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NEMMA Spring Rankings: Pro Bantamweight


New England's Professional Bantamweight division consists of some of the most entertaining fighters in the region. In 2022 and even early on here in 2023, the Bantamweight division has had some of the most entertaining fights. Just a couple months ago, #2 Bantamweight, Joe Penafiel (11-5) edged past the #6 Bantamweight, John Douma (7-4) in an absolute barnburner for the Cage Titans Bantamweight Championship at Cage Titans 58. This division continues to get better and better, containing some of the most anticipated matchups in New England.



The Massachusetts's native, Rico DiSciullo currently sits in the hot seat at #1. He was originally scheduled to take on the #5 Bantamweight, Charalampos Grigoriou (7-3) at Combat FC 3 back in February, before his call to The Ultimate Fighter: McGregor vs. Chandler came. Rico has been training and preparing for his shot to become "The Ultimate Fighter" on this very exciting and anticipated season. It will be very entertaining to watch the very first episode on May 30th. Because DiSciullo had to step away for his big opportunity, NY fighter, Chris Disonell stepped in to fight Grigoriou at Combat FC in the Bantamweight Main Event. Grigoriou finished Disonell and is now slated to take on Kris Moutinho (10-6), another one of New England's best Bantamweights whose coming off a win over Antonio Castillo Jr. at Combat Zone 79 in March by way of Bulldog choke.


As stated above, Joe Penafiel (11-5) holds down the #2 spot, coming off an impressive win over John Douma in what Full Contact Writer, Travis Lizotte, claims to be the best fight he's ever seen inside the region. Joe squeezed out the win by unanimous decision in that barn-burner of a fight. Penafiel took on Jorge Masvidal's GAMEBRED Promotion just four days ago in the first-ever sanctioned Bare Knuckle MMA event in Florida, where he fell on the short end of a unanimous decision fight with Irwin Rivera, the UFC & Eagle FC veteran. This may result in a change to the rankings, but before this fight, Penafiel had the #2 spot on lockdown.



In the #3 spot, Ashiek Ajim (6-3) stands his ground. Ashiek has proved to be a very dangerous opponent who always brings a super fast pace, finding his shots early and throwing them with lots of power. It will be fun to see Ajim fighting locally again and doing what he does best, brining fights.


Right behind him in #4 is Johnny "Cupcakes" Campbell (22-15) who is probably one of the most experienced fighters in New England. Cupcakes has been fighting professionally since 2010, and each time he steps in the cage he reassures everybody that he is going to keep on bringing it. Cupcakes took a fight on less than a weeks notice in March and brought one hell of a fight to the UFC veteran, Wilson Reis (26-12), before getting submitted in R3 by RNC. Although he might've fallen short in that fight, the fact that he fought on just a couple days notice was truly impressive and Campbell showed that he can hang with anyone, anytime.



In the 7 spot, the submission specialist in Harris Bonfiglio (5-1) gets ready to make his first appearance of 2023 as well. He was scheduled to fight Giorgi Kudukhashvili at CES 72 before he had to withdraw, unfortunately due to injury. Harris has proved himself to be one of the best on the mats, gathering all 6 of his professional wins by submission. I have always enjoyed watching Harris and his ground game, it's truly (for lack of a better term), like watching someone create artwork. His ground game is absolutely beautiful, and Harris does a great job of forcing his opponents into his game. New England should be very excited to watch everything unfold in 2023 for this young and hungry Bantamweight.


Jeff Joy (4-0) begins his flight into the rankings in the 8th-spot currently undefeated in the early stages of his career. He may be newer to the New England scene, but he's definitely got lots of momentum going, winning all four of his professional fights by rear naked choke. This goes to show how promising this young fighter is and what's yet to come.



#9 Bantamweight, Andrew Valdina (3-0), another New England submission specialist, has proved that his ground game is also very dangerous, winning two of his three with RNC's and the other by triangle choke. If you ask me it looks like there's many fights to make in this second half of the rankings. Three submission specialists in a row here. Valdina is the main training partner of Conor Matthews (6-1), the #1 NEMMA Ranked Pro Featherweight. "The Gladiator" Valdina is currently booked to fight CT's Will "Siracha" Smith (4-5) at Cage Titans 59 later this month.



At #10, Kam Arnold (2-1) comes off a loss to Valdina's upcoming opponent, Will "Siracha" Smith. Arnold is very fresh to the professional circuit but has proved to be very dangerous with both of his wins by KO. Arnold is not currently booked, but with cards being booked constantly all summer, Kam Arnold is bound to land on one! Stay on the lookout to see this fighter grow in his career.


Us here at NEMMA can't wait to see how the Bantamweight division shakes out in the rest of 2023! Stay tuned for more.




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