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CES Returns with a Bang!

I was able to catch up with CES promoter Jimmy Burchfield Jr. to talk to him about how CES' return to action came together, and what we should expect from the regional juggernaut in the near future. A veteran of the New England MMA scene, Burchfield goes into detail about the promotions 1st event post covid and how the card got put together.

Who would have thought that there would be 7.5 months between regional MMA events in New England. When Travis, Steve, and I went to Premier FC 30 in Springfield on February 29th of this year, we didn't think that this was going to be the last in-person event that we'd see for some time. It was a great card put on by Karyn Wesch and her team at Premier FC, and it's a card that I soon won't forget due to the lack of events that we've seen since.

After being sidelined for almost 10 months of their own, CES makes a triumphant return to the New England regional stage with a stacked 8 fight card that is highlighted by the organizations biggest star, John Gotti III (5-0), headlining the event versus his toughest competition to date in Nick "JC" Alley (6-3).

CES is the only New England based promotion with a streaming deal with UFC FightPass, and that proved to be the crucial aspect in getting this show off the ground. "FightPass has played a critical role in us being able to do this. FightPass understands the regulatory and financial challenges that we face, and they have been extremely accommodating in helping us get this event off the ground", said Burchfield. With FightPass being such an important partner in this endeavor, CES had to accommodate the streaming services calendar and schedule their event for a Wednesday night, hoping to have less viewing competition and an opportunity to capture more eyeballs.

CES 61 will be the first event held in the northeast outside of Bellator since late February, and it will go down as a truly historic event for the region. It hasn't come without its hurdles though, as promotions have been forced to adapt to the environment to put on events, or choose to wait on the sidelines until fans can be allowed. The first hurdle that Burchfield needed to clear was making sure that the CES team was willing and ready to put on a show with the threat of the virus and with the additional protocols that would need to be met.

"It's been a challenging journey to get this fight card off the ground. We choose not to say something unless we can really do it. The team was eager and excited to get back to work. Then we had to check with the fighters to see if they were comfortable fighting in these conditions without fans, and knowing that we had budget issues without ticket sales, they needed to be willing to take a pay cut. For some fighters it made sense, for others it didn't."

With the commitment from the CES team and fighters, Burchfield then had a 2nd massive hurdle to overcome; the commission and the state of Rhode Island. A longstanding working relationship between CES and the athletic commission paid off, as the department of health approved the event based on the safety protocols that the promotion laid out for them. Fighters and corners will be tested when they arrive on Monday and will be quarantined until results are back on Tuesday. The cost of testing and additional hotel stays are another financial burden being placed on an already handicapped industry, but the upside of getting exposure during a ti