Updated: Oct 14
The amateur featherweight division is top heavy with two young talents holding down the 1 and 2 spots. Burgess MMA fighter Tom "The Phenom" Pagliarulo (5-1) went 3-0 in 2019 with big wins over #4 Zac "Rocky" Richard (6-3), a tough veteran in Jimmy Jackson (4-4), and DonnyBrooke featherweight champ Brandon Gibbs (4-2). Pags has made significant improvements in his striking game since consistently training with two of the regions best fighters in Rob Font (17-4) and Calvin "The Boston Finisher" Kattar (21-4). He's got a solid wrestling base after competing at Plymouth State College, but he's getting more recognition for his crisp striking game that has battered numerous opponents. "The Phenom" is currently the NEF featherweight champ, and the Combat Zone featherweight champ, and with 6 fights under his belt in the ammy ranks, look for the 23 year old prospect to make the jump to the pro ranks in the very near future. Pagliarulo has done a great job aligning his career with the right people in the region, and when you combine his skillset, ability to improve, and training partners, you get a potential star at the next level. Don't be surprised if you see Pags getting announced by Bruce Buffer within the next 3-4 years.
Although I have very high praise for Pagliarulo, don't sleep on 2nd ranked Shane Dougherty (4-0). The USMMA product is undefeated under the Cage Titans banner (4-0), and has proven to be a serious presence in the 145 pound division. Dougherty picked up the biggest win of his young career in April of 2019 when he beat Jordan Brown (3-4) for the vacant Cage Titans amateur featherweight belt. His big for a featherweight, is very athletic, and has improved immensely in his last 3 fights. Dougherty is a fun fighter to watch and has a massive following, and he just recently turned 22 years old, so he's got his career by the balls right now. Very much like Tom Pagliarulo, Dougherty also has a legitimate shot at making waves at the next level so long as the early part of his pro career is handled properly.
Recently crowned Premier FC featherweight champ, Yorrick "YoRock" Anderson (3-0), fights out of New York, but he made a big impression on the New England fan base with his title winning effort over #4 ranked Zac Richard. Anderson showed a solid striking game in defeating Richard, and he was able to execute on that game plan by stuffing Richard's takedown attempts throughout the affair. Hopefully we'll see "YoRock" back in New England once fights get underway again.
The aforementioned Zac "Rocky" Richard (6-3-1) comes in at number 4 on our list, but don't let his record fool you. HIs 3 losses have come to #1 Tom Pagliarulo, #3 Yorrick Anderson, and now professional fighter Miguel Cuevas (1-0), who most likely would be the #1 ranked fighter in the division if he was still fighting in the ammy ranks. Richard has never been one to shy away from a tough fight. He's been through some battles, and with 10 amateur fights under his belt against very good competition, it's time to make the leap to the pro ranks and get paid to fight. "Rocky" is as tough as they come, and he is also the most active fighter in the division, partaking in 10 bouts over the course of a 2 year period! The Nostos MMA fighter studies under one of New England's best coaches in Bellator fighter Devin Powell (10-4), so he's got a solid camp and should be able to evolve as a fighter once he turns pro. Richard is a wrestle first kind of fighter, which is a great base to have, but if he wants to get to the next level he'll need to focus on his standup game and see improvements there. Once Richard starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together, then he'll have a clear path to main event fights on the regional level with a possibility of getting the call from the big boys.
Vermont based fighter Dylan "The Afro Samurai" Felion (8-2) grabs our 5th spot in the featherweight rankings, but also owns the 9th ranking in our amateur lightweight rankings. Felion sports a great record, but his level of competition has come into question, thus the reason he finds himself at #5 and not in the top 3. He competes in Vermont, and to be honest, we don't know too much about the Vermont scene (this will change), but on paper the overall level of competition that competes in the state just isn't up to par with the other New England states. They are definitely closing the gap, but if Vermont's bests want to find themselves towards the top of our rankings, they'll either need to travel to fight for some other promotions, or bring in some out of state talent to fight locally. Rumor has it that Felion's next fight will be in the pro ranks, which makes a lot of sense at this point in his career. Felion is a mystery to many here in New England, but we're looking forward to seeing what the hype is all about soon.
In the 6th and 7th spots are two fighters that have burst onto the scene and are garnering some serious attention from the New England MMA community. Lauzon MMA product Dan Shapiro (3-0) was away from the sport for 3 years, but the 29 year old made a quick splash in the division by picking up 2 big wins in 2019. He trains at arguably the best camp in New England, so the sky is the limit for Shapiro, but he needs to act quickly as he's not getting any younger.
Tri-Force MMA fighter Tyrime Da Silva (2-0) has picked up two quick wins over the twin Lauzon MMA fighters Brett and Brandon Layton late in 2019. Both wins came by way of guillotine, so he's proven to be a finisher. He's only got two bouts under his belt, but from what we've seen so far, Da Silva has the potential to shoot up the featherweight rankings in the very near future.
There's some serious talent in the amateur 145 pound division, and there's potential for more than one of these guys to be fighting under the bright lights in the coming years.