CES 71 went down last night (Thursday) at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI. The six fight main card consisted on some awesome scraps and some new CES World Champions. The card lost a couple of fights due to weight issues and injuries otherwise we'd have a couple more awesome fights to write about. Hopefully we see the Gary Balletto Jr. vs. Pat Casey fight as well as the Eddy George title fight at an upcoming CES event. These two fights as well as a couple more anticipated CES fights could really make an awesome card for CES to ring in the New Year with.
The first fight featured the pro day debut of Massachusetts's own Jon Ciampa. Across the cage from him was the 0-1 Jerell Nettles. Ciampa started the fight with a lot of energy and came out fast to get things started. The fight only stayed on the feet for a short period of time before Ciampa was working some ground and pound. The fight went back and fourth as both fighters threw some shots and ultimately tried to improve their position. Eventually, Jon Ciampa was able to find the neck of Jerell Nettles and technically submit him via guillotine choke, 2:17 into Round 1. Jon Ciampa gets his professional career started off on a good note and improves to 1-0. He will look to keep the streak going into 2023.
As the night went on, we saw Shane Dillehay and Kemil Meler lock heads in the second fight of the evening. Both of these fighters were ready to go and really brought the intensity to Ballys Twin River Casino. Dillehay's hometown fans from Providence definitely popped out to support him as the crowd was electric for the introduction of Shane. This fight didn't last long as the energy of the crowd and the energy within Shane Dillehay had something in common: urgency. Shane went in there with an urgent mindset and made quick work of Kemil Meler. Dillehay got his opponent to the mat quickly and immediately let the ground and pound rain down. Midway through the first round, referee Bryan Miner didn't see much coming from Meler and ended the fight. Dillehay improved to 1-0 with a great performance and a great fan base ready to follow him and his career through the ranks of MMA.
Next up was the up-and-coming Russian Polar Bear, Yuri Panferov as he took on the Missouri native, Brian Imes. Panferov entered the cage 3-0 and Imes entered 8-13. Taking into consideration the power and strength behind Panferov, many predicted this fight to be quick; thinking that the hunger as well as strength and power of Panferov would just be too much. I personally thought we had a scrap on our hands as these two same out SWINGIN' hard. It was one of those high intensity starting moments where each guy throws a couple haymakers and maybe 1 or 2 connect. One of those "Oh...shit" moments. As soon as Yuri landed one good overhand, Imes ended up with his back to the canvas and Panferov worked to get his full mount where he then immediately bashed the face of Imes into the canvas and referee Kevin MacDonald had no other option but to waive this one off. Yuri Panferov improved to 4-0 with a quick victory over Brian Imes. The Russian Polar Bear made a comment about the CES Light Heavyweight strap after the fight as that opportunity can't be too far down the road for Yuri. As long as Yuri can keep the momentum going into 2023, he will eventually progress towards the opportunity of fighting in a bigger promotion.
The fourth fight of the night was the first one to make it past the first round. Rhode Island's undefeated Dion Rubio made his return to the CES cage and the man standing across from him was Utah's Kaecy Raddon. One thing I realized as Raddon and his cornermen walked to the octagon was that Bobby King, a Bellator lightweight was in Raddon's corner. Bobby's been on an absolute tear within that division. Kaecy Raddon was also undefeated coming into this fight. Round 1 started off with some striking exchanges and I immediately picked up on the fact that Raddon's striking was impressive. It didn't take long for Raddon to make Dion Rubio, his opponent, realize this as well. Rubio was looking for takedowns early. He got one early on and worked to better his posture and position while on top but Raddon's defense didn't make it easy to advance at all. Dion tried for a heel hook on the ground as well but once again, the defense of Kaecy was tough. Shortly after, Rubio made his second submission attempt with a choke but had no success with it. Great round, Kaecy looked sharp and I gave him the close, close round, 10-9.
The second round started with some striking exchanges before they ended up in the clinch and Rubio tried to sneak in a standing guillotine which he was able to sink in pretty deep and sit down with. The crowd was certain he had it and was cheering while waiting for Raddon to tap. Even to my surprise, Raddon never tapped and made his way out of what was a super tight submission attempt. At this point, it was clear that both fighters were running out of gas. Eventually, Raddon ended up in mount on top of Rubio and lets his heavy ground and pound rain down. Kaecy Raddon finished Rubio via ground and pound and referee Bryan Miner waived the contest off due to TKO. Dion Rubio suffered his first taste of defeat in his professional career as he moved to 3-1 and his opponent, Kaecy Raddon remained undefeated and improved to 3-0.
The co-main event was the first of two title fights under the CES banner. This particular bout turned into the CES Lightweight Championship when the original fight between Eddy George and Angel Alverez was cancelled due to the fact that Alverez didn't make weight. The new title fight between "Nasty" Nate Ghareeb and "The Mexican Muscle", Antonio Castillo was finalized at weigh ins the day before to replace the cancelled fight. Both men stepped up to the plate and gave it their all in this title fight even though they had been preparing for a featherweight matchup.
They came out in the first round feeling each other out, getting their ranges figured out, and ultimately preparing for championship rounds. This fight started off back and fourth with some punches and kicks. Nate then had Castillo pinned against the cage as he was looking to advance position. Nate starts dropping some elbows to the face of Castillo as they're in the clinch. Castillo learns that he doesn't want to feel these slicing elbows so he gets out of the clinch. The intensity of the fight slowly picks up until the bell rings with some striking exchanges. I gave the round to Ghareeb, 10-9 but it was very close.
The second round started with some kickboxing exchanges before another takedown attempt by Ghareeb was stuffed. Nate threw some combinations before he finally got Castillo Jr. to the mat with a takedown. Nate worked his position and out of nowhere secured the leg of Castillo Jr. and submitted him with the not-so-common Suloev stretch. I had never seen this submission before but it was definitely impressive and even more impressive when Ghareeb noted in his post fight interview that he had seen it on YouTube the week before and wanted to give it a shot when he knew he had the position in this fight. Very, very cool submission by "Nasty" Nate who was crowned the CES Lightweight Champion. See the quick interview by NEMMA's Dylan Napoleone below as Nate describes his next intentions as he works towards the UFC.
Also, after the fight, Castillo Jr. announced his retirement from MMA. He expressed some more and made some remarks about this decision in the video below. He also noted a possible boxing career on his Instagram.
Finally, it was time for the main event of the evening as Massachusett's native Mitch Raposo welcomed Florida's Flavio Carvalho to the CES cage to battle it out for the CES Flyweight Championship. This fight started on the feet and hardly ever left the feet. The UFC Ultimate Fighter vet in Raposo found out early that this guy didn't compare on the feet and that he'd be able to piece this guy apart. Mitch's leg kicks were also doing a number on the front leg of Carvalho. Mitch's leg kick was very effective through the first round. The fight started with some good combinations coming from both before Mitch picked Flavio up twice in the round and totally just dumped him onto the canvas before letting him up both times, just instilling the fact that he will not miss a takedown but will piece Flavio up on the feet as well. I don't think Mitch saw a need to mess around on the mat but wanted to express his dominance anyway. Mitch looked very, very sharp in Round 1 with his takedowns and striking.
The second round consisted of two things....a big left hook by Raposo and an even bigger right hand that sent Flavio into another universe. The second round lasted less than 20 seconds as Raposo became the CES Flyweight Champion with this vicious KO.
Mitch has his eyes set on making it back to the UFC and not much more as you can see in this quick interview below.
Overall, a great night in Lincoln, RI for CES 71 with some awesome fights and two new CES World Champions. Going into 2023, fans can look for some long anticipated fights under the CES banner and taking into consideration some callouts and the results from this event, we can start to think about some exciting matchups that make sense down the road. Check out some words from CES's own Jimmy Burchfield Jr. recapping tonight in the interview video below.