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CES 64 Preview: Bessette vs. Dela Cruz Lightweight Title; Smith vs. Perrin Bantamweight Title

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES MMA) returns this Friday night from the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut with two World Title fights headlining a banger of a card at CES 64 featured on UFC Fight Pass. Friday night Hartford's own Matt "The Mangler" Bessette (24-10) will look to become the promotion's first two division champion, as the current CES Featherweight World Champion makes the jump to 155 pounds, to challenge Hawaii's Ryan Dela Cruz (12-7) for the vacant CES Lightweight World Title. In Friday evening's co-feature recently crowned CES Bantamweight World Champion; Josh "That Guy" Smith (10-6) looks to defend his CES belt for the first time against New England's #1 ranked Bantamweight; Jay "The Joker" Perrin (9-4).

CES Fan Favorite; Cranston, Rhode Island's Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr. (6-2) looks to continue his rise up the Welterweight ladder as he welcomes CES newcomer; Daniel "Tigano" Frunza (4-1). One of New England's toughest pound for pound female fighters Alexandra "The Great" Ballou (2-1) will make her anxiously awaited CES MMA debut Friday night against New York's Gabriella Gulfin (2-3). CES veteran Justin "The Fort" Sumter (7-4) returns to the CES cage where he is unbeaten in three previous trips, and welcomes the promotional debut of talented Armenian Albert Tadevosyan (7-1-1). West Haven's Eddy George (3-0) will look to keep his unblemished professional record in tact when he clashes with Bellator MMA veteran; Rodolfo "The Crocodile" Barcellos (1-1). Massachusetts' Nate Ghareeb (3-1) makes the quick turnaround following his knockout of DaJuan Robinson at CES 63 when he takes on Brazil's Eduardo Rodrigues (1-0). Connecticut's Harris Bonfiglio (2-1) will end a personal two year layoff as he awaits the professional debut of Tennessee's Kyle Linder (5-0 as an Amateur, Valor Amateur Flyweight Champion). Also; a teammate of Matt Bessette at Underdog MMA in Hartford; highly regarded Flyweight; David "Spider Monkey" Durao (5-2 as an Amateur) will make his first walk to the CES cage in his professional debut against Israel "El Huracan" Galvan (1-2).

CES MMA 64 streams live on UFC Fight Pass Friday night beginning at 8 pm from the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. CES will once again showcase the region's top up and comers on the biggest regional stage imaginable; streaming on UFC Fight Pass with the eyes of the MMA World watching. Stay tuned to for all your CES 64 coverage and continue below for a detailed breakdown of all seven of Friday's matchups as we anticipate non stop action from CES 64!

Charra Phon (Debut) vs. Aaron Reese (0-2)



Fighting out of: Massachusetts

Affiliation: Ultimate MMA

Record: Debut (1-1 as an Amateur)

Last Fight: Split decision victory over Devon Cristie at Premier FC 28.


Fighting out of: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Affiliation: Jackson Wink

Record: 0-2 (2-0 as an Amateur)

Last Fight: First round Knockout (Punches) loss to Isa Dalipaj at CFFC 95.

Breakdown: One look at Aaron Reese will immediately have you wondering how the Jackson Wink product is still searching for his first professional victory. Reese looks every bit the part of a Bantamweight contender but following losses to Will Smith and Isa Dalipaj to open his professional campaign, Reese is in serious need of a win on a big stage, he gets that chance Friday night against the pro debuting Charra Phon. Charra Phon made two Amateur starts here on the New England scene going 1-1 in that span, finding himself on both sides of split judges decisions. Phon turns pro Friday night against a hungry Aaron Reese as these two Bantamweights hope to keep the verdict on this one out of the judges hands.

David Durao (Debut) vs. Israel Galvan (1-2)


Age: 31

Fighting out of: Hartford, Connecticut

Affiliation: Fighting Arts Academy/Underdog MMA

Record: Debut (5-2 as an Amateur)

Last Fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Kareem Askew at ECF 31: Warriors Challenge.

Israel "El Huracan" Galvan

Age: 21

Fighting out of: Los Angeles, California

Affiliation: KD MMA

Record: 1-2 (1 Submission)

Last Fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Cody Davis at Global Legion FC 17.

Breakdown: Underdog MMA's David Durao closed out his Amateur career in July at EFC in Jamaica Queens, New York by picking up his fourth consecutive victory with a decision over Kareem Askew. Perennially ranked amongst the top Flyweights in New England "Spider Monkey" is extremely eager to be making his Professional debut for CES MMA, in the town that he grew up in; Hartford, Connecticut. Durao explained to Steve Domenico on The Room Podcast last week how he comes into this fight "more prepared than ever" as he greets a talented young kid; the 21 year old Israel Galvan. Galvan comes to the East Coast as a highly regarded grappling prospect and will undoubtedly be a tough out for the hometown favorite David Durao. Durao promises "serious violence" in his pro debut on UFC Fight Pass Friday night, as he looks to be the first man to finish Israel Galvan inside three rounds.

Harris Bonfiglio (2-1) vs. Kyle Lindner (Debut)


Age: 29

Fighting out of: Gilford, Connecticut

Affiliation: Ultimate MMA

Record: 2-1 (2 Submissions)

Last Fight: First round Knockout loss to Jornel Lugo at CES 58: De Jesus v. Lozano.

Kyle Lindner

Age: 24

Fighting out of: Knoxville, Tennessee

Affiliation: Shield Systems MMA

Record: Debut (5-0 as an Amateur)

Last Fight: First round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) over Shamar Perez at Valor Fighting Challenge 78.

Breakdown: Ultimate MMA's Harris Bonfiglio suffered the first loss of his professional career last time out, winding up on the wrong side of a Jornel Lugo Knockout at CES 58. Bonfiglio took two years away to clear the cobwebs of his first professional defeat and makes his return Friday night, looking for his first victory inside the CES cage. Bonfiglio is saddled with a tough task as he meets Knoxville, Tennessee submission specialist and Valor Amateur Flyweight Champion Kyle Lindner, who makes his CES and professional debut Friday night. Lindner finished his Amateur career 5-0 with four submissions to go along with his Valor Flyweight crown. Bonfiglio will have his hands full as he looks to get back on track in his second CES appearance against the grappling savvy Lindner, who looks to impress in his pro debut on UFC Fight Pass and send his prospect status into orbit.

Nate Ghareeb (3-1) vs. Eduardo Rodrigues (1-0)


Age: 28

Fighting out of: Southampton, Massachusetts

Affiliation: Fighting Arts Academy

Record: 3-1 (3 Knockouts)

Last Fight: First round Knockout of DaJuan Robinson at CES 63: Howard v. Alvarez.

Eduardo Rodrigues


Fighting out of: Lee, Massachusetts by way of Brazil


Record: 1-0 (1 Submission)

Last Fight: First round Submission (Anaconda Choke) of Alassandro Conceicao at Arena Global 4.

Breakdown: Massachusetts native Nate Ghareeb is starting to raise some eyebrows in the New England Featherweight division. Ghareeb bounced back from the only loss of his pro career (a decision loss to highly touted prospect Cody Law at Bellator 256) the only way he knows how, with his third first round knockout (of DaJuan Robinson at CES 63) in as many pro wins. Ghareeb guns for the fourth knockout of his career Friday night against a relatively unknown commodity in Eduardo Rodrigues. Rodrigues looks to capture his second professional victory in his CES debut at the expense of the fast rising Ghareeb.

Eddy George (3-0) vs. Rodolfo Barcellos (1-1)


Age: 29

Fighting out of: West Haven, Connecticut

Affiliation: Fighting Arts Academy

Record: 3-0 (3 Knockouts)

Last Fight: First round Knockout of Tony Jackson at CES 63: Howard v. Alvarez.


Fighting out of: Brooklyn, New York

Affiliation: Xtreme Ambition MMA

Record: 1-1 (1 Submission)

Last Fight: First round Knockout loss to Vinicius De Jesus at Bellator 216.

Breakdown: CES matchmakers keep lining em up and West Haven's Eddy George keeps sitting em down, Raymond Yanez, Frank Mazepa and Tony Jackson have all faced the same fate when locked in the CES cage with Eddy George; Lights out round 1. This time it's Brooklyn New York's Rodalfo Barcellos who is assigned the task of lasting more than five minutes in the cage with the heavy handed George. A slick submission specialist; Barcellos could pose a threat to the unblemished record of George if this fight hits the mat, but on the feet Barcellos has had a tough time dealing with heavy handed strikers, falling victim to the powerful boxing of Vinicius De Jesus in the first round at Bellator 216 his last time out. George should be taking a page out of De Jesus' gameplan Friday night as I expect George to be in the face of Barcellos, throwing bombs, from bell to bell, however long that may be.

Alexandra Ballou (2-1) vs. Gabriella Gulfin (2-3)

Women's Bantamweight

Age: 29

Fighting out of: Bristol, Connecticut

Affiliation: Underdog MMA

Record: 2-1 (2 Knockouts)

Last Fight: Second round Knockout of Christina Adcock at Valor Fighting Challenge 83.

Age: 29

Fighting out of: New York

Affiliation: Class One MMA

Record: 2-3 (1 Submission)

Last Fight: Split decision loss to Diana Avsaragova at Bellator 262.

Breakdown: We knew the day would come when Underdog MMA's Alexandra "The Great" Ballou finally made her CES debut, initially slated to make that debut at CES 61 last year, it just feels like a long time coming for the promising Bantamweight to finally be locked inside the CES cage. Ballou has proven to be one of the most dangerous women in the New England region and it's only fitting to to have her skills showcased with New England's premier MMA promotion live on UFC Fight Pass. Standing across the cage from Ballou Friday night will be New York's Gabriella Gulfin, a veteran of both Bellator MMA and fellow UFC Fight Pass partner CFFC, Gulfin looks to the bright lights of CES MMA for somewhat of a career resurgence. Following a 2-0 start to open her professional career, Gulfin has since dropped three straight outings albeit against some stiff competition; Erin Blanchfield, Jasmine Jasudavicius and Diana Avsaragova. Gulfin's search for her third professional victory won't come any easier Friday night at CES 64 against a fast rising Alexandra Ballou.

Justin Sumter (7-4) vs. Albert Tadevosyan (7-1-1)


Age: 31

Fighting out of: Springfield, Massachusetts

Affiliation: Fighting Arts Academy

Record: 7-4 (1 Knockout, 4 Submissions)

Last Fight: First round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) loss to Romero Cotton at Bellator 254.

Albert "K-9" Tadevosyan

Age: 29

Fighting out of: Seattle, Washington

Affiliation: Combat Sport & Fitness

Record: 7-1-1 (3 Knockouts, 2 Submissions)

Last Fight: Third round Submission (Kimura) loss to Ben Fodor at Rumble on the Ridge 36.

Breakdown: Justin Sumter was nearly on the outside looking in when his original opponent for CES 64; Shane O'Shea pulled out just over a week out from fight night. However CES matchmakers wasted little time scouring the country to find a replacement to face the eager to return Sumter. On the other end of the accepting phone call; 29 year old Armenian prospect Albert Tadevosyan, who will be looking to make a comeback of his own Friday night, when he ends a nearly five year hiatus from competition at CES 64 against the local favorite Sumter. On paper this is a very interesting matchup, Tadevosyan, a natural Welterweight, will be coming up in weight to meet Sumter at 185 pounds, while size should prove to be in the favor of Sumter, Tadevosyan has fought bigger opponents in the past with little issue (see his 2015 First Round Ground and Pound finish of former UFC Middleweight Dennis Hallman at MMA Summer Showdown 2). However Sumter never shys away from tough competition, consistently testing himself against the best opponents promotions have to offer, and this fight against Tadevosyan will be no different, as the versitile Armenian will test every aspect of Sumter's capabilities when the cage door locks on their bout in Hartford Friday evening.

Gary Balletto Jr. (6-2) vs. Daniel Frunza (4-1)


Age: 26

Fighting out of: Cranston, Rhode Island

Affiliation: Tri-Force MMA

Record: 6-2 (2 Knockouts, 4 Submissions)

Last Fight: Second round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Dahlan Wilson at CES 62: Paiva v. Smith.

Daniel "Tigano" Frunza

Age: 27

Fighting out of: Romania

Affiliation: Black House Santiago

Record: 4-1 (3 Knockouts)

Last Fight: First round Knockout of Enzo Orellana at MMA Fighter 3 (2019).

Breakdown: Cranston's Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr. checked all the boxes at CES 62 in Orlando, Florida when he put a three year layoff (following a brutal knockout at the hands of Jeremiah Wells) behind him notching his fourth career submission victory, his sixth victory overall, with a Second Round Rear Naked Choke over a very game Dahlan Wilson. New England MMA fans would breathe a big sigh of relief when Balletto dispatched Wilson in the second round, it appears as though Balletto is back to his top prospect form as he looks to regain national recognition Friday night against Italian striker Daniel Frunza. Frunza has racked up a 4-1 record across 5 years as a professional competing in both his native Italy as well as Chile, notching three career wins by way of Knockout. I don't think there is any question that Frunza will be a tough challenge for Balletto, but Balletto must pass these kinds of tests if he hopes to one day earn his shot at the UFC. An emphatic win over a talented Daniel Frunza at CES 64 Friday night and Balletto's stock should be trending higher than ever!

Josh Smith (10-6) vs. Jay Perrin (9-4)

Bantamweight World Title

Age: 33

Fighting out of: Coconut Creek, Florida

Affiliation: American Top Team

Record: 10-6 (3 Knockouts, 5 Submissions)

Last fight: Second round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) victory over Dinis Paiva at CES 62 to capture the vacant CES Bantamweight Title.

Age: 28

Fighting out of: Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Lowell, Massachusetts

Affiliation: Syndicate MMA

Record: 9-4 (2 Knockouts, 3 Submissions)

Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Diego Silva at Cage Titans 47. (01/25/20)

Breakdown: Anyone who has known Jay "The Joker" Perrin over the last half decade knows that he has been eager to prove that he is the best Bantamweight to come out of New England since Rob Font, and in Jay's eye the only way for him to truly prove he is the best 135 pound New Englander, is to hang the CES Bantamweight strap beside his Cage Titans Bantamweight strap. Well when Josh "That Guy" Smith showed up at CES 62 and rained on Perrin's "Brother" Dinis "Sweetbread" Paiva's CES farewell, while capturing the then vacant 135 pound strap with a second round Rear Naked Choke of "Sweetbread"; Jay developed a little more motivation to "Get this one back" for his good friend Dinis Paiva. Perrin discussed how his move to Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas has reinvented him as a fighter not only physically but mentally when he sat down with Steve Domenico last week to discuss this opportunity.

"I'm Going to tactically destroy him." Perrin promised Domenico of the current CES Bantamweight champion and American Top Team product Josh Smith. Which sounds like a great plan, but could be easier said than done against uber talented Title holder Josh "That Guy" Smith. At 33 years of age Smith knows his time has to be now, what started with an upset of Dinis Paiva at CES 62 on UFC Fight Pass now appears to be his clear path to the UFC serving as CES MMA's Bantamweight Champion, that dream could become much more like reality Friday night if he can come into New England and stave off New England's top Bantamweight by defending his CES Bantamweight crown for the World to see on the UFC's streaming platform. I don't think there is anyway the UFC can deny whoever leaves with the Belt Friday night, whether Smith retains or Perrin completes his piece of the puzzle, one of these Bantamweights will leave with a belt and a phone call!

Matt Bessette (24-10) vs. Ryan Dela Cruz (12-7)

Vacant Lightweight World Title

Age: 36

Fighting out of: Hartford, Connecticut

Affiliation: Underdog MMA

Record: 24-10 (8 Knockouts, 8 Submissions)

Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory loss to Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator 253.

Age: 36

Fighting out of: Hawaii

Affiliation: 808 Fight Factory

Record: 12-7 (5 Knockouts, 1 Submission)

Last fight: First round Knockout (Punches) of Sergio Quinones at Destiny MMA (02/23/20).

Breakdown: Let's face it, if you've read this far you're probably a die-hard New England MMA fan, and if you're a die-hard New England MMA fan, you were probably hoping to read about Matt Bessette's heated rivalry with Bruce Boyington coming to fruition for the CES Lightweight World Title at CES 64. Well.. we all know what happened to that matchup but we knew that would not stop CES MMA from finding Bessette a dance partner, as the Hartford native looks to be the first man ever to hold CES Gold in two weight divisions, simultaneously at CES 64. Bessette discussed the situation surrounding the change in opponents and what he expects from his new opponent; Ryan Dela Cruz on last weeks episode of The Room Podcast with Steve Domenico. Bessette tips his cap to Dela Cruz for being an exciting fighter, and a worthy opponent, but makes it clear he does not plan on leaving the Connecticut Convention Center without making history Friday night.

The Slugging Hawaiian Ryan Dela Cruz has spent the majority of his decade long professional career fighting on the regional circuit in his native Hawaii on his way to being ranked the #11 Lightweight within his island home by With five knockouts across his 12 professional victories there is little doubt that Dela Cruz possesses fight ending power in his hands, coupled with the grit typically displayed by fighters from the islands should at least add some entertainment value to this main event. But sometimes you just gotta face the facts; Bessette is better than Dela Cruz everywhere and although a chin and some heavy hands can make any fight interesting, I believe we see Bessette shine bright Friday night when the bell rings on the CES 64 main event. I picture Bessette going out, in front of his hometown crowd, for a promotion that he has been the heartbeat of over the past several years, displaying why he is still one of the top unsigned talents in the country and capturing his second CES MMA Crown. While the New England MMA fans may have loved to see Bessette vs. Boyintgon in this spot, one thing is for certain; New England MMA fans are in for a heavy dose of Matt Bessette at CES 64 Friday night, live on UFC Fight Pass!


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