Maine’s mixed martial arts community will be busy at several New England venues beginning this weekend, ending a hiatus of sorts since New England Fights’ Bangor show in early August.
Jon Lemke and Buck Pineau will compete in separate bouts at CES 46, scheduled for Friday night at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
The Brewer-based Lemke (6-8) faces Josh LaBerge (11-6) of Fall River, Massachusetts, in a lightweight rematch of their CES 36 bout in June 2016 when LaBerge scored a second-round technical knockout.
Pineau, an Ashland native now living in southern Maine, will fight Pat McCrohan of Berkley, Mass., in a middleweight rematch. McCrohan (2-1) won the earlier clash in October 2015 when Pineau (1-4) suffered a dislocated elbow during the first round.
Another fight of note on the card has welterweight John Gotti, grandson of the notorious gangster of the same name, making his pro MMA debut against Johnny Adams.
The 24-year-old Gotti will carry a five-fight amateur winning streak into the match.
New England Fights follows the CES card with its first Portland show on Friday, Nov. 3, at the Aura nightclub in the Old Port.
Former NEF bantamweight champion Paul Gorham (10-9) will end a three-year absence from the cage against James “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Blair (5-1) in the main event. Blair trains at American Top Team of Coconut Creek, Florida, a gym that has produced the likes of current UFC champions Tyron Woodley and Joanna Jedrzeczyk.
NEF middleweight champion C.J. Ewer (3-0) from Hampden and Young’s MMA in Bangor will battle Trescott native Crowsneck Boutin (2-3) in a non-title matchup.
Three amateur title fights also are scheduled at NEF 31, with heavyweight Nick Gulliver (4-0) defending against Terrance Jean-Jacques (2-0), Nate Boucher (2-0) battling Justin Witham of the Shatterproof Combat Club in Dexter (3-4) for the vacant lightweight title, and Alex Walker (4-1) meeting Hilarie Rose (4-3) to crown NEF’s first women’s champion in the flyweight division.
That is one of four women’s bouts on the card, including the anticipated MMA debut of Levant teen Jayda Bailey just eight days after her 18th birthday against Danae Dostie, who also is fighting for the first time.
Two other Maine fighters, Victor Irwin of Bangor and Josh Jones of Brunswick, will head to Agawam, Mass., to compete on the Premier FC 24 card on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Irwin will make his prof debut in a light heavyweight bout against Jesse Baughman of Littleton, N.H., and brings an impressive combat sports resume into the contest.
As a high schooler, Irwin won the 2012 Class A wrestling state championship at 195 pounds, then became the first Maine wrestler to go 5-0 in the annual Maine-Nebraska Friendship Series.
Irwin moved up to 220 pounds as a senior and went undefeated against in-state competition while winning his second straight state crown and placing fifth at the New England championships.
He then helped start a wrestling program at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and earned All-American status with his seventh-place finish at the 2014 National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships.
Irwin went 3-0 as an amateur in MMA, stopping each of his opponents in the first round and winning the NEF amateur light heavyweight belt by defeating Ryan Glover last February.
Jones, the former Husson University and professional basketball player, will take a 2-1 record into his amateur middleweight clash against the debuting Yu Ji.
Jones has had a rapid-fire introduction to the sport, stopping his first two opponents in a combined 24 seconds before being stopped in just 23 seconds by Carlton Charles at NEF 30 in Bangor on Aug. 5.
Charles, the former University of Maine football player from Windham who was making his MMA debut in that bout, will return to action at NEF 31 in Portland on Nov. 3 in a 175-pound test against Mark Gardner.
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