Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
New England Fights opens their 2022 slate this Saturday night in the heart of Portland's Old Port as NEF makes their second straight appearance at the Aura Nightclub as Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo present NEF 46: Decade of Dominance. The Gold standard when it comes to promoting Mixed Martial Arts in the great state of Maine over the last 10 years, New England Fights is in a class all their own. NEF rolls into Aura with another stacked fight card, ready to blow the doors off the building with their tenth anniversary celebration! On the bill; a healthy diet of sixteen MMA fights taking place in both the amateur and professional ranks.
Highlighting the NEF 46 fight card a seven fight main card including five professional bouts and two amateur title fights. The vacant NEF Amateur Welterweight title is on the line when former NEF Amateur Lightweight Title Challenger "Magic" Mike Murray is scheduled to go five rounds with surging Recon MMA standout Zachary Faulkner for the NEF Belt. Then, newly crowned NEF Amateur Flyweight Champion Tyler Smythe out of Evolution Athletix puts his belt on the line for the first time when he meets former NEF Amateur Flyweight Champion Ryan Burgess in the final amateur bout of the evening.
The professional portion of NEF 46 kicks off in the Lightweight Division when the consensus top Lightweight Amateur in the region; Mo Al Kinani (9-1 amateur record) kicks off his professional career against Vermont veteran Lightweight Chris Rooney. Evolution's Al Kinani enters the pro ranks as one of the most exciting pro debuters our region has seen in some time, he puts professional 155 pound division on notice Saturday night when he takes the stage at Aura with a dominant performance in his sights and Rooney in his cross hairs. Next up we go to the Featherweight division where a pair of professional new comers; Defensive Edge's Anthony Vasta and Former NEF Amateur Featherweight Champion Nate Grimard (Nostos) get their first taste of three five minute rounds in the pro ranks.
Women take the cage for the first time at NEF 46 as Glory "The Fury" Watson makes her long awaited NEF professional MMA debut when she welcomes Michigan's Alibeth Milliron to New England for the first time. This should be a very interesting matchup between two talented Strawweight Women on the rise early in their careers. We get a bit of a shake up in the co-main event as Carl Langston (vs. Shaun Ray) and Zac "Rocky" Richard (Urias Osorio) were both set to fight different opponents Saturday night but due to some unforeseen circumstances heading into fight week that has changed. Richard and Langston will now meet for the second time as professionals in a rematch of their November 2021 bout at NEF 45.
Finally in the Main Event veteran of twelve fights inside the NEF cage (dating back to NEF 11 in 2013) Nostos MMA's Aaron "Relentless" Lacey returns for the first time since NEF 35 (2018) when he steps in on short notice for an injured Caleb Hall to throw down with 15 fight veteran; New York's Jerome Mickle. Doors at the Aura Nightclub open to fight fans at 6pm Saturday night with first bell due to sound at 7pm. As of Thursday evening there were only limited tickets available for the event which will likely sell out, for those of you who wish to watch the event from home a live stream is available to purchase for $29.99 through Combat Sports Now.
Check out the entire NEF 46: Decade of Dominance fight card below as well as a quick breakdown of the main card fights. New England MMA will be in attendance Saturday night with live results, interviews and bonus coverage of NEF 46.
Curtis Ouellette (1-3, CMBJJ) vs. Christopher Smith (0-0, Team Nitemare)
Amateur Catchweight (175 lbs.)
Justin Kangas (0-3, First Class MMA) vs. Jon Assam (2-3, CMBJJ)
Cody Kilton (1-1, First Class MMA) vs. Kaleb Kenney (0-1, Team Nitemare)
Ben Grady (2-0, Evolution Athletix) vs. Brandon Maillet-Fevens (3-2, CMBJJ)
Jeff Reynolds (2-2, Karasu Tengu) vs. David McCarty (1-0, Titan Athletics)
Ryan Savage (0-3, First Class MMA) vs. William Lagasse (0-0, Team Nitemare)
Nick Legrande (0-0, Young’s MMA) vs. Jack Burke (0-0, Seacoast Boxing Club)
Quinn Poirier (0-0, First Class MMA) vs. Key Baltazar (0-0, Nostos)
Mike Jolicoeur (0-0, Karasu Tengu) vs. Will Smith (0-0, Gorilla Fitness)
Mike Murray (3-2, DCBJJ) vs. Zach Faulkner (4-1, Recon)
Amateur Welterweight Title (Vacant)
Breakdown: Very interesting matchup here in our first of two Amateur Title fights as we have a clash in styles when former Lightweight contender "Magic" Mike Murray returns to NEF looking to shake off back to back losses inside their cage, before picking up a win outside the region last time out. The 23 year old Murray makes the jump up to 170 pounds here for another shot at NEF gold against fellow youngster and Recon MMA standout Zach Faulkner. Faulkner has been fun to watch as he typically sets a steady pace, constantly coming forward looking to use combinations to set up takedowns and controlling the fight with heavy top pressure. Murray tends to use his length to maintain distance on the feet although he will initiate clinch situations, on the ground Murray plays a slick Jiu Jitsu game and can threaten submissions from nearly any position on the mat. I've been very impressed with both of these guys in the cage and it's only fitting to lock them inside of it together with the NEF strap up for grabs!
(C) Tyler Smythe (3-1, Evolution Athletix) vs. Ryan Burgess (3-2, Famoso BJJ)
Amateur Flyweight Title
Breakdown: Evolution Athletix's Tyler Smythe brought a grinding back and forth war with formally unbeaten prospect Caleb Austin into the fourth round before finishing him with ground and pound to capture the NEF Amateur Flyweight Title at NEF 45. Smythe will defend his belt for the first time this Saturday night against former Champion Ryan Burgess who forecasted to our Steve Domenico that he is going to "Beat Tyler Everywhere" in his pursuit of regaining the Flyweight belt. That will be easier said than done against a grinder like Smythe who is rolling at the right time here against Burgess who ends a 4 year layoff tomorrow night. Burgess will have to be at the top of his game Saturday if he hopes to keep up with the grueling pace of Defending Champion Tyler Smythe.
Mohammad Al Kinani (Pro Debut, Evolution Athletix) vs. Chris Rooney (0-1, Sargent BJJ)
Breakdown: Excuse me for sounding like a broken record but at this point in his career it seems like anyone signing up to fight Evolution Athletix's Mo Al Kinani is being lead to slaughter. Al Kinani is an overwhelming striker unlike any we have seen amongst amateurs in our region for some time now. Al Kinani brutally dismantled Nuri Abrar last time out to capture the Cage Titans Amateur Lightweight Title at Cage Titans 50. Mo vacates his Cage Titans title Saturday night when he punches his pro ticket against Vermont's Chris Rooney. Rooney compiled eight knockouts across his twelve victories as an amateur before turning pro last September at DonnyBrooke's Battle in Barre 5 where he came out on the wrong side of a decision against Andrew Provost. Things won't get any easier for Rooney here at NEF 46 when he throws down with a hungry Mo Al Kinani!
Anthony Vasta (Debut, Defensive Edge) vs. Nathaniel Grimard (Debut, Nostos)
Breakdown: Decendents of two of the best Lightweights in New England MMA; Defensive Edge's Anthony Vasta (Connor Barry) and Nostos MMA's Nate Grimard (Devin Powell) will both forego their amateur careers when the cage door locks Saturday night on their professional Featherweight debuts. Now I've always considered Grimard somewhat of a lanky Featherweight, standing at 5'10" with a 70" inch reach but Vasta's measurables dwarf that of Grimard, coming in at 6'2" with a reach of 76". The Former NEF Amateur Featherweight Champion Grimard is going to need a strategy to get past that six inch reach advantage and bring the fight to Vasta. Anthony would be wise to use that reach as often as possible to keep Grimard on the outside and avoid allowing Grimard to clinch and take this fight to the mat. On the mat Vasta is no slouch, wielding a submission heavy arsenal from almost any position but Grimard should be the favorite if this fight goes to the ground. Nate deploys heavy top pressure on the mat constantly looking to improve position and rain down punches and break the will of his opponents. And Saturday night these guys get the green light to throw elbows into the whole mix, a technique that could add some intrigue to an already interesting matchup of fellow pro debuters.
Glory Watson (1-1, Young’s MMA) vs. Alibeth Milliron (2-0, Ludus MMA)
Breakdown: Young's MMA's Glory "The Fury" Watson has made one thing clear early in her professional career and that is that she wants to stay active. That can be tough in an extremely thin Women's MMA scene here in New England but Glory made it happen fighting 3 times professionally in 2021 and earning her first professional victory by first round submission in October at Flex Fights in New York. Glory makes her NEF professional MMA debut Saturday night as she fights in her home state of Maine for the first time since turning pro in 2020. The task however will not be an easy one, as Michigan's Alibeth Milliron enters the New England MMA landscape for the first time. Owner of six career knockouts spanning her amateur and pro careers, Milliron comes into this fight riding high, following back to back knockouts to open her pro career. This should be an extremely high level affair between these two women, as both girls are aggressive once the pin drops and a threat to end the fight in the blink of an eye. I have this fight circled on my fight card as a probable "Fight of the Night" candidate!
Zac Richard (1-0, Evolution Athletix) vs. Carl Langston (0-6, Independent) II
Breakdown: Let's be honest sometimes things can get a little silly when it comes to putting fights together in post-pandemic regional MMA and most of the time no one is at fault. We get a little taste of that here in the NEF 46 co-main event when Zac "Rocky" Richard and Carl Langston share the NEF cage once again as professionals. Richard successfully dispatched Langston by TKO in the first round of their bout at NEF 45 in November, in Zac's pro debut. However, with both men's original opponents unable to compete at NEF 46 these guys signed to fight one another yet again. Although it doesn't make perfect sense, it does make some sense, these guys pour a ton of work into fight camp and in today's uncertain world of MMA you gotta take the fights you can get. So signing for a rematch allows these guys to be able to perform, something they have been preparing for for weeks now as fight night draws near. With that said I see this one going a lot like the first fight, Zac closing the distance early getting the takedown and going to work from dominant positions on the ground. Carl will need to avoid the ground at all costs if he expects to walk away from the NEF cage with his first professional victory Saturday night against a heavily favored Zac Richard.
Jerome Mickle (4-11, Yonkyu Judo) vs. Aaron Lacey (6-2, Nostos)
Breakdown: Another shake up comes in the NEF 46 main event as Nostos' Aaron "Relentless" Lacey looks to make good on a short notice opportunity to replace Caleb Hall when he takes on New York's Jerome Mickle at 155 pounds. Lacey makes his way back to the NEF cage following a three and a half year layoff that included several cancelled fights and a change in camps. Formally training at Young's MMA Lacey moved to Somersworth, New Hampshire during his time away from the cage, living above his new home gym Nostos MMA and training under the tutelage of Devin Powell. Lacey looks to regain his notoriety as one of the regions more exciting prospects Saturday night when he makes his long awaited return against Mickle. From what I remember Mickle is a brawler, someone who comes forward with ill fated strikes from the opening bell looking to end fights early. Unfortunately for Mickle that mentality has it's fair share of consequences, resulting in 11 career losses as a pro. I see Lacey coming out here and controlling the pace, not allowing Mickle to come forward with wild shots and putting Jerome's back against the fence where Aaron's skills will take over. I believe Aaron will have a huge advantage not only in the clinch but on the ground as he looks to pick up the fifth submission of his professional career and his seventh pro win overall.