New England Fights will host its sixth consecutive sold-out mixed martial arts show Saturday night when “NEF 38: Stormborn” at the Aura nightclub in Portland.
The show, scheduled for 7 p.m., will include the professional debut of Bangor bantamweight Fred Lear as well as four NEF amateur title fights on an 18-bout card.
NEF announced its latest sellout five days prior to fight night two days sooner than the promotion’s previous record of three days before its NEF 37 show at the Cross Insurance Center grand ballroom in Bangor on Feb. 1.
“We have competitors flying in from all over the country for ‘Stormborn,’” NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson said. “With four title fights, three women’s fights, decorated wrestlers and all colors of the (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) belt spectrum represented, it’s no wonder this show sold out early.”
The last show NEF didn’t sell out was NEF 32, held Feb. 3, 2018, at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
The Colisee seats approximately 3,600, while the two venues NEF has used since then, Aura and the Cross Insurance Center’s grand ballroom, seat approximately 1,000 and 1,200, respectively.
The sellout streak figures to be threatened when the promotion returns to Lewiston for its next scheduled show on June 22. That card is expected to include undefeated NEF pro featherweight champion Josh Harvey (6-0-1) and unbeaten amateur flyweight Glory Watson (4-0), both from Young’s MMA in Bangor.
“The NEF brand is stronger than ever and continues to grow,” NEF promoter and co-owner Nick DiSalvo said. “It’s a time where we’re seeing competitors falter around us with half-empty venues and weak fight cards, but not NEF.”
Lear, the John Bapst Memorial High School graduate who went 6-2-1 as an amateur, will face North Carolinian Bryant Bullock (1-0) in one of four professional bouts at NEF 38.
NEF 38 weigh-ins are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at the Westbrook Community Center and are open and free for the public to attend.
Irwin, Charles victorious
Victor Irwin, a former two-time state wrestling champion from Brewer High School, secured his first professional MMA victory last Saturday as part of Premier FC 28 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Irwin forced Luis Razuri to tap out with a neck crank at 4:22 in the third round of their heavyweight bout.
Irwin won the 2012 Class A individual wrestling state championship at 195 pounds, then that summer competed for Team Maine in the annual Maine-Nebraska Friendship Series. He became the first Pine Tree State wrestler to go undefeated (5-0) since the event began in the mid-1980s.
Irwin moved up to 220 pounds for his senior season and went undefeated against in-state competition to capture his second straight state title. He finished fifth at the 2013 New England championships.
Irwin began his MMA career in 2015 and won all three of his amateur bouts, including a first-round victory by rear-naked choke over Ryan Glover to win the NEF amateur light heavyweight belt in February 2017.
He turned professional later that year and lost his first two fights by decisions before breaking through against Razuri.
Former University of Maine football player Carlton Charles improved his amateur record to 3-2 with a first-round stoppage of Floran Kacaku in a battle of middleweights last weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The end came suddenly as Charles scored a takedown and quickly began engaging in some effective ground-and-pound that prompted the referee to stop the bout due to strikes at 2:20 of the opening round.