Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
There has been much speculation in the New England MMA community since the Encore Boston Harbor opened its doors in June of 2019; who was going to be the first of the regional promotions to bring MMA to Boston's new casino? Well all that speculation comes to an end Thursday night, on perhaps the most fitting night of the year to have live fisticuffs in Boston; St. Patrick's Day. Calvin Kattar's Combat Zone becomes the first promotion to gain access to Boston's finest Resort and Casino as all eyes will be on Combat Zone 75 Thursday night at Encore. The Combat Zone brass have put together an exciting night of fights including some of the regions fastest rising prospects taking the next steps towards the big leagues when the pin drops on Combat Zone 75.
One of those prospects, Tri-Force MMA's John Douma (6-2, #4 Ranked New England Bantamweight) spoke with our Steve Domenico on The Room Podcast last week to discuss his preparations for what he calls the biggest fight of his career Thursday night as he returns to Combat Zone for the first time since his amateur career when he meets 11 fight veteran Carlos Espinosa (6-5) at Bantamweight. Making his Combat Zone debut Tampa, Florida's Carlos Espinosa makes his third consecutive start on the New England scene looking to improve upon his 1-1 record inside the region Thursday night and the task doesn't get any easier against the 25 year old grappling wizard; John Douma.
Moving along but staying in the Bantamweight Division we turn to the Co-Main event which marks the return to regional competition for the 23 year old Flyweight super-prospect Mitch Raposo (5-1, #2 Ranked Flyweight in New England). Raposo who was cast on Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, before competing on the 2021 Contender Series, suffering a second round submission to Jake Hadley (8-0, Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion) returns to New England looking to get himself back in the win column and continue his push to the sport's pinnacle. Raposo looks to notch his first win since 2020 when he makes his Combat Zone debut against New England newcomer Jay Viola (3-2). Viola will be looking to bounce back off a Decision loss to now UFC rostered Fernie Garcia (10-1) at LFA 83 as he takes his shot at another top prospect in Mitch Raposo in Thursday night's Co-Main event.
In the Thursday evenings Main Event; Undefeated Lightweight Prospect Nick Fiore (3-0) locks horns with 12 fight pro Andre Borges (8-4) as Combat Zone puts it's vacant Lightweight strap on the line when these two Lightweights share the Combat Zone cage for a scheduled 25 minutes to decide its new 155 pound king. Brazil's Borges has finished seven of his eight career victories by knockout as he debuts stateside Thursday night against Submission Specialist Nick Fiore (3-0, Renzo Gracie NH). Fiore looks to make the most of his first opportunity to fight for a regional title in Thursday night's Main Event when he attempts to capture 155 pound Combat Zone strap and send his prospect status into orbit. However Borges is not going to be an easy out for Fiore who will need to be weary of Andre's knockout power on the feet as he looks to implement his grappling game in this five round clash of styles for the belt.
Also rumored to be on the card, although no matchup has been made available at the time of this article's writing, another Contender Series veteran; Rico DiSciullo (9-2) ends an almost four year layoff when he looks to shake off his third round knockout loss to Montel Jackson (11-2) in the aforementioned Contender Series appearance in June of 2018. New Hampshire's Tim "The Bear" Caron (10-4) made his Contender Series debut 2 weeks following DiSciullo when the New England Middleweight veteran had his third round TKO loss overturned to a no-contest against Jordan Williams (9-6) after Williams tested positive for a banned substance. Caron is back in New England and is looking to follow up a Decision loss at Premier FC 31, with a professional No-Gi Grappling match with friend and fellow New England Middleweight/ Light-Heavyweight OG; Mike Zichelle (8-4 MMA). Zichelle has turned to the Grappling realm since his Bellator run came to an end in 2016 as he relishes this opportunity to compete on this special St Patrick's Day event against fellow New Englander Caron, in front of the New England MMA fans!
Also on the card making his New England MMA debut but no stranger to the New England scene, brother of UFC Bantamweight and Peabody, Massachusetts native Charles "Boston Strong" Rosa (14-7); Lucas Rosa (2-0 Amateur Featherweight) puts his unblemished amateur record on the line against MMA newcomer Joe Whitehouse. Rosa will make the jump up to 155 pounds for what ends up being a late notice opponent change against fellow Massachusetts native and ammy debuting Joe Whitehouse. Thursday will also mark the return of former Welterweight prospect Kasheem "The Dream" Peterson (4-2-1) who has struggled to get back to the cage after legal issues put his promising career on hold nearly a decade ago, returns at Combat Zone 75 now 39 years old, Peterson returns to the cage against New England weekend warrior Jay "The Silent Assassin" Ellis (16-103). We have seen Ellis compete anywhere from Featherweight to Welterweight here in New England as he continues his mantra, albeit on a Thursday, at Combat Zone 75 when he meets Peterson at 170 pounds.
Rounding out the Combat Zone 75 fight card and in all likelihood kicking off the night from the Encore in Boston Harbor a pair of amateur bouts as Tristan Turano (1-0, Whaling City MMA) meets Joe Movessian (0-1, Zichelle Martial Arts) at Lightweight and Mike Titus (Ammy Debut, Defensive Edge) meets Geraldo Reyes (Ammy Debut, Team Link Hooksett) at Flyweight. Opening bell from the Picasso Ballroom at Encore Boston Harbor is due to sound at 7 pm local time, this Thursday March 17th, St. Patrick's day in Boston. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the link here and a pay per view stream will be available by visiting the Combat Zone website. New England MMA will be on site for all the action as it goes down from Combat Zone 75 stay tuned to New England MMA on all social media platforms.