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Cage Titans 49 Preview: Giannetti v. Estell Lightweight Championship

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Michael Polvere and Cage Titans continues to lead the way in New England post-pandemic MMA as Saturday night Cage Titans will become the first promotion in the region to hold a second show since the region opened back up to sanctioned MMA competition. Plymouth Memorial Hall, the hallowed ground of New England MMA, will once again play host to a stacked fight card Saturday night at Cage Titans 49! Fourteen fights hit the bill at Cage Titans 49, split evenly between Main Card and Undercard, the seven fight undercard includes the return to Cage Titans for "Scarecrow" Trevor Gudde who went 1-1 during his stint with Bellator MMA during his time away, cashing in on a flying knee followed by punches to earn a third round stoppage of Royce Gracie's son; Khonry Gracie (2-2) at Bellator 252. Gudde returns to Plymouth Memorial hall at Cage Titans 49 looking for his second promotional victory as a professional, against the legendary; Jay "The Silent Assassin" Ellis (15-99).

Also highlighting the preliminary card is the highly anticipated professional debut of Cage Titans veteran and Tri-Force MMA Lightweight; Dion Rubio (4-1 as an Amateur) who makes his first walk to the Cage Titans cage Saturday night as a professional when he faces two fight pro, Sityodtong's; Leonardo Laderia (0-2). Rubio has forged an impressive resume with Cage Titans as an amateur, tallying four wins, three by stoppage, with his lone loss coming to Eddy George (3-0 professional Lightweight) for the Cage Titans Amateur Lightweight strap at Cage Titans 43 in 2019 via 5 round decision, in a War. Rubio returns to the cage for the first time in two years with his eyes set on an emphatic victory to begin his professional career as Cage Titans sets the table for yet another promising prospect in Dion Rubio.

Lauzon MMA fan favorite and two fight Amateur; Andrew Valdina (1-1) vs. Sityodtong's Josh Medeiros (Amateur Debut), highlights five more amateur bouts on the preliminary card, including one amateur kickboxing bout featuring Citadel's Steve Drayton and Loco Lobo's Joey Rodgers! That action will lead to an absolute banger of a main card put together by Michael Polvere as he will be handing out Cage Titans gold three times, within the seven fight main card, while welcoming some of the promotion's biggest names to the Cage Titans cage, and center stage at Plymouth Memorial Hall Saturday Night!

The first shot at Cage Titans gold comes in the Amateur Flyweight division Saturday night when multi-promotion regional Flyweight champ, and #1 ranked ammy flyweight; Nate Russell (6-1) returns to the Cage Titans cage for the first time since a loss to Richie Santiago in 2016 at Cage Titans 28 for this very same Cage Titans Flyweight belt. In Russell's way of capturing Cage Titans gold, and his third regional Flyweight Title, is 5'10" Flyweight phenom; Joe Poirier (2-0) who has looked virtually untouchable in his two first round submission victories to begin his amateur career. Poirier is currently the 4th ranked ammy flyweight in our NEMMA rankings, and that's pretty impressive considering he's only stepped in the cage twice. What a way to kick off the main card here with perhaps the regions most decorated amateur Flyweight Champion and the man who many believe could be the next big Flyweight prospect, with the Vacant Cage Titans Amateur Flyweight strap on the line!

Two Lauzon MMA prospects look for big returns at Cage Titans 49; Lauzon MMA teammates Marty "The Beast" Navis (4-0) and Pat "PG3" Gilbride (3-1) should be highlighting their second straight Cage Titans card. However, for Navis, who's opponent didn't show up to Cage Titans 48, this will be his first chance since the pandemic to further his already impressive 4-0 professional record, as he meets professional boxer and ten fight MMA veteran Roberto "Ali" Yong (3-7) at a Welterweight limit of 170 pounds! Navis hopes to join a list that includes Don Shainis (145), Brandon Fleming (155) and Joe Giannetti (155) as Cage Titans prospects that have dispatched Yong in the first round during his 0-3 run with the promotion. The task doesn't get any easier unfortunately for the Lightweight turned Welterweight Roberto Yong, as he runs into one of the regions most powerful individuals south of the Light-Heavyweight division; Welterweight, Marty "The Beast" Navis!

Navis' teammate, Bantamweight prospect Pat Gilbride (3-1) will be looking to bounce back off the first loss of his professional career, that defeat came at Cage Titans 48, where Gilbride ended up on the short side of the judges scorecards against a surprisingly ambitious Joe "The Party" Penafiel (6-3) last time out. Gilbride needs to put Cage Titans 48 in the rearview and focus on getting his hand raised Saturday night against 25 fight New England MMA mainstay; Lionel "Boogz" Young (8-17). Young is more in the mold of fighter that Gilbride has had success against in his career, a long lengthy Featherweight, Young is of similar build to David McClendon and Anthony Pagliaro, the last two opponents to fall victim to the heavy grappling of the 29 year old Bostonian. Gilbride had trouble keeping up with the speed and quickness of Penafiel who is a natural 125/135 pounder, but in this matchup with the natural Featherweight Young, Gilbride should have more of an opportunity to set up his grappling as he guns for his fourth professional victory against the fabled New England MMA veteran; Lionel "Boogz" Young.

Not far removed from being one of the scariest female prospects in the region, Loco Lobo's Kylie O'Hearn (1-2) is back in the Cage Titans cage Saturday night looking to shake the drags of back to back losses early in her professional career. Turn back the clock three years and Kylie O'Hearn was fresh off a submission victory over Trisha Cicero to open her pro career, and the most talked about Women's prospect in New England, however in an always thin Women's Flyweight division the opportunities for O'Hearn became few and far between. O'Hearn stepped up to Featherweight at CES 54 for her shot at consensus #1 Female Pound for Pound in New England and now Bellator MMA rostered Jessy Miele (9-5) who used her size advantage to stop O'Hearn with strikes on the ground in the third round. Next Kylie would drop a decision to top women's prospect Jasimne Jasudavicius (5-1) at Cage Titans Combat Night 2, before spending the next two years on the shelf.

Still at just 24 years of age, I am as high on O'Hearn now as I ever was, the girl constantly fights stiff competition and has a killer instinct most women simply don't possess. O'Hearn finally has a chance to right the ship Saturday night when she meets upset minded Whittany Pyles (1-4) who's lone professional victory came in a Cage Titans 44 upset of Kristina Katsikis. Pyles will be looking to silence the Plymouth Memorial Hall crowd once again Saturday night as she faces the unenviable task of unseating one of the most promising Women's MMA prospects to come out of the region; a hungry Kylie O'Hearn. I expect a dangerous O'Hearn to enter that cage Saturday night, as a statement win in her return could put her name back into consideration for national prospect status!

Cage Titans Amateur Featherweight Champion Shane Dougherty (4-0) defends his Cage Titans strap for the first time Saturday night when he squares off with Lakeville MMA's Xavier Cardona (2-1) in the evening's second scheduled title fight. The 23 year old defending Champion Shane Dougherty has not fought since capturing the Cage Titans vacant Featherweight strap with a first round Knockout of Jordan Brown at Cage Titans 43 in April of 2019 also notching the first stoppage victory of his amateur career. Dougherty is currently the #2 ranked amateur featherweight in our NEMMA rankings, but by default he holds the top spot, as the #1 ranked fighter, Tom Pagliarulo has turned pro in the meantime. Dougherty looks to put on yet another display of high level striking techniques in this, his first defense of his Cage Titans crown against former Lightweight Xavier Cardona (2-1) who has reeled off back to back first round finishes to earn his shot at the Champion Dougherty Saturday night at Cage Titans 49!

In the Co-Main Event Cage Titans commentator Richie "Suave" Santiago (8-3) puts down the headset and picks up the gloves in hopes of silencing new Cage Titans charismatic villain; Joe "The Party" Penafiel (6-3). There is no doubt that Joe Penafiel left a lasting impression on the Cage Titans contingent last time out when showed up to Plymouth Memorial Hall with swag oozing out of his pores, but what ended up being even more impressive than his antics, was his ability to back them up. Penafiel stayed one step ahead of Lauzon MMA product Pat Gilbride (3-1) from bell to bell at Cage Titans 48, earning a unanimous decision on the judges scorecards. Penafiel then used his platform to seemingly call out every warm blooded Bantamweight pro in New England before ultimately setting his sights on the Contender Series alum; Richie Santiago.

Santiago who, with exception of his Grappling bout with Johnny "Cupcakes" Campbell at Cage Titans Combat Night 2 in 2019, will enter the Cage Titans cage Saturday night for the first time in his professional career when the pin drops on his contest with Penafiel. After capturing the Cage Titans Flyweight title as an Amateur, Richie has spent the majority of his professional career fighting under the CES MMA banner where he began his career 6-0. Santiago will be returning to the Cage Titans arena Saturday night with one goal in mind; shutting down "The Party" and "Beating Up" New England's newest "Bad Guy", Joe Penafiel. This should be an amazingly entertaining bout in my opinion, Richie needs a win here, in a big way, as he makes his Cage Titans return. However, nothing would play better into Penafiel's narrative then to spoil that for Santiago and find himself in the middle of the cage, with his hand raised, showered in a chorus of "boos."

Skeletor returns at Cage Titans 49 with his eye on Lightweight gold against the ever exciting Darius Estell as both men vie for the vacant Cage Titans Lightweight strap in Saturday evening's 5 round main event. Joe Giannetti (9-4-1) had little trouble finding somebody to dance with during the pandemic, logging two fights under the nationally recognized LFA banner in 2020. Unfortunately Giannetti found himself on the short end of the judges scorecards in both bouts, against Brant Moore (9-1) and Aaron McKenzie (10-2-1) respectively. Giannetti will now return to Cage Titans, the promotion he calls home, to resurrect his career and capture the Cage Titans Lightweight belt in the process. There is no question, that at just 26 years of age, Giannetti's future in this sport is still very bright but the MMA world is salivating to see Giannetti's killer instinct return. Killer instincts that led Joe to finishes in 8 of his 9 career victories, all under the Cage Titans banner. Giannetti will face another formidable foe Saturday night as he welcomes the return of Daruis "Solo Beast" Estell (7-3) as the two lock horns for the Lightweight strap.

Michigan's Estell gets a second chance at romance Saturday night after medical issues caused him to pull out of his Cage Titans Featherweight title bout against Don Shainis at Cage Titans 48 last month. Estell is a gamer. In 10 professional fights, Estell has faced opponents with records below .500 just once, picking up 7 career victories, including wins over Solo Hatley (9-5) and Zach DiSabatino (7-2). It doesn't get any easier for Estell Saturday night when he is locked in the cage with former Ultimate Fighter finalist Joe Giannetti, in Joe's backyard. What a Main Event Michael Polvere has in store for us Saturday night at Cage Titans 49, as the boss looks for another opportunity to hand out one of those beautiful, shiny, new Cage Titans Championship belts, following the result of Giannetti vs. Estell!

Cage Titans 49 comes to us live Saturday August 28th from Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts with the opening bell due to sound at 6 pm local time. For tickets go to and if you cannot be in Plymouth Saturday night be sure to order the PPV live stream or follow along at for live round by round coverage of all the action taking place at Cage Titans 49: Giannetti vs. Estell. Below is a look at the fight card (Subject to Change) in its entirety.

You can check out the full card on our site as well ---> CAGE TITANS 49 FIGHT CARD

Main Card

Joe Giannetti (9-4-1, South Shore Sportfighting) vs Darius Estell (7-3, Michigan Top Team)

Lightweight Title

Joe Penafiel (6-3, Fusion Xcel) vs Richie Santiago (8-3, Tri-Force MMA)


Shane Dougherty (4-0, USMMA) vs Xavier Cardona (2-1, Lakeville MMA)

Amateur Featherweight Title

Lionel Young (8-17, Citadel MMA) vs Pat Gilbride (3-1, Lauzon MMA)


Roberto Yong (3-7, Team Ali) vs Marty Navis (4-0, Lauzon MMA)


Whitney Piles (1-4, Tech MMA) vs Kylie O’Hearn (1-2, Loco Lobo)

Women’s Flyweight

Nate Russell (6-1, Fighting Arts Academy) vs. Joe Poirier (2-0, SBG East)

Vacant Flyweight Amateur Title


Leo Ladeira (0-2, Sityodtong) vs Dion Rubio (0-0, TriForce)

155lb PRO MMA

Jay Ellis (15-99, Red Schaffer MMA) vs Trevor Gudde (2-2, Citadel)

170lb PRO MMA

Josh Medeiros (0-0, Sityodtong) vs Andrew Valdina (1-1, Lauzon MMA)

135lb AM MMA

Josh Smith (0-0, Nostos) vs John O’Connor (0-0, Loco Lobo)

170lb AM MMA

Scott Miles (0-0, Citadel) vs Tyler Smythe (1-1, Evolution Athletix)

130lb AM MMA

Guinder Valdez (0-0, Sityodtong) vs Ben King (0-0, Savery BJJ)

145lb AM MMA

Steve Drayton (0-0, Citadel) vs Joey Rogers (0-0, Loco Lobo)

130lb AM Muay Thai


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