Updated: Oct 14
A mystery man sits atop the amateur middleweight rankings, as we don't know much about Spencer Payne, but the one thing that we do know is that he's an athletic heavy handed grappler that the region should pay attention to. He's 3-0 in his young amateur career, but he's got 3 stoppages under the Combat Zone banner; 2 by submission, and most recently a KO win over a very though 3rd ranked Jeff Reynolds (2-1). Payne is a BJJ purple belt under David Ginsberg (Ginsberg Academy) and trains out of Cambridge, MA. He's physically a beast, and in his first two fights he's used that physicality to get takedowns and advance until eventually locking in a choke. He's definitely more comfortable on the ground, but he showed us that he's got some power in his hands as well in his most recent fight. He doesn't have much of a social media presence, but the quiet killer that is Spencer Payne has the potential to make some serious waves in the pro ranks once he decides to make the leap. Hopefully once fights commence again on the regional level we'll see Spencer active and honing his skills.
Grabbing the number 2 spot is South Shore Sportfighting product Jideofor "The Duke" Ojukwu (2-1). He hasn't been the most active fighter, and will most likely fall out of our rankings on the next go-around, but he's worthy of recognition, as he's an absolute physical specimen who has the raw gifts that could propel him to the next level. His only loss is to current #3 ranked pro Yu Ji (3-0). He's got a light heavyweight win over #10 ranked pro Ron Marshall (1-3), and a middleweight win back at the end of 2018 over Ariel Nunez (1-1). Ojukwu is a still a mystery to many, as his recent inactivity raises questions about his path within the MMA game and if we'll see him again in the cage in the future. If we do, make sure you keep an eye on this kid, because if he can evolve his game, he's got a chance to have some serious success in the pro ranks.
Coming as the 3rd ranked amateur middleweight is the aforementioned Jeff Reynolds (2-1) who fights out of Triumph MMA with John Fain and crew. The Granite State native has proven to be a heavy-handed striker who is massive for the 185 pound division. He ran into an overhand right from hell when he fought #1 ranked Spencer Payne, but his striking skills have proven to be the strength of his game with two KO/TKO wins over Isiah Able (0-3) and Steve Foley (1-1). Presumably Reynolds is a well-rounded fighter, as Triumph's high-level BJJ is sell-known in the region. Another physical specimen near the top of the 185 pound amateur division here in New England.
Joe Lauzon disciple, Pete Hailer (1-0), is someone to watch. He's young, has a strong wrestling base, and trains with the best camp in New England at Lauzon MMA. Hailer wrestled at Johnson & Wales University, and tallied a 30-8 record his senior year in 2017, so you know he has a solid wrestling base to work from. He's only had one MMA fight so far, a 2nd round KO/TKO win over Patrick Crowley (1-2), and he hasn't fought in almost two years, so his inactivity is a concern and will bounce him from our rankings in the near future. Regardless, if this kid wants it he has very good odds of having success and moving up these rankings.
5 of the 6 remaining middleweights on this list hail out of the state of Maine, as Christian Barrett (#5, 2-0), Carlton Charles (#6, 3-2), Jordan Norman (#7, 2-1), Stephen Kimball (#8, 3-2), and Greg Ishihara (#10, 2-2) round out our amateur middleweight rankings.
There are 3 guys at the top of this list who have cemented themselves there, but the overall inactivity of the division is a concern. You can attribute some of this inactivity to the difficulty of matching fights in the region at this weight class. As you start moving up in weight the herd becomes very thin, thus the reason why we've had to leave some fighters on these rankings who have been inactive for more than 18 months. Hopefully as fights commence on the regional scene will see most of these guys come out of hibernation and plant their flags in the ground.
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