After a 10 year professional MMA run under the CES banner, Dinis "Sweetbread" Paiva (13-9) has left the gloves in the cage and retired from competition. Paiva ran into a juggernaut on Saturday night in Orlando, Florida, as Josh "That Guy" Smith (10-6) proved to be the better fighter, claiming a rear naked choke victory at 4:01 into the 2nd round.
Paiva looked good in the opening frame, clipping Smith with an uppercut that send the American Top Team product stumbling backwards, but Smith was able to recover and gain his wits. Smith seemed to gain momentum as the 2nd round carried on - busting up up Paiva's nose midway through the frame, sending a river of blood from Paiva's nose to the CES canvas. Once the nose was broken it really turned the tides in Smith's favor. "That Guy" eventually was able to take the back of Paiva, securing a body-lock, and eventually slipping in the forearm under the chin of Paiva, marking the end of a storied career for Paiva within the CES cage.
Paiva grabbed the mic in the cage after the official decision was announced, and gave a heart-felt, emotional good-bye to the fans in attendance and watching on UFC FightPass. His final gesture as a professional MMA fighter was to leave his gloves inside of the cage, and walking out of the cage for the last time as a competitor. I think I speak for all of us here in New England when I say, thank you Dinis for all you've given to us over the last 10 years.
It wasn't all bad news for New England based fighters on the CES 62 card, as Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr. (6-2) made his triumphant return to the MMA cage after a 3 year layoff. Balletto didn't look like he missed a beat, throwing crisp strikes before locking in a rear naked choke at 2:26 into the 2nd round and forcing a tap from Dahlen Wilson (3-4). "Batman" showed what they hype is all about, and that his 3 year layoff was an opportunity for him to improve his game. Congrats on a huge comeback win for Gary Balletto Jr.!
The last New England based fighter on the card was making his pro debut after an undefeated amateur career, as Yuri "The Russian Polar Bear" Panferov (1-0) made a serious statement against a game opponent. Panferov was able to dominate the grappling game against Gregory Smith (0-2), and eventually locked up another rear naked choke at 4:24 of the very first round. The Ultimate MMA product had a lot of hype behind him after going 5-0 as an amateur and being crowned New England's top ranked amateur light heavyweight. Keep an eye out for Panferov in the near future, as he has a legitimate chance of making waves at the highest levels of the sport.
It was an event that saw many of the scheduled fights fall off for one reason or another, but you have to applaud the efforts of CES for taking their show on the road. It wasn't heavily ladened with New England based fighters, and there were plenty of curveballs thrown at the Burchfields on the lead up to this event, but they were able to pull it off. Dinis Paiva has been a staple of the New England MMA scene for a decade, and it's fitting that he's able to leave his gloves in the CES cage; the promotion that he's fought for 21 out of his 22 professional fights. It wasn't the way that he had planned on the night ending, but regardless, Paiva is a 1st ballot New England MMA hall of famer when the votes are cast. Congrats on an amazing career Dinis!