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NEF 44 Breakdown: Back in Black

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

Lewiston, Maine based promotion; New England Fights makes it's long awaited, post-pandemic return this weekend as it anchors down in the "Live Free or Die" State for the first time in the promotion's existence Saturday night when New England Fights 44 comes to us live from inside the Hampshire Dome in Milford, New Hampshire! And although illness caused for a few shake-ups on the card, Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo still have twenty bouts set for our viewing pleasure at NEF 44: Back in Black, including the return of some of the promotion's biggest stars. Included in that mix, the most noteworthy women's amateur in Maine MMA history; Young's MMA's Glory "The Fury" Watson (0-1) narrowly escaped having her NEF return go by the wayside when former opponent Rebecca Bryggman (0-1) pulled out due to illness on just 6 days notice. With that said NEF brass wasted little time in finding a healthy alternative in efforts to salvage the opportunity for their young star. Enter DW's Contender Series alum, Norfolk, Massachusetts' Hilarie Rose (5-3) who agreed to throw down with Glory in professional caged Kickboxing action. This will be the first taste of professional Kickboxing for both of these girls as they both are anxious for the opportunity to put on a show in New England Fights' return to action.

Two of Maine's highly touted professional prospects were set to hit the cage Saturday night highlighting the professional portion of the card, unfortunately for Young's MMA's Aaron "Relentless" Lacey (6-2), and his opponent "Super" Shane Manley (5-5) the sickness bug hit the Lacey camp, forcing the fight to be scrapped. As for the other prospect; Primo Bellarosa's Vision Quest Muay Thai sensation; Josh "Hook On" Harvey (7-1-1) the climb continues Saturday night as Harvey looks to bounce back off the first professional loss of his career, a first round Armbar loss to Jesse "The Viking" Erickson (10-8) at NEF 42: Symphony of Destruction, when he lines up with five fight pro Ian "Diablo" Beatease (1-4) at Featherweight. I'll be looking for an emphatic finish here from Harvey, even coming off a loss Josh is one of the most dangerous Featherweights in the region, and he has plans to remind New England fans just what that looks like, when the pin drops on his bout with Beatease Saturday night.

Another pair of local Featherweights will draw main card billing Saturday night when First Class MMA's Jacob Deppmeyer (1-0) looks to improve upon his first round TKO of Carl Langston (0-5) at NEF 42: Symphony of Destruction in his pro debut, as he takes on the vastly improving Fall River and Regiment Training Center product Aaron "Short Fuse" Hughes (1-0). Hughes showed a tremendous amount of heart and skill in his pro debut, weathering a tough first round against Tyler Edwards (0-3) at Valor 80 in April to follow up with a dominant second round which saw Hughes finish Edwards with strikes just 48 seconds into the second round. This fight is my early favorite for Professional Fight of the Night, both of these guys like to stand and bang and that's exactly what I anticipate happening when the bell rings on this Featherweight feature. I believe the majority of this fight plays out on the feet, whether at range of in the clinch I think both of these guys are willing to test their chins to implement their striking, that can be a recipe for an entertaining bout, for however long it might last.

Maine's most exciting Lightweight prospect; Caleb Hall (3-0) is now training in the Las Vegas desert with Syndicate MMA, and that is not good news for his opponent Shaun Ray, who makes his sanctioned MMA debut against and absolute killer in Hall. Hall is the owner of three first round submission chokes to open his career against veterans John Ortolani, CJ Ewer and Jay Ellis respectively. It's been a little over two years since Caleb last beat Jay Ellis by Rear Naked Choke at NEF 38: Stormborn, I believe Hall picks up right where he left off however, this kid is a beast, and he is going to unleash 28 months of pent up aggression on the Independently trained Shaun Ray Saturday night. Ray is going to need to summon every bit of inner fire and probably some natural survival instincts if he hopes to touch the unblemished record of a surging Caleb Hall in the NEF cage.

Two NEF Amateur Belts will be on the line Saturday night in Milford, NH; first, longtime reigning NEF Amateur Welterweight Champion and Evolution Athletix product; Duncan "The Highlander" Zachariah-Smith (6-3, 4 Submissions) will put his 170 pound belt and crafty submissions skills to the test at NEF 44 when he meets heavy handed striker; Team Burgess' Mike "All Class" Bezanson (5-0, 5 Knockouts). "Holy Schnikies" this is an interesting fight on so many levels; Smith's ground game against Bezanson's stand up, Duncan's fight IQ and durability against Mike's all out attack, I really admire the games of both these dudes. Duncan has the ability to drag this one into deep waters and test Bezanson, Smith is far and away the most seasoned and durable opponent that Bezanson will have had the opportunity to test himself against, and that's how it should be when a prominent regional title is on the line. This is high level Amateur MMA and easily one of the more interesting Amateur Welterweight bouts you could imagine inside the New England Region, I've got my eye on this one, no doubt!

The second shot at NEF Amateur gold Saturday night centers around the vacant NEF Featherweight Strap, left vacant by now 2-0 professional Featherweight and New England Cartel member Tom "The Phenom" Pagliarulo, pits two worthy combatants against one another, to crown the next NEF Featherweight Champion. In one corner Central Maine BJJ's Brandon Maillet-Fevens (3-1) has reeled off three straight stoppage victories inside the NEF cage, leaving Jesse Fitzsimmons, Cody Kilton and Tyler Knights in his wake on his way to a shot at the NEF belt. In the other corner; one of the more promising prospects currently on the roster at Devin Powell's Nostos MMA in Somersworth, NH, and that is saying a ton; Nate Grimard (3-0) followed his debut victory over Justin Kangas (0-3) with back to back wins for the Florida promotion WCFL, capturing the promotion's Amateur Featherweight strap last time out with a first round submission of Michael Larrimore (2-6) at WCFL 29 in June. Grimard's recent successes outside of the region should prove to be the deciding factor in this one, as I believe he returns the NEF Ammy Featherweight strap to Nostos MMA where it once belonged to Grimard's teammate Zac "Rocky" Richard (6-3-1). A healthy dose of poetic MMA justice could be served here if Grimard could return the title back to the Nostos MMA camp where it once held residence.

Other headlines worthy of note at NEF 44 include a shot at redemption for New Hampshire based James Ploss (1-2) who in essence finished "Dr. Feelgood" Caleb Austin (4-0) at NEF 28: Invincable in 2017 with a guillotine choke that caused the talented Wrestler Austin to tap, the only issue, the referee did not see Austin tap, and Caleb would go on to finish Ploss with strikes later in the first round. Now at 4-0 New England MMA fans have been clamoring for Austin to right the wrong that took place in their first bout and give James Ploss a well deserved rematch, that rematch finally comes four years later at NEF 44 Saturday night in Ploss' home state of New Hampshire as Austin is not only forced to solidify a win, but to do so in Ploss' back yard in Milford. There should be no love lost in this one, as I can imagine some genuine bad blood between these two based on the scrutiny faced following the decision in their first fight. Bad blood could be cause for a good war here as Ploss looks to take back what he could easily argue was already his!

Another interesting story graces the undercard as twin 21 year old brothers Evan and Isaac Piette have been training for 15 years just for this moment; Saturday night at NEF 44, when they both make the Amateur MMA debuts. Evan (vs. Lucas Donald) and Isaac (vs. Kaleb Kenney) will both make their amateur combat sports debuts in NEF's Lightweight division, looking to represent the Northern Granite Stater's in front their home-state crowd in Milford, New Hampshire. Opening bell is due to sound at 7 pm local time from the Hampshire Dome in Milford, NH as New England Fights presents NEF 44: Back in Black! Below is a look at the complete NEF 44 fightcard:


Josh Harvey (7-1-1, Vision Quest) vs Ian Beatease (1-4, KOV Gym)


Caleb Hall (3-0, Syndicate MMA) vs Shaun Ray (0-0, Independent)

Lightweight Jacob Deppmeyer (1-0, First Class MMA) vs Aaron Hughes (1-0, Regiment)

Featherweight Hilarie Rose (5-3, USMMA) vs Glory Watson (0-1, Young’s MMA)

Women's Strawweight Kickboxing


Duncan Smith (6-3, Evolution Athletix) vs Mike Bezanson (5-0, Kaze)

*Amateur Welterweight Title*

Nathaniel Grimard (Nostos) vs Branon Maillet-Fevens (CMBJJ)

*Vacant Amateur Featherweight Title* Curtis Ouellette (1-1, CMBJJ) vs Zach Faulkner (3-1, Recon)

Amateur Welterweight

Caleb Austin (4-0, CMBJJ) vs James Ploss (1-2, Kaze)

Amateur Flyweight Austin Hamilton (0-2, Independent) vs Jon Assam (1-3, CMBJJ)

Amateur Welterweight Ryan Savage (0-2, First Class MMA) vs Kyle Pufahl (2-0, Nostos)

Amateur Lightweight Lucas Donald (Debut, Independent) vs Evan Piette (Debut, Kaze)

Amateur Lightweight Kaleb Kenney (Debut, Team Nitemare) vs Isaac Piette (Debut, Kaze)

Amateur Lightweight Henry Jeffs (0-3, Independent) vs Brandon Oldenburg (Debut, Vision Quest)

Amateur Light-Heavyweight Cody Kilton (0-1, First Class MMA) vs Cam Hoyt (Debut, Kaze)

Amateur Featherweight Mike Caron (Debut, SSSF) vs Key Baltazar (Debut, Nostos)

Amateur Catchweight (140 lbs.) Teddy Politis (1-0, Evolution Athletix) vs Tyler Parent (Debut, CMBJJ)

Amateur Bantamweight Hannon Sanford (0-1, CMBJJ) vs Richard Martell (Debut, Young’s MMA)

Amateur Catchweight (130 lbs.) Tim Murray (0-1, Vision Quest) vs Guiliano Rossi (0-1, Kaze)

Amateur Flyweight Matt Miles (Debut, Independent) vs Juan Quinom (Debut, UFC Gym)

Amateur Men's Strawweight 130 KICKBOXING Dustin Veinott (5-4CMBJJ) vs Geraldo Reyes (Team Link)

130 lbs Amateur Kickboxing

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