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Bellator 253: The Mangler Returns

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Perhaps no name has been more synonymous with New England MMA over the last decade than Matt "The Mangler" Bessette (24-9), a fan favorite throughout the region, Bessette carries with him one of the largest fan bases in all of New England MMA, and rightfully so. The two time CES MMA Featherweight World Champion is not only one of the region's most decorated Mixed Martial Artists, but also one of the most down to earth ambassadors, in our sport today. Since capturing the CES Featherweight title against Joe Pingitore (7-3-1) at CES 37 in 2016, Bessette's only loss on New England soil came at UFC 220 in Boston, where he came out on the wrong side of a decision against Enrique Barzola (16-5-2). The Mangler returned home to Hartford, Connecticut and CES MMA, following his run with the UFC, in March of 2019 with a decision win over Tim Dooling (9-8) at CES 55 before regaining his CES Featherweight strap at CES 60 with a third round TKO of Charles Cheeks III (14-8) in January of this year.

Enter: Novel Coronavirus; and after fighting just once in 2019 following the birth of his 18 month old daughter Harper, Bessette was staring down another long layoff from competition due to the pandemic, until an old friend came calling. Prior to signing with CES MMA in 2016 and becoming that promotion's biggest star, nine of Bessette's first 25 professional bouts took place under the Bellator MMA banner, where Bessette is an impressive 7-2 in his career for one of the biggest MMA promotions in the world. With it looking less likely that CES will be able to execute another fight card before the end of the year, Bessette's hope to compete again, especially in New England, before the end of the year lied, ultimately, in the hands of Bellator MMA matchmakers.