Autumn Opportunities Aplenty for New England Fighters
Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
If the first three weeks of September were any indication on how the last several months of 2020 will unfold, New England fighters better stay ready, and New England MMA fans better hang on to their hats! We take a look at an eventful first three weeks of September for New England MMA and what could be in the forecast over the next several months as New England MMA continues to show up on the National and International stage. As regional fans anxiously await the return of local competition, it is great to watch some of our regions brightest stars continue to shine in the face of a very, we'll call it; "Adverse" 2020.
William Knight (8-1) cashes in on Developmental Deal with UFC.
To kick off the storm of activities, Thornton MMA's William "Knightmare" Knight (8-1) opened up the month of September, September 1st, at the UFC's Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series against formally unbeaten, and two division (185, 205) Champion of Lights Out Promotions (Grand Rapids, Michigan); Cody Brundage (5-0). Knight found himself in some compromising positions against the Wrestler; Brundage, in the first minute of the fight but managed to use his strength to get the fight back to the feet where he landed a series of skull crushing elbows, crumbling Brundage, before following with the "Knightmare's" patented Ground and Pound for the first round stoppage. Not only did Connecticut's Knight stamp his ticket to the UFC September 1st in Vegas; Knight has already signed to make his UFC debut, against Aleksa Camur (6-0) at UFC 253, September 26th from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. A card that will be headlined by a Middleweight World Title tilt between Current Champion Isreal Adesanya (19-0) and fellow undefeated killer; Paulo Costa (13-0). Hopping all over the opportunity to get right back in there, William Knight will make his UFC debut on one of the most highly anticipated fight cards of the year!
"The Zohan" Randy Costa (6-1) caps off a 'weird week in Vegas' for New England MMA.
September 12th; UFC Fight Night: Waterson v. Hill, Lauzon MMA's "Slow" Mike Rodriguez (11-5) physically dismantled Ultimate Fighter Season Three alum and UFC veteran Ed "Short Fuse" Herman (25-14) over the first round and a half. It appeared as though MRod had finished Herman before a clean knee to the body was deemed a low blow by referee Chris Tognoni. Herman used the time to recover from the body shot and make it to the stool following the brutal second round turned in by Rodriguez. The beginning of round three was more of the same for the striking Rodriguez, knocking Herman to the mat with punches, where Tognoni gave Herman numerous warnings about not fighting back. As Rodriguez got on top of Herman, looking to again secure the finish, Herman used a Kimura attempt to sweep Rodriguez before eventually finishing that same attempt causing Rodriguez to tap at 2:20 of the third and final round. The decision was immediately cloaked in controversy as fans and fellow fighters took to social media expressing their disgust with the outcome. The result of the fight is currently under review.
Just three days later, in the very same cage, New England fan favorite, the pride of East Providence, Rhode Island; "The Portugese Man of War" Dinis "Sweetbread" Paiva Jr. (13-8) would make his long awaited Contenders Series debut against Featherweight Kyle Driscoll (12-3). Paiva who came in with an impressive ten wins in his last 12 contests all under the CES MMA banner, including wins in his last six contests north of the 135 pound Bantamweight division, found the length of a much larger Driscoll a struggle to overcome. As Dinis constantly pushed to close the distance and land strikes on the grappling heavy Driscoll. The closely contested fight came down to the judges table where all three judges awarded the fight unanimously to Kyle Driscoll.
The fate of the week now rested solely on the shoulders of another Lauzon MMA product and Cage Titans fan favorite; "The Zohan" Randy Costa (6-1) who would welcome the promotional debut of Journey Newson (9-2) at UFC Fight Night Covington v. Woodley on the evening of September 19th. Costa entered the UFC's cage for the third time Saturday night, and would waste little time, notching his second consecutive first round Knockout, besting his performance against Boston Salmon (6-3) at UFC on ESPN 6 (2:15), Costa needed just :41 seconds to dispatch the UFC newcomer Newson with a head kick followed by punches. With back to back impressive Knockouts from the young Taunton, Massachusetts stud, we could be looking to see Costa back in the Octagon sooner than later as his stock continues to rise. Costa remains inspirational in his efforts to rise to the elite level of MMA, all the while keeping the memory of his best friend Devin Carrier alive and well. We cannot wait to see Randy (and Devin) back on the World's stage before the close of 2020.
Bellator MMA furthers commitment to Mohegan Sun Casino throughout the remainder of the year, as New England fighters continue to impress inside their cage.
Bellator MMA has become a fixture on the New England scene over the last several years, and with the World in it's current state, Bellator has made a commitment to host multiple shows throughout the last quarter of 2020 from their 'combat sports bubble' inside the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. This should come as excellent news for New England's top talent who could raise hopes of competing close to home before the regional scene actually opens up. Bellator MMA has already twice summoned "The Jamician Shamrock" Ras "Rasquatch" Hylton (6-5) for Heavyweight bouts, including his most recent clip September 12th at Bellator 246 against an inexperienced prospect in Davion "All Day" Franklin (2-0) who came in highly touted by Bellator MMA out of the Jacksonwink camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hylton and Franklin battled back and forth for a grueling opening first two rounds. In the third round Franklin's lack of MMA experience became prominent, as he continued to ignore the instructions from referee Dan Miragliotta to stop targeting the back of Hylton's head with punches. As it were Hylton, clearly compromised by the continued illegal blows, was not able to continue with the bout. With the new unified rules in place, and the strikes being deemed unintentional, the fight was ultimately awarded a Technical Decision win for Franklin, a decision that is currently under further review.
A fight with slightly less controversy surrounding its outcome would take place just two fights following the conclusion of Hylton v. Franklin at Bellator 246 and would feature yet another New England MMA mainstay. Springfield, Massachusetts' Pat "The Gorilla Ninja" Casey (6-3) would jump feet first back into the Bellator cage for the fourth time in his career, the first time as a Middleweight, as he replaced Austin Vanderford (9-0, positive Covid test) on just 6 days notice against his toughest opponent to date in Daniel "Demigod" Madrid (18-6). Madrid came into the fight a heavy favorite having finished all 17 of his career victories having notched 15 of those wins by submission. Casey, who is always a gamer, would not fall victim to the hype, Casey battled tough with the far more experienced Madrid, as Casey was able to go where no man had gone before; a judges decision with Madrid. As the tellies came down two judges has scored the fight for Madrid, declaring him the winner by split-decision against whats was likely the best version of Pat Casey the world has ever seen!
It's exciting times indeed, New England MMA is a buzz after our recent successes on the big stage and look to keep the momentum going through Autumn and into the holiday season. With Bellator maintaining it's "combat sports bubble" at Mohegan Sun Casino throughout the rest of the year, rumors of a CES MMA return and our recent showings in the UFC, fans from the region should have plenty to be thankful for as the last quarter of 2020 approaches. Stay in tune with us here at NewEnglandMMA.org for all the latest New England MMA news and rumblings.