It's been a tough couple of weeks for the New England MMA community, and another hit came yesterday when word started spreading that Jesse Peterson, former New England Fights middleweight champ, passed away. Peterson was 40 years old.
Peterson, a native of Rumford, Maine, was a stalwart on the New England MMA scene for more than 15 years, and took center stage for many of the top promotions in the region, with the pinnacle of his career coming on September 8th, 2012 when he captured the NEF middleweight belt by submitting Cody Lightfoot.
Jesse started his career in the region back in 2006, fighting for the likes of New England Fights, Reality Fighting, WCF, and Bellator MMA. He quickly became a prospect to keep an eye on in the region, and he amassed an 8-4 record before hanging up the gloves in 2014 after losing the NEF belt to Mike Zichelle.
Although Jesse wasn't fighting inside the cage in recent years, he was helping younger fighters prepare for upcoming bouts, and was always a presence at NEF events in Maine. You could always find him cageside with a smile on his face and an arm around a buddy.
Jesse was the brother of Matt Peterson, the co-owner of New England Fights, so this loss reverberates deep within our community. I was cageside when Jesse won his brother's promotional belt at NEF Fight Night 4. I was a judge cageside that night, and I remember glancing over at Matt (also sitting cageside) when they were putting the belt around Jesse's waist. What I saw was a grown man shedding tears in happiness because his brother had just strapped some gold around his waist. It was one of those rare moments in combat sports that you won't soon forget, and it still sticks with me almost 10 years later.
The New England MMA community mourns together tonight, and we prop up our brother when he's falling down. We got your back Matt.
I think I speak for the entire New England MMA community when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with Matt and his family during this difficult time.