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CES 66: Soukhamthath vs. Silva Bantamweight World Title - The Preview

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Jimmy Butchfield's Classic Entertainment and Sports is back home at Bally's Twin River Casino Friday night as CES MMA presents CES 66: Andre Soukhamthath vs. Diego Silva. It's been a while since we've seen CES at their home in Twin River Casino, following Casino renovations and Covid CES makes their return to Lincoln, Rhode Island for the first time since January of 2020. CES 66 is going to feel nostalgic from the venue down to the fight card, stacked with the regions best pros including the highly anticipated return of former CES Bantamweight Champion; Andre "The Asian Sensation" Soukhamthath (14-9). Soukhamthath returns to CES with his eyes on his former prize, the CES Bantamweight World title, when he meets Diego Silva in Friday night's Main Event!

CES has put together an absolute banger in the Co-Main event as the stakes remain high in the Welterweight division when hometown favorite and CES Superstar Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr. looks to capture CES gold for the first time when he welcomes Billy Goff to the CES cage, with the vacant CES Welterweight World title up for grabs. Next in the Bantamweight division Joey "KO King" Gomez (6-2) returns to the CES cage for the first time since his first round Knockout of Kin Moy at CES 28 in 2015. Gomez looks to put an emphatic end to a personal two fight skid, albiet in the UFC, when he welcomes the return of Valdimir Kazbekov to the CES cage. Kazbekov has gone 5-2 since his CES 36 loss to Marquis Brewster, his only other appearance on the New England MMA scene.

The remainder of the CES 66 fightcard is outlined by some of the region's most highly anticipated young prospects including 4-0 Featherweight Connor "The Controller" Matthews who makes his second CES appearance Friday night against ten fight veteran Keith Speed (5-5). Fellow Featherweight, Rhode Island's Tyrime Dasilva (1-0) looks to improve his professional record to 2-0 when he makes his second trip to the CES cage against Brazilian Eduardo Rodrigues (1-1) who comes in search of his first CES victory. We then move to the Lightweight division where Dasilva's Tri-Force MMA teammate; Dion Rubio (1-0) makes his promotional debut against professional newcomer; Florida's Bobby Casale (Pro Debut).

We round out the card with a pair of CES MMA newcomers; as former CES Boxer Travis "The Outlaw" Demko (1-0) straps up the 4oz CES gloves on for the first time when he meets Michigan's DaJuan Robinson (0-5) at Featherweight. And we kick off the evening in the Lightweight division with promising New Yorker; "Ruthless" Robert Varricchio (1-0) makes his CES debut against Cincinnati's Turner Williams (0-3). Opening bell for CES 66 is due to sound at 7 pm local time from Bally's Twin River Casino Friday night March 4th and will be streaming live on UFC Fight Pass. Below is a closer look at the entire eight fight CES 66 fight card, stay close to New England MMA on all media outlet throughout the weekend for the latest CES 66 coverage.

Robert Varricchio (1-0) vs. Turner Williams (0-3)


"Ruthless" Robert Varricchio

Age: 26

Fighting out of: Staten Island, New York

Affiliation: Tiger Schulmann's MMA

Record:1-0 (1 Knockout)

Last fight: First Round Knockout of Eric Pozun at Ring of Combat 74. (10/22/21)

Turner "Money Bag" Williams


Fighting out of: Cincinnati, Ohio


Record: 0-3 (3 Submission losses)

Last fight: Second Round Submission (Arm Triangle) to Ramil Kamilov at Showtime FC1. (2/11/22)

Breakdown: An exciting striker from Staten Island, New York "Ruthless" Rob Varricchio has tested himself in just about every striking discipline possible, from K-1 to Muay Thai to MMA, Rob is far more experienced than his 1-0 pro record would indicate. A product of one of the Northeast's finest MMA striking factories at Tiger Schulmann's MMA; Varricchio comes into this bout with a fair amount of prospect stock behind him. With a memorable performance in his CES debut Friday night against Ohio's Turner Williams, Varricchio hopes to throw his name in the ring with some of exciting young names in the CES Lightweight division. Williams is no stranger to big opportunities however, making stops with LFA and Anthony Pettis' Showtime FC before moving now to CES in search of his first pro win Friday night.

Travis Demko (1-0) vs. DaJuan Robinson (0-5)


Travis "The Outlaw" Demko

Age: 28

Fighting out of: Stoughton, Massachusetts

Affiliation: Lauzon MMA

Record:1-0 (1 Knockout)

Last fight: First Round Knockout of Raymond Yanez at Cage Titans: Combat Night II. (9/7/19)

DaJuan "The Stone Wolf" Robinson


Fighting out of: Detroit, Michigan


Record: 0-5 (3 Knockout losses)

Last fight: First Round Knockout loss to Nate Ghareeb at CES 63: Howard vs. Alvarez. (8/6/21)

Breakdown: Stoughton, Massachusetts' Travis Demko competed three times under the CES Boxing banner between 2015 and 2017 compiling a 2-1 record with the promotion during that span and an 8-1 professional record overall. Demko reignited his MMA career in 2019, after hanging up the boxing gloves, making his pro MMA debut for Cage Titans. Demko ends a two and a half year layoff from the cage Friday night, when he reunites with Jimmy Burchfield and CES at CES 66 against Detroit's DaJuan Robinson. Robinson showed up on the CES scene last time out against CES stud Nate Ghareeb, but a barrage of knees from Ghareeb at the end of the first round rendered Robinson unable to find the stool or his first professional victoryfor that matter. Robinson gets another shot at win number one Friday night against another stud striker in Travis "The Outlaw" Demko.

Dion Rubio (1-0) vs. Bobby Casale (Pro Debut)


Dion "Young Thunder" Rubio

Age: 26

Fighting out of: Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Affiliation: Tri-Force MMA

Record:1-0 (1 Submission)

Last fight: Second Round Submission (Guillotine) victory over Leo Laderia at Cage Titans 49. (8/28/21)

Bobby Casale


Fighting out of: Nassau County, New York

Affiliation: Sanford MMA/ Long Island MMA

Record: 0-0 (3-3 as an Amateur)

Last fight: Split-Decision loss to Armando Gjetja at Triton Fights 16. (12/13/19)

Breakdown: A fast riser up the Lightweight division with Cage Titans FC, Dion Rubio would eventually challenge current CES Lightweight standout Eddy George for their promotions Ammy Lightweight strap. The result; a decision loss that remains the only hiccup of Dion's promising young MMA career. The first of three Tri-Force MMA prospects competing Friday night, Rubio makes his highly anticipated CES debut in front of the Rhode Island native's hometown crowd at CES 66 when he welcomes Bobby Casale to the New England MMA scene. Veteran of a six fight amateur career with the Long Island based Triton Fights promotion, New York's Bobby Casale ends a personal two year layoff at CES 66 when he makes his pro debut against highly touted grappler; Dion "Young Thunder" Rubio.

Tyrime Da Silva (1-0) vs. Eduardo Rodrigues (1-1)


Tyrime "The Dream" Da Silva

Age: 29

Fighting out of: Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Affiliation: Tri-Force MMA

Record:1-0 (1 Submission)

Last fight: First Round Submission (Guillotine Choke) of Josh Hardy at CES 65: De Castro v. Williams. (11/7/21)

Eduardo Rodrigues


Fighting out of: Lee, Massachusetts

Affiliation: X-Team

Record: 1-1 (1 Submission)

Last fight: First Round Knockout loss to Nate Ghareeb at CES 64: Bessette v. Dela Cruz. (9/17/21)

Breakdown: The next Tri-Force prospect to hit the CES cage Friday night Pawtucket's Tyrime "The Dream" Dasilva has become accustomed to finishing fights with his dangerous submission game during his young undefeated career. He continued that trend last time out at CES 65 against Josh Hardy making it four career MMA fights and four submission finishes. Dasilva looks to keep that streak alive Friday night in his own backyard against Massachusetts' Eduardo Rodrigues. We saw Rodrigues fall victim to a vicious first round Nate Ghareeb Knockout last time out at CES 64. Rodrigues looks to right the ship against another top prospect at CES 66 when he strives to become the only one of DaSilva's opponents to remain conscious for longer than three and a half minutes, in any of Dasilva's sanctioned bouts.

Connor Matthews (4-0) vs. Keith Speed (5-5)


Connor "The Controller" Matthews

Age: 29

Fighting out of: Freetown, Massachusetts

Affiliation: Lauzon MMA

Record: 4-0 (1 Knockout, 3 Submissions)

Last fight: First Round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Jay Ellis at Cage Titans 48. (7/10/21)

Keith Speed

Age: 32

Fighting out of: Oakland Park, Florida

Affiliation: American Top Team Palm Beach Gardens

Record: 5-5 (2 Knockouts, 2 Submissions)

Last fight: First Round Submission (Triangle Choke) of Reginald Mack II at Combat Night Pro. (11/6/21)

Breakdown: Lauzon MMA's Connor Matthews may very well be the next big time MMA prospect in the region, the only problem with that, people are not lining up at his door to fight him. Pair that with the uncertainty of local MMA competition during the pandemic, a myriad of cancelled bouts and the now 29 year old Matthews has entered the cage just twice in the last two years. Not the optimal output for such a promising prospect deep in the heart of his physical prime. But the inactivity is no fault of Connor's, as he always shows up ready to perform; 4 first round finishes since turning pro and just around four and a half minutes of total cage time. Matthews looks to remain flawless Friday night at Twin River Casino in his second campaign with CES MMA as he welcomes Florida's Keith Speed to the New England landscape for the first time. Speed racked up back to back wins to finish off 2021 including a first round submission last time out, this very well could be the first actual test of Matthews career...needless to say we will know a lot more about the trend of Connor Matthews Featherweight stock following the outcome of this one.

Joey Gomez (6-2) vs. Vladimir Kazbekov (6-4)


Joey "KO King" Gomez

Age: 35

Fighting out of: Nashua, New Hampshire

Affiliation: Karasu Tengu Academy

Record: 6-2 (6 Knockouts)

Last fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Jose Quinonez at UFC Fight Night 94. (9/17/16)

Vladimir Kazbekov

Age: 29

Fighting out of: Ontario, Canada

Affiliation: Modern Vision MMA

Record: 6-4 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)

Last fight: Unanimous Decision Victory over Eric Wilson at BTC 9. (2/29/20)

Breakdown: They don't call him the "KO King" for nothing, in KTA's Joey Gomez' six professional victories, all six have come by way of Knockout. Gomez's first round knockout of Kin Moy at CES 28 in 2015 resulted in Joey signing a late notice deal with the UFC to fight former CES Bantamweight Rob Font at UFC Fight Night 81 in January of 2016. Gomez would suffer defeat at the hands of the rising Font and would go on to drop a Unanimous Decision to Jose Quinonez at UFC Fight Night 94 before leaving the competition side of the sport for close to six years. Joey and long time friend and training partner Walter Smith Cotito opened their gym Karasu Tengu Academy in Nashua, New Hampshire where the former UFC Bantamweight Gomez rekindled his fire for competition. Gomez welcomes Russian born Mixed Martial Artist Vladimir Kazbekov to the CES cage for the second time. Kazbekov never shied away from stiff competition as his four losses have come to Jacob Bohn, Tyler Wilson, Tony Gravely and Marquis Brewster, at CES 36 in his first promotional appearance. Kazbekov finds himself across the CES cage from another killer in former UFC Bantamweight Joey Gomez Friday night in Gomez's MMA return.

Gary Balletto Jr. (7-2) vs. Billy Goff (5-2)

Welterweight World Title (Vacant)

Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr.

Age: 27

Fighting out of: Cranston, Rhode Island

Affiliation: Tri-Force MMA

Record: 7-2 (2 Knockouts, 5 Submissions)

Last fight: First Round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Daniel Frunza at CES 64: Bessette v. Dela Cruz. (9/17/21)

Billy Goff

Age: 23

Fighting out of: Groton, Connecticut

Affiliation: Dexter MMA

Record: 5-2 (3 Knockouts)

Last fight: First Round TKO (Punches) of Marty Navis at Cage Titans 50 to capture the Cage Titans Welterweight Title. (11/6/21)

Breakdown: There seems to be a trend here, every time a Billy Goff fight gets announced I get extremely excited to talk about it...and this is no exception; Enter Cranston's Gary "Batman" Balletto Jr., the third member of the Tri-Force MMA fight team competing Friday night, and you have a matchup for the ages, as well as a CES Welterweight World Title! New England's #1 Ranked Welterweight Billy Goff will get his opportunity to grab back to back regional titles as the 23 year old makes his bid for the "big leagues." Standing in his way another young man, on the fringe of a call up himself, former CES Welterweight World Title Challenger, CES fan favorite and #3 Ranked Welterweight in New England; Gary Balletto Jr. Both these guys are finishers so I would imagine we will need far less than the 25 minutes allotted to decide this one. On the feet you have Balletto, a pedigreed boxer with one punch knockout power against a brawler in Billy Goff, Goff is always willing to take a little to make it a street fight. On the ground Balletto possesses a slick submission game, capable of shutting his opponents lights out from any position, but position will be hard to come by against the wrestling and heavy top game of Billy Goff. This fight is a coin flip in my opinion and will be a true crowning of the best Welterweight in New England. I'm not making my call on this one until that coin comes to complete rest and a New CES Welterweight World Champion is minted.

Andre Soukhamthath (14-9) vs. Diego Silva (13-6)

Bantamweight World Title (Vacant)

Andre "The Asian Sensation" Soukhamthath

Age: 33

Fighting out of: Providence, Rhode Island

Affiliation: American Top Team

Record:14-9 (8 Knockouts, 3 Submissions)

Last fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Jose Quinonez at XFC 44: Soukhamthath v. Quinonez. (5/28/21)

Diego "Magrinho" Silva

Age: 28

Fighting out of: Orlando, Florida

Affiliation: Fusion X-cel

Record: 13-6 (2 Knockouts, 5 Submissions)

Last fight: Third Round Submission (Rear Naked Choke) of Marcone Muinz at SFT 30. (10/23/21)

Breakdown: When Andre "The Asian Sensation" Soukhamthath laid down his CES Bantamweight World Title in 2017 to sign with the UFC some wondered if we would ever see Andre back in a New England MMA cage. Andre proved that belonged at the sports elite level picking up victories over Jonathan Martinez and a second round stoppage of "Cool Hand" Luke Sanders, however Soukhamthath found himself on the wrong side of judges decisions in his other five bouts with the UFC, two of those decisions being split. Following a two fight ride with XFC (1-1) Andre finds himself back where it all started, a decade ago, with the organization that groomed him into one of the most dominant Bantamweights in regional history. With the CES Bantamweight belt once again vacant, following Champion Jay Perrin's signing with the UFC, Andre will have an opportunity to capture the strap that once resided in the Soukhamthath corner. In his return Andre welcomes former Jay Perrin foe; Diego Silva to the CES cage for the very first time. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt with five submissions on his resume, most coming in his native Brazil, a dangerous opponent no matter the situation Silva will be best served forcing Andre into grappling exchanges and staying away from "The Asian Sensation's" creative striking and highlight reel, fight ending sequences. CES 66 has itself a high level Bantamweight main event, and I believe this one is going to be an all out WAR.


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