung, was shifted to a UFC featherweight title fight against Jose Aldo at UFC 163 in Brazil on Aug. 3.
Boetsch (16-5) is ranked 10th among UFC middleweights while Munoz (12-3) is ranked eighth, and the winner hopes to move closer to a title bout against the winner of the UFC 162 main event between middleweight champion Anderson Silva (33-4) and undefeated Chris Weidman (9-0).
A former four-time wrestling state champion from Camden-Rockport High School who went on to wrestle at Lock Haven (Pa.) University, the 32-year-old Boetsch was supposed to fight Weidman in his last bout at UFC 155 in Las Vegas on Dec. 29.
But Weidman had to pull out of the bout due to injury and Boetsch lost by third-round technical knockout to his replacement, sixth-ranked Costa Philippou. That marked Boetsch’s first loss in five fights since dropping to the middleweight (185-pound) division from the light heavyweight (205-pound) ranks.
Boetsch is 8-2 overall in his last 10 fights, and 7-4 against UFC competition.
The 35-year-old Munoz, a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion, last fought on July 11, 2012, when he lost by second-round knockout to Weidman in San Jose, Calif., ending his own four-fight winning streak.
Dave Jansen, who won the Bellator MMA lightweight tournament championship with a unanimous decision victory over Marcin Held at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on March 21, had to drop out of his scheduled bout against reigning lightweight champion Michael Chandler on Wednesday due to an undisclosed injury.
Jansen earned a title shot against Chandler by winning the final of the promotion’s eight-man, $100,000 lightweight tournament.
There’s no word on when Jansen (19-2) will return to the cage, but Chandler (11-0) now will defend his title against David Rickels (14-1) at Bellator 97 scheduled for July 31 at Rio Rancho, N.M.