Updated: May 13
Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
The King of Maine Combat Sports; New England Fights returns to the "Cities of the Androscoggin" this Saturday night as Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo present NEF 47: The Battle of L/A live from the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn, Maine with an opening bell due to sound at 7:00 pm local time. NEF 47 will mark New England Fights first event since the sudden passing of NEF owner Matt Peterson's brother; former NEF Middleweight Champion and New England MMA pioneer Jesse Peterson. Peterson's sudden death at just 40 years of age shocked the New England MMA community and will undoubtedly change the landscape of every NEF event from here on out as Jesse was a staple, always within arms reach of the NEF cage on fight night, there supporting his own teammates, his brother (Matt) and the development of the sport in our region. Rest Easy Jesse Peterson!
So it goes without saying that NEF 47 will be a bittersweet event for all in attendance; including both sides of the main event. Where friends become enemies when Matt "Ken Doll" Denning (5-12) and his former Coach at Central Maine BJJ; Jesse "The Viking" Erickson (10-8, Former NEF Lightweight Champion) throw down at a Catchweight of 165 pounds. Erickson explained the falling-out with his former student Denning on a recent episode of "The Room Podcast" where he told our Steve Domenico "Once they close the cage door none of this bullshit matters anymore, you can run your suck all you want online...and say whatever your want...we're getting in the cage, it's gunna happen!" And happen it will Saturday night in the main event at NEF 47.
In the Co-Main event another former NEF Lightweight Champion makes his long awaited, highly anticipated, return to action Saturday night when "The" Ryan Sanders (18-9) ends a three and a half year layoff from competition when he meets The Academy's Mark "Pockets" Gardner (2-2) in a clash of Welterweights. A lot has changed since we last saw Ryan Sanders in the cage (Second round TKO of Jacob Bohn at NEF 36: Battle for the Gold) Ryan has found a new camp and now trains under to tutelage of combat sports legend and striking guru; Primo Bellarosa at Vision Quest Muay Thai in Newport, Maine. Sanders will match techniques with an up and coming Mark Gardner who has never shied away from stiff competition in his young career, testing himself against the teeth of the New England Welterweight division, including an upset of Nick Alley (7-5) at NEF 45: Uprising his last time out. Sanders will undoubtedly be the toughest test of Gardner's career but "Pockets" will be looking to crash the Ryan Sanders comeback party when the bell rings on Saturday's co-feature.
We move on to 155 pounds in our third professional bout on the ticket as one of the pound for pound scariest men in New England; Mo Al Kinani (2-0, Evolution Athletix) looks to stay flawless when he welcomes Nostos MMA's Ross Dannar (Pro Debut) to the professional ranks. Those "in the know" in New England have been very high on Al Kinani for a long time, his striking is wise beyond its years and at just 26 years of age Mo shows the potential to reach the sports highest levels. But first he will have to get through Devin Powell understudy Ross Dannar. Dannar leaves behind a 2-1 amateur record Saturday night when he looks to become the first man to leave the first round with Al Kinani as a professional. In Dannar's amateur career all three of his fights went to the judges scorecards, the question remains; How many Al Kinani strikes can Dannar withstand in his effort to get this fight to the mat and into his world? We will get that answer Saturday night when the pin drops on this feature Lightweight bout.
One of New England's most highly touted female prospects; Strawweight Glory "The Fury" Watson (2-1, Young's MMA) makes her second straight NEF start (Second round Rear Naked Choke of Alibeth Milliron at NEF 46: Decade of Dominance) when she welcomes New Jersey's Natalie "Natty Ice" Schlesinger (1-0) to the NEF cage for the first time. Watson spoke with our Steve Domenico about her desire to fight top competition as she looks to catch the eyes of the world's top promotions on a recent episode of "The Room Podcast." Glory meets unbeaten Driven Gym product; Natalie Schlesinger in the lone female bout on the NEF 47 fight card. Schlesinger hopes to keep her professional record unblemished and avoid becoming the third consecutive finish for the surging Glory Watson when these two throwdown at 115 pounds.
We meet at a Catchweight of 150 pounds in our next professional bout when former NEF Amateur Featherweight Champion Nathaniel Grimard (1-0, Nostos MMA) makes his second straight NEF appearance (Unanimous Decision victory over Anthony Vasta at NEF 46: Decade of Dominance) when he meets New York/Vermont MMA veteran Andrew Provost (1-0). Provost notched a win in his professional debut at Battle in Barre 5 with a Decision nod against Vermonter Chris Rooney (0-2). Provost meets the talented Nostos MMA product Nate Grimard (1-0) who looks to begin his professional career much like he did his amateur career, by stringing together a list of impressive victories on his way to becoming a title contender. Grimard takes the next step Saturday night beneath the bright lights of the NEF banner, he also spoke to our Steve Domenico recently to discuss the next chapter in his pro career. (Grimard joins "The Room Podcast" ahead of NEF 47)
Central Maine BJJ's Nate "Backpack" Boucher (0-1) is back in the NEF cage Saturday night for the first time in over two years as he looks to shake a loss in his pro debut (at NEF 42 against Chris Caterino) whe he welcomes David Juliano (1-2, Driven Gym) to the New England landscape. Boucher will carry a heavy heart into his bout at NEF 47 as he competes for the first time since the passing of his Coach, Cornerman and Mentor; Jesse Peterson. Boucher locks horns with New Jersey's Juliano at a fight weight of 130 pounds.
Next NEF welcomes two Independent fighters who have become mainstays on NEF cards throughout the years as Tae Kwan Do striker Carl Langston (1-6) meets former Marine Corps Boxer; Zenon Herrera (1-8). Carl and Zenon will meet in Lightweight action as both men look to notch their second professional victory Saturday night.
The Professional portion of NEF 47 begins in the Featherweight division as Regiment Training Center's Aaron "Short Fuse" Hughes (1-2) tangles with Defensive Edge's Anthony Vasta (0-1). Both Hughes and Vasta had their turn talking with our Steve Domenico on "The Room Podcast" to discuss their bout at NEF 47. Needless to say no love will be lost between these two as both vow to make an example of one another in the NEF cage Saturday night. As bad blood brews between these two Featherweights the anticipation of both these men meeting in the NEF cage continues to grow, this one could be fun.
NEF Amateur Bantamweight Champion Felipe Gunter (4-1, First Class MMA) returns to the NEF cage to defend his Bantamweight strap against Nick Catone's "Remarkable" Bill Markle (4-1). Making the trip to Maine from New Jersey Bill Markle is riding a current four fight winning streak as he makes his New England MMA debut against the uber talented Champion Felipe Gunter. These two high level Amateurs are set to highlight the Amateur portion of Saturday night's NEF 47 when Gunter and Markle share five round of championship action with Gunter's Bantamweight crown on the line, this fight should not disappoint.
NEF Amateur Flyweight Champion Tyler "Butter Knife" Smythe (4-2, Evolution Athletix) was set to defend his title against DeQuan Meeks (4-3) Saturday night, however Meeks was forced to withdraw from the bout on fight week due to Covid-19. Eight more exciting Amateur matchups round out the NEF 47 fight card, continue below for the complete fight line up and stay tuned to New England MMA throughout the weekend for all the latest NEF 47 news and notes!