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Combat FC 5: The Preview


Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"


This Friday night, September 15th, Joe Cav's Combat FC invades the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Massachusetts as he and matchmaker Rick Caldwell stay true to form by unveiling another incredibly stacked fightcard for our viewing pleasure. Combat FC continues to hoard top regional talent and the promotions fifth installment will be no exception, as Combat FC 5 features two massive New England MMA matchups atop its 12 fight slate. Four Amateur bouts, including a Combat FC Amateur Title tilt between KTA's Mike Jolicoeur (3-2) and Undefeated New Yorker; Jacob Cortigiano (4-0) give way to eight professional conflicts, headlined by a Combat FC Bantamweight title encounter that has New England abuzz.


Opening bell at Combat FC sounds at 7pm and we begin in the amateur ranks as Nostos MMA's Deven Richard (0-0) makes his highly anticipated amateur debut against fellow debuting Lightweight Chris Smith (0-0) out of New England Top Team. A pair of Middleweight newcomers hit the cage next as Brazil's Joao Gomez Jr. (0-0) squares off with Lauzon MMA's Jarrid Digangi (0-0) at a fight weight of 185 pounds. Up next Bantamweights Carlos Balestier (1-1, G&G Wrestling) and Sean Nichols (1-0, BTT Plaistow) meet in search of their second career victories.


Our fourth fight of the evening comes in the Amateur Featherweight ranks as New England MMA's #6 ranked Amateur Lightweight Mike Jolicoeur (3-2, KTA Nashua) moves down a weightclass in effort to capture his first amateur MMA title against Undefeated New York Featherweight Jacob Cortigiano (4-0) who's four career victories come via finish (3 Knockouts, 1 Submission). These two highly skilled amateurs will vie for the inaugural Combat FC Amateur Featherweight strap in what should be an exciting affair in the final Combat FC 5 Amateur bout of the night.


We move to the Professional ranks in the Middleweight division where perennial Combat FC combatant Stephen Stengel (6-23) makes his fifth start in the Combat FC promotion's fifth card as he meets 44 year old Damien "The Omen" Trites (7-6) who enters the cage for the first time since 2015. Both veterans of Joe Cav's former WCF, these guys will provide a bit of nostalgia Friday night stepping into the cage for Cavallaro once again to put on a show at 185 pounds.


The final fight on Friday's Combat FC 5 undercard comes at a Catchweight of 160 pounds and pits Arkansas' Tony Pike (0-3) against quite possibly the fastest rising prospect in all of New England MMA; Artur Minev (1-0, Defensive Edge). Since Ukraine's Minev burst on to the New England MMA scene after his relocation to Wakefield, Massachusetts he has been nothing shy of sensational, wielding skills far beyond his years. Still just two weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Minev has wasted no time proving that he is one of the most dangerous 155ers in the region, coming into this contest in search of his fourth straight victory inside New England cages. Minev looks for his fifth victory overall Friday night in what could prove to be the toughest test of Tony Pike's already embattled professional career.


22 year old Nostos MMA product Kyle "Silent" Hill makes his Pro Debut after his initial attempt in July fizzled, he makes the walk to the Combat FC cage for the first time in his career Friday night when he meets Felipe Soares de Silva (1-0). Soares de Silva made his professional debut four months ago with an emphatic first round TKO of Oscar Vera (0-5) he looks to send Hill back to New Hampshire Friday night with the first defeat of his career. That's not going to be an easy ask for Boston's Soares de Silva who lines up with Hill on the heels of four consecutive wins highlighted by three finishes to round our his amateur career. This Welterweight showdown should prove to be a great test for both of these young fighters and a good glimpse of what is ahead for each of them.



Then; undefeated Bourne, Massachusetts Bantamweight Jeff Joy (4-0, Daniel Gracie Plymouth, #9 Bantamweight in New England) makes his Combat FC debut looking to remain unblemished as he meets nine fight professional veteran Shawn Johnson (4-5). In four trips to the cage professionally Jeff Joy is a perfect 4-0 with four victories by his patented Rear Naked Choke. Johnson shocked the New England MMA community earlier this year when "The Brutal Noodle" notched a second round TKO of Travis Demko, an upset here over Jeff Joy and Johnson could spoil the run of yet another Undefeated Bantamweight prospect. A win for Joy puts his record at an impressive 5-0 and makes a serious argument for the 32 year old to gain national attention.



Combat FC will serve us yet another slice of nostalgia in a Welterweight feature between two MMA stalwarts as former Olympian Judo Player and Bellator MMA veteran, 46 year old Rick "Ghangis" Hawn (21-5) meets seven fight UFC veteran (4-3); 43 year old Drew "The Master" Fickett (43-22). Fickett returned after a nine year layoff to fight twice so far in 2023, Drew is one up and one down since his return and is looking to end 2023 on a positive note with a good showing here against the favorite Rick Hawn. Hawn returned to the MMA realm last year, following a 7 year hiatus of his own at Combat FC 2, suffering a second round submission loss at the hands of another UFC veteran JZ Cavalcante. Hawn looks to finally get his hand raised after an eight year absence from the MMA winners circle Friday night as he squares off with Fickett.



Perhaps no one on the Combat FC roster has opened more eyes since the promotion's inception than Haverhill's Yann Oliveira (4-0) who returned after eight and a half years away from the cage at Combat FC 4 in a mollywhopping of Stephen Stengel. Oliveira looked exceptional against the veteran Stengel, improving to 4-0 and becoming somewhat of an x-factor in the New England region. Oliveira hinted via social media that a drop in weight could be coming, as he drops from Middleweight to Welterweight and locks horns with Brazilian slugger Derik de Freitas (2-6). De Frietas made his New England MMA debut at Combat FC 4 in a first round TKO loss to New England's #2 ranked Welterweight Bekzod Abdurakhmonov. Derik has his hands full once again Friday night against an absolute beast in Yann Oliveira who looks to string together his fifth finish to begin his professional career.


We end up at a Catchweight of 140 pounds in the Combat FC 5 co-main event as two of the New England region's biggest stars square off in a New England MMA matchup for the ages. 37 fight New England MMA veteran and New England's #4 ranked Bantamweight Johnny "Cupcakes" Campbell (22-15, South Shore Sportfighting) has been the control at which to measure the region's best Featherweights and Bantamweights over the last decade plus. After 13 years as a professional "Cupcakes" has experienced his share of ups and downs making him a dangerous opponent for fighters at any level.



Friday night Campbell looks to add to his resume as he is locked into the Combat FC cage with Bantamweight prospect, UFC veteran and #4 ranked New England MMA Featherweight Randy "The Zohan" Costa (7-4, Lauzon MMA). Costa returned to the region, following a three fight skid to end his UFC tenure, in June at Combat FC 4 with a one sided drubbing of Florida's Carlos Espinosa via TKO. Costa was initially scheduled to throw down with Gareth De la Cruz at Combat FC 5 but De la Cruz's withdrawal set up what could possibly be one of the most highly anticipated bouts in New England MMA's recent memory. New England MMA fans will be watching this one closely, likely with their hearts in their throats as two of the region's favorite fighters battle it out at 140 pounds.


We finally arrive at the Combat FC 5 Main Event where we will once again crown a Combat FC Bantamweight Champion, following former Champion Charalampos Grigoriou (8-3) signing with the UFC via the Contender Series last month. This time the Bantamweight strap will undoubtedly reside in New England when all is said and done, the only thing left to solve is weather the belt remains on the Northshore with Haverhill's Jake "The Gorilla" Pilla (4-0, Gorilla Crew, #9 ranked Featherweight in New England) or ends up in the Southern portion of the region with Tri-Force MMA's John Douma (7-4, #6 Bantamweight in New England) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.



This is yet another matchup designed to tug at the heartstrings of the New England MMA fans. Both Pilla and Douma have been must see TV along their medeoric rise to the top of the heap in New England's Bantamweight division. Tri-Force MMA's Douma has made his name by not backing down from any challenge throw at him. His resume speaks for itself as the 27 year old Douma has tested himself against some of the best 135ers on the East Coast and perdominantly passed with flying colors. Coming up short in his last two bouts via decision, capturing the CFC Bantamweight strap from the hands of the undefeated Jake Pilla Friday night could put Douma's career right back into overdrive. Although Pilla's career resume doesn't yield the dangerous cast of characters like that of Douma, Pilla has never faced the thralls of defeat as a professional, setting his first four opponents down in order by way of finish. It goes without saying that the eyes of the New England MMA World, and beyond, will be on this bout, scheduled for five, five minute rounds for all the marbles in the Combat FC Bantamweight Championship main event.


Those unable to attend Combat FC 5 at the Shriners Auditirium in Wilmington, Massachusetts can turn into the live broadcast of the event at the home of Combat FC 5 on FITE at fite.tv or follow along with New England MMA the entire weekend for our coverage of Combat FC 5.


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