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Cage Titans 57: Giannetti vs. Almeida; Kicks off 2023 for New England MMA

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Cage Titans FC is the first out the chute in 2023 as Michael Polvere and crew present Cage Titans 57: Giannetti vs. Almeida this Saturday night from their home at Plymouth Memorial Hall in the nation's hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Polvere opens the 2023 Cage Titans slate Saturday night by weilding two of the promotion's biggest stars; "Champ, Champ" Joe "Skeletor" Giannetti (13-4, American Kickboxing Academy) as he defends his Cage Titans Lightweight strap against 32 fight professional veteran and New England MMA stalwart; Saul "The Spider" Almeida (20-12, Sityodtong). And Cage Titans all-time fan favorite "Slippery" Peter Barrett (13-6, Lauzon MMA) who looks to pick up his third consecutive finish when he welcomes late replacement; Kris "Easy Money" Berberich (5-9, Mat-Su) in his return to the Bay State, as these two agree to meet at a 165 pound Catchweight.

Four more professional contests round out the Cage Titans 57 main card as two unblemished Bantamweight prospects look to remain unbeaten Saturday night as they both welcome the toughest tests of the professional careers. First, former Cage Titans FC Amateur Bantamweight title Challenger; "Killa" Kam Arnold (2-0, Recon) makes his third professional walk under the Cage Titans banner as he locks horns with Bellator MMA veteran Will "Sriracha" Smith (3-5, Black Wolf Martial Arts). Then another former Cage Titans FC Amateur Bantamweight title Challenger; Andrew "The Gladiator" Valdina (1-0, Lauzon MMA) welcomes the Cage Titans return of Seth Basler (3-11, Vinseys). Both bouts set to be contested within the confines of the Bantamweight division.

Cage Titans "ole friend" Aaron "Short Fuse" Hughes (2-3, Regiment) makes his long awaited first walk to the Cage Titans cage as a professional when he runs into the always crafty veteran from Maine; Matt "Ken Doll" Denning (8-16, Dennings MMA) in a Lightweight feature. And once promising Lightweight hopeful Gerry Meuse (1-0, Sityodtong) ends an over four year layoff from competition when he meets Josh Beauparlant (0-4, Green Light) at a Catchweight of 160 pounds. We will take a closer look at all the pro matchups later on, but first here is what catches our eye on the nine fight Amateur undercard Saturday night at Cage Titans 57.

Trifecta's Brett "The Hitman" Layton (2-4, Trifecta) returns to Cage Titans after a pair of losses outside the promotion saw him saddled with a personal three fight skid. Layton who scored his two career victories by way of decision that both came inside the friendly confines of Plymouth Memorial Hall will look to notch his third career victory Saturday night against a tough customer in Louisiana transplant turned Cape Codder; Joe Atallah (2-1, Loco Lobo). Atallah has done all his work in the Southeast Region of the United States before finding himself under the tutelege of Lee Gresh (Loco Lobo) right here in Plymouth. Coming in with a 2-1 record where both wins came by second round stoppage, Atallah will undoubtedly be a tough challenge to Layton in his return to the Cage Titans roster. I'll have this one circled as both these guys will have something to prove once the pin drops on thie Amateur Featherweight bout.

Lauzon MMA's grappling guru; Tyler Menard (Debut) makes his long awaited MMA debut when he takes on Cage Titans newcomer Josh Rodriguez (0-1, Gym X) in an Amateur Welterweight prelim Saturday night. Menard sat down with our Steve Domenico and discussed a "whole different ballgame" when it comes to making his MMA debut inside Plymouth Memorial Hall at Cage Titans 57. All signs point to "BEAST" as Menard looks to solidify that moniker amongst the MMA realm here, in what should be an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the New England Amateur Welterweight division against New York's Rodriguez.

Evolution Athletix looks to kick the 2023 door down sending four Amateur combatants to the Cage Titans cage Saturday night on the Cage Titans 57 undercard. Beginning in the Muay Thai ranks and at an agree upon 145 pounds Teddy Politis (3-1 Amateur MMA) makes his Cage Titans and Muay Thai debut and looks to do something his teammate Tyler Smythe could not, claim victory over Avery Andrews (1-0-1, USMMA) in Muay Thai Competition. Politis who is used to doling out the punnishment in the MMA realm will now test his striking against a crisp, technical high volume striker; Avery Andrews to open the evening at Cage Titans 57. With both these men being "gas pedal" type fighters this fight should capture the Cage Titans fans attention right from the opening bell.

Next up in what Cage Titans dubbed the "Gangsterweight" division or technically a Catchweight of 190 pounds Evo's Sean Wakefield (1-0) makes his second walk to the Cage Titans cage following a Muay Thai debut Decision over Brian Ferguson at Cage Titans 55. Wakefield made his MMA debut in November of last year in New Hampshire earning a decision over Joe Peters (1-3). Wakefield hopes to make it 2-0 on his Ammy MMA resume at Cage Titans 57 when he meets Ascension's Joe Lexis (0-1) who ends an over four year layoff Saturday night when he throws down with Sean Wakefield.

Up next out of the Saco, Maine based gym 23 year old Lindsey Kelley (0-1) will look to notch her first victory inside the MMA cage after taking an extremely short notice challenge in November to open her career. Kelley hopes that a proper camp will aid her in capturing victory against a tough opponent at Cage Titans 57 when she meets Amanda Ferreira (0-1, Gorilla Crew). Ferreira who boasts a 2-0 kickboxing record will also be looking for her first MMA victory after taking a loss outside the region last year. I was cageside for Kelley's debut in November and can vouch for her intensity in the cage as she entered with somewhat of a Ronda Rousey-esque demeanor, she will need to dig deep and bring that persona to life Saturday night if she hopes to get past the tough Amanda Ferreira.

Finally; Evolution's Tyler "Butter Knife" Smythe (6-3) is no stranger to the Cage Titans cage having captured the vacant Cage Titans Amateur Flyweight strap by finishing Joe Poirier in the third round at Cage Titans 54. Then coming up just short of capturing the Amateur Bantamweight belt at Cage Titans 55 against Arthur Mpofu. Smythe lines up with another Cage Titans Amateur Flyweight Champion at Cage Titans 57 when he meets Nate Russell (8-2, Fighting Arts Academy) to unify the title. Russell was thought to be turning pro following his capturing of the Cage Titans Flyweight strap at Cage Titans 49 (also against Joe Poirier), however he never ended up punching that pro ticket and remained competitive at the Amateur level. Also having never relinquished his title there was a score to settle between the consensus #1 and #2 Amateur Flyweights in New England as these two men will share the cage for five, three minute rounds to decide who is the King of the New England Amateur Flyweight division as only one man can leave Plymouth Memorial Hall with the strap. Russell spoke with our Steve Domenico in the days leading up to his scrap with Smythe as he looks to regain a title he never actually lost.

A high profile Amateur title fight leads us back into the six fight Professional main card where we begin at a Catchweight of 160 pounds as Gerry Meuse (1-0, Sityodtong) returns to action for the first time since a successful pro debut in 2018. Cage Titans fans may remember the name as Gerry battled Zach "The Ripper" DiSabatino to a draw in their Amateur Lightweight title fight back in 2017 at Cage Titans 34. Meuse looks to leave Plymouth Saturday night in the win column when he meets the winless Josh Beauparlant (0-4) to ignite the professional portion of Cage Titans 57. Beauparlant or "Boppie" as he is called has not fought since 2013 and after a lengthy layoff his quest for his first professional victory won't get any easier when he meets Sityodtong's Meuse. I don't see "Boppie" making it out of the first round with the talented Gerry Meuse.

Former Cage Titans Amateur Bantamweight title Challenger and fan favorite Andrew "The Gladiator" Valdina (1-0) got his feet wet in the professional ranks at Cage Titans 56 scoring a first round Triangle Choke of "Cornflakes" Rob Fuller. Known more for his work on the feet as an Amateur, Valdina should get his chance to put his hands on display here when he meets 3-11 MMA fighter and pro boxer; Seth Basler. Basler is riding a current 8 fight losing streak inside the cage, but that doesn't begin to tell his story as he has squared off with some of the best 35ers and 45ers on the East Coast, including but not limited to; Rico DiScuillo, Manny Bermudez, Johnny Campbell, Jeff Perez and Rodrigo Almeida. It's "another day, another stud" for Basler Saturday night when he hopes to solve the offense of the talented Gunslinger; Andrew Valdina.

What started as a fun matchup on paper has turned into somewhat of an intriguing crossroads of careers as Matt "Ken Doll" Denning (8-16) and Aaron "Short Fuse" Hughes (2-3) throwdown here in the Lightweight division. For those following these two on social media, we have seen somewhat of a mutual respect developed between these guys in the lead up to their bout here at Cage Titans 57. Denning who is never one to turn down a conflict, has battled with some of the best fighters the region has to offer across his 24 fight professional career always showing up with style, grace and the talent to threaten a finish at any time. Hughes on the other hand has spent most of his career on a roller coaster looking to gain his footing and move himself into the Featherweight rankings here in New England. Hughes' work ethic cannot be denied as he lives and breathes for the sport, looking to improve his game on the daily. A win over a veteran like Matt Denning Saturday night could do a lot to propel Aaron up the rankings and into a good spot to begin his 2023 campaign. A victory over Denning is never a given, as the talented grappler poses a threat to shut your lights at any time with his slick submissions and a warrior attitude Denning isn't out of a fight until the final bell sounds, this should be a wildly entertaining bout from start to finish.

Maine's "Kill" Kam Arnold (2-0) has done his part to establish quite the fanbase south of his Maine roots as the ever exciting slugger makes his third start as a professional for the Cage Titans promotion Saturday night in search of his third consecutive first round knockout. When Kam's name hits the bill, asses hit seats, as the knockout artist wastes little time getting his hands on his opponents. Arnold takes a big step in competition this weekend when he meets New England veteran Will "Sriracha" Smith (3-5) who presents a clash in game plans to Kam's all out attack. Smith is a patient fighter who picks his openings and let's the fight come to him and though his record may not reflect his abilities, Smith has the talent to hang with the upper echelon of Bantamweights around. Although Smith finds himself on a current four fight skid, he will indeed be the toughest test to date for the upstart Mainer Arnold, as he continues his climb up the New England prospect rankings, looking to keep his unblemished record intact. Smith should be a great litmus test for Arnold, as I believe this is the most closely matched professional fight on the Cage Titans 57 docket.

We head to the Co-Main event next as "Slippery" Peter Barrett (13-6) continues to solidify his resume for first ballet Cage Titans Hall of Fame status when he looks for his third consecutive knockout as the pin drops on his 165 pound Catchweight scrap with 24 hour notice replacement; Kris "Easy Money" Berberich (5-9). Barrett has made no mistake about his intentions to find his way back to the UFC roster after a disappointing 0-2 run with the sports grandest promotion. And if there is one way to get the eyes of the UFC back on Barrett it's going to take more than just stacking up wins, he must do so in dramatic fashion. Barrett has done just that in his last two fights, backing up a first round Knockout of Spencer Higa at Cage Titans 50 with a third round KO of Jacob Bohn at Cage Titans 55. Originally slated to do battle with Marcus Andrusia Saturday night, Barrett will now square off with Berberich who makes the trek to Massachusetts from his home in Alaska, looking to dash the final UFC hopes of Barrett, in "Slippery Pete's" backyard.

UFC hopes remain alive in the Main Event at Cage Titans 57 when former Ultimate Fighter finalist Joe "Skeletor" Giannetti (13-4-1) looks to force the hand of UFC brass when he puts his Cage Titans Lightweight belt on the line against New England MMA veteran Saul "The Spider" Almeida (20-12). Since his departure from the Ultimate Fighter in 2018, Giannetti has done everything in his power to pave his way back to the UFC, fighting eleven times (7-3-1) and capturing the Cage Titans Lightweight and Welterweight straps along the way. Giannetti said it himself in the leadup to this fight with the seasoned Almeida; "The UFC wants to see me make 155, they want to see me fight good guys," and that is just what Giannetti intends to do here in the first Main Event of the year at Cage Titans 57.

Once a gauge to which all New England prospects could be measured, Saul Almeida has taken his licks against the likes of Matt Bessette, Rob Font, Calvin Kattar and Manny Bermudez and come out the other side. Almeida has been absent from the MMA cage since 2019 but has been polishing his hands in the boxing arena even since. Elevating his striking game and adding it to an already dangerous submission arsenal, Almeida should offer resistance for the Champion Giannetti wherever the fight may take place, but it's going to take more than resistance for Giannetti to walk away from Cage Titans 57 without his two Cage Titans Championship belts in toe. Giannetti vs. Almeida is an intriguing fight to kickoff 2023 the only way Cage Titans knows how; with a BANG!

Cage Titans 57 comes to you live from Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts Saturday night and is SOLD OUT, for those wishing to view the fisticuffs from the comforts of your own home a pay-per-view will be available by visiting the Cage Titans Facebook page.

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