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NEF 48: Heatwave The Forecast

Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"

For the first time in recent New England MMA memory and the first time since NEF 8 in 2013, New England Fight sets it's sights outdoors; on the picturesque Thompson's Point a waterfront venue in Portland, Maine. Saturday night from the banks of Fore River Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo present NEF 48: Heatwave unveiling 16 Mixed Martial Arts contests including 12 Amateur bouts, one Amateur title bout and four Professional fights; all headlined by a Lightweight bout between two promising undefeated professionals as Nathaniel Grimard (2-0, Nostos MMA) takes on Jake "The Hitman" Hixenbaugh (1-0, Bohn MMA). The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the high 80's in Portland Saturday night and with just the NEF Hexagon separating the fighters from the great Maine outdoors; NEF 48: Heatwave will no doubt live up to its billing, both inside the cage and out.

NEF: Nostos vs. Everyone Fights: Former NEF Lightweight Champion and Superstar, turned UFC/Bellator veteran, turned Head Coach/ Gym Owner extraordinaire; Devin Powell (10-5, Nostos MMA) has roots that run deep through the NEF promotion. From finishing his friend Jesse "The Viking" Erickson at NEF 22 to capture the NEF Lightweight Title to an amazing comeback Submission of Jon Lemke at NEF: Dana White Looking for a Fight that earned Powell a multi-fight deal with the UFC. There is no doubt Powell has experienced some amazing moments under the NEF banner and Saturday night just might mark the most proudest moment of his promotional career. Powell, and his crew from Nostos MMA, will lead seven different fighters into battle Saturday night as a quick look at the NEF 48 line up appears to be Nostos vs. Everyone.

Out of the chute first for the Nostos MMA crew; "Skeleton" Key Baltazar (1-0) a very exciting prospect at just 25 years of age, Baltazar will make his second NEF start in the promotion's last three events when he opens the NEF 48 fightcard against Central Maine BJJ's Hannon Sanford (0-2). This will mark Sanford's third walk to the NEF cage having suffered losses to both Felipe Gunter at NEF 42 by Decision and Richard Martel at NEF 44 by Knockout, the task doesn't get any easier here for Sanford when he squares off with Baltazar. Key took his seat in "The Room Podcast" ahead of his bout where he expressed excitement about making a statement at NEF 48 and his desire to open up the fight card, which he will do when the opening bell sounds Saturday night at Thompson's Point.

Next from the Somersworth, New Hampshire stable 26 year old Bantamweight Alex Morris makes his amateur debut against a familiar foe to the Nostos MMA camp, former Key Baltazar opponent; Quinn Poirier (0-1, First Class MMA). And a new face in the Featherweight ranks as John Marcley makes his long awaited Amateur debut against Central Maine BJJ's Jonas Ryerson (0-1). Marcley had initially been preparing to make his debut all the way back at NEF 40 in Orono before his bout with Clifford Redman fizzled, Marcley finally gets his chance to make the walk Saturday night and fly the Nostos flag. Marcley's opponent Ryerson is also familiar in the Nostos household as his loss came at the hands of standout teammate; RJ Janeczek (2-0) at NEF 45.

Nostos Middleweight David Burke (1-0 #9 Amateur Middleweight in New England) made a splash in his Amateur debut at NEF 47, knocking out David McCarty with punches just 19 seconds into their showdown in May. Burke will attempt to steal the show once again at NEF 48 Saturday night when he welcomes First Class MMA's Ryan Fredette to the Hexagon for the very first time. Don't be caught away from your seat when these two step into the cage, once that bell rings these two Middleweights are coming for blood and not interested in wasting time doing so.

The final Nostos MMA Amateur to compete Saturday night, will do so for the Vacant NEF Amateur Welterweight Title as Kyle "Silent" Hill (2-0, #6 Amateur Welterweight in New England) makes his NEF debut when he meets six fight NEF Veteran; Central Maine BJJ's Curtis Ouellette (3-3, #9 Amateur Welterweight in New England) with the hardware on the line. For Nostos' Kyle Hill this will be first time he has competed "north of the boarder" from his home in New Hampshire as he gets his first shot at regional gold when he meets the brawling Curtis Ouellette. If nothing else Ouelette has earned this shot at the title, Curtis is never in a boring fight and is always looking to separate his opponent from consciousness. In Ouellette's three victories all have come by Knockout and if he can notch KO number 4 Saturday night against the Undefeated Kyle Hill he will claim his spot atop the heap of NEF Amateur Welterweights. This one should be a Banger!

We make our way to the professional ranks where our final two Nostos products prepare to take the stage, and it's a stage that was once very routine for Heavyweight Cody Lightfoot (6-5). It's been nine years since 38 year old Cody Lightfoot stepped foot inside a New England MMA cage, once one of the regions most sought after Heavyweight prospects Lightfoot put his MMA career on hold following four straight losses, to concentrate on raising his sons and his career in law enforcement. Cody will enter the NEF cage for just the second time Saturday night and he will do so against a six time veteran of it in former NEF Cruiserweight title Challenger; Ras "Rasquatch The Jamacian Shamrock" Hylton (7-6, #5 Heavyweight in New England).

Veteran of both the NEF and Bellator cages Ras Hylton has been a gauge by which to measure all New England MMA Heavyweights by, Ras put on his most impressive performance to date last time out when he finished Jan Jorganson (8-1) with strikes in the second round of their contest at Fierce FC 19 in Utah. Ras returns to the NEF cage where he is 4-2 as he invites the return of Cody Lightfoot as these two Heavyweights look to add to their already impressive KO/win ratios. Lightfoot is the owner of 4 Knockouts across his 6 career wins, Hylton holds an impressive 6 Knockouts in his 7 career victories. Two Heavyweights with finishing mentalities...I don't believe we are going to need the judges to decide this one!

Finally Nostos MMA completes the NEF 48 fightcard with the second half of the bookend, the Main Event; which features former NEF Amateur Featherweight Champion Nathaniel Grimard (2-0, #9 Ranked Featherweight in New England) who gets his first taste of a Main Event slot as a professional when he meets New York's Jake "The Hitman" Hixenbaugh (1-0) at Lightweight in the evenings feature bout. Grimard's third straight start under the NEF banner earns him the headlining bid here as he looks to improve his unblemished professional record to 3-0 when he locks horns with "The Hitman" Hixenbaugh. Hixenbaugh turned the page on his eight fight Amateur career in June when he submitted Bruce Richards in the first round at CES 69 in his professional debut.

Hixenbaugh is a scrappy kid looking to shake up the scene here in New England and in front of him, the toughest test of his young career in the athletic and technical Nathaniel Grimard. This matchup will be a very good litmus test for these two young fighters as both look to leave their mark on the New England MMA Lightweight division and the outcome of this one could really change the trajectory of their careers. I like this fight, sneaky good matchup to cap off the NEF 48 fight card and potentially a great way to end the evening for the Nostos MMA contingent in attendance at Thompson's Point and their seven teammates highlighting the bill.

"The Summer '22 Matt Denning New England MMA Tour" continues Saturday night, as it has become known here in house at New England MMA. Matt "Ken Doll" Denning (6-14) will lace up his gloves for the fourth time on his "Summer Tour" at NEF 48 when he welcomes the pro debut of 43 year old Bostonian Brian Cosco. Denning who fought each of the first three weeks in June, including a first round technical submission of Jacob Guerrero at Combat FC1 his last time out. And we all remember Denning's fight with Jesse Erickson at NEF 47 in May, for those keeping score at home that's five professional scraps in two and a half months for the 14 fight NEF veteran. Denning looks to hand out another unhealthy welcome to the professional ranks as Cosco leave behind a 16 fight Amateur career for his chance to dance with Mr. Denning this summer inside a cage near you!

The Academy's Mark "Pockets" Gardner (2-3, #9 Middleweight in New England) is looking to bounce back off the first loss of his NEF career Saturday night when he welcomes South Short Sportfighting's Justin Burrill (3-3) to the NEF Hexagon for the very first time. Gardner wound up on the business end of a first round headkick doled out by "The" Ryan Sanders (19-9) at NEF 47, but the fact is it takes a different kind of fighter to stand with Sanders and a certain amount of preparation goes into a fight of that magnitude that you can't help but become better for it. Gardner looks to show New England that he is still very much in the mix in the New England Welterweight division as he squares off with a tough customer in Rockland, Massachusetts' Justin Burrill. This is a fight to keep an eye on as these two share a combined 11 professional bouts and just one decision, look for heads to roll.

Below is a look at the complete NEF 48 fightcard, littered with NEF mainstays; Zachary Faulkner (4-2) makes his Lightweight debut against Ohio's Bobby "Wolverine" Kelley (2-3). Young's MMA's BJ Garceau (2-1) meets PEI's Maria Clinton (2-0) in Women's Amateur Strawweight action. And Clifford Redman (0-12) returns in search of that elusive first career victory when he catches Acadia BJJ's Nate Dorr (1-0) at a Catchweight of 140 pounds. Former Fitzpatrick Trophy Winner (Maine's Top High School Football Player) at Lewiston High School; Jared Turcotte (CMBJJ) makes his highly anticipated MMA debut Saturday night when he draws Titan Athletics Light-Heavyweight Seth Godfrey (1-0) in Amateur action. For Tickets Click Here, doors open at 6 pm, opening bell sounds at 7 pm.

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