Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
It's Fight WEEK! We are extremely excited here at New England MMA to be covering the return of Joe Cavallaro this Friday night as he launches a re-branding of his former promotion (WCF) at Combat FC1, from the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Massachusetts. Cavallaro, along with his matchmakers; Rick Caldwell and Krystyne Curtis have put together an absolute banger of a fight card, including 13 fights, eight coming in the professional ranks, with a six fight main card airing live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 9 pm. Eastern time. The evening culminates with a high leverage affair between top New England Bantamweight prospect Rico DiScuillo (10-2, Sityodtong) and former Gladiator Challenge Flyweight Champion, California's Gareth De La Cruz (7-3, Coachella Valley BJJ/ Tru MMA) as they throwdown in the 140 pound Catchweight Main Event!
Somerville, Massachusetts' Rico DiScuillo (10-2) has long been regarded as one of the New England region's most promising up and comers, the 35 year old Mark Della Grotte understudy has fought just once in the last four years following the second loss of his career to Montel "Quik" Jackson (11-2, 5-2 UFC) on the 2018 season of the Contender Series. DiScuillo returned to New England in March at Combat Zone 75 when he brushed up his skills with a first round Rear Naked Choke Submission of "Conrflakes" Rob Fuller (2-15). The stakes will be much higher this time out when DiScuillo takes a big leap up in competition as he makes one more final push towards the UFC roster when he welcomes California's Gareth De La Cruz (7-3) to the New England fray for the very first time.
Tru MMA's Gareth De La Cruz (7-3) was an alternate on the 24th Season of the Ultimate Fighter in 2016 at Flyweight, since then Gareth is 1-2 in his last three fights and is currently looking to break a two fight losing streak. In ten career fights De La Cruz is the owner of five finishes across his seven pro wins, if the Californian can pick up his eighth professional win Friday night in the Combat FC1 Main Event and snap his losing streak against a seasoned veteran like DiScuillo, he too could find himself back in the good graces at UFC Headquarters. However, one look at De La Cruz's resume and it's fair to assume that DiScuillo is going to be the toughest test of his career. Add that to a wave of support coming from the hometown crowd at DiScuillo's back, and this Main Event has all the makings to becoming a "Fight of the Night" contender in Combat FC's UFC Fight Pass debut.
The Co-Main event features yet another New England MMA Contender Series alum as Burgess MMA's Tim "The Bear" Caron (10-5, Contender Series bout ruled No Contest) will be looking to pick up his first victory within the New England region since his first round Knockout (Slam) of Timmothy Woods at CES 48 in February of 2018. The New England Middleweight contender Caron finds himself marred in the midst of a current three fight losing streak as he welcomes Sacramento, California's Salaiman "Cutthroat" Ahmadyar (7-2, American Kickboxing Academy) to the New England scene. Former Dragon House MMA Lightweight Champion Ahmadyar projects best as a Welterweight moving forward, however Salaiman jumped at the prospect of fighting New England MMA veteran Tim Caron at Middleweight in "The Bear's" own back yard.
Salaiman Ahmadyar brings a harrowing story to the Combat FC cage as he explained below in a pre-fight interview; Salaiman absorbed a devastating knee to the face in his second professional fight, smashing his nose and requiring medical tests and examination. During the examination of Ahmadyar's injuries doctors discovered a rare cancerous tumor in Ahmadyar's jaw. Salaiman was forced to go from fighting in the cage to fighting for his life, as he and the doctors worked to battle against this potentially life threatening occurrence.
Next up at a Catchweight of 160 pounds Central Maine BJJ's Jesse "The Viking" Erickson (11-8) steps in on just two weeks notice to lock horns with gritty seven fight New England MMA pro; Jay Bakanowski (4-3). Few fighters in the region possess a resume like Erickson, who has logged 19 professional fights as well as six amateur fights over his past decade plus of work (all but two of those fights have come under the New England Fights banner). He most recently captured another first round finish (all 11 of his victories have come via 1st round stoppage, 9 Submissions, 2 Knockouts) over former student Matt Denning at NEF 47: The Battle of L/A and is currently riding a two fight winning streak. Erickson looks to keep the train rolling Friday night as he shows off his skills to another corner of New England when he comes into Bakanowski's back year looking to claim victory for the North!
Northborough, Massachusetts' and Gorilla MMA product Jay Bakanowski (4-3) has taken the tough road to get to where he is today; testing himself against the teeth of the New England Lightweight division on his road to a very respectable 4-3 pro record. Bakanowski's resume includes names like Nate "The Snake" Andrews, Leon Davis and a win over Lewis Corapi back in 2015 at CES 28. Win, Lose or Draw Friday night Bakanowski will be adding another New England MMA legend to that resume when the cage door locks on this tilt with the 20 fight professional Jesse Erickson. A win here and Bakanowski will make it back to back wins to begin his comeback from a nearly six year layoff from caged competition.
Jesse Erickson joined our Steve Domenico in The Room Podcast leading up to his short notice match up with Bakanowski where he calls this opportunity "Kinda Refreshing" in comparison to long arduous training camps he has endured in the past. Follow below for the complete interview.
We turn to the 170 pound division for our next professional bout of the evening when two promising New England MMA Welterweights match wits, both in search of their second professional victories. In one corner Western Massachusetts' Sage Philippe (1-2) who's first career victory came at Premier FC 31 last September when he knocked out Matt Denning in the first round. Philippe will look to get on a roll here as he shakes the thralls of a Unanimous Decision loss to Jonathan Di Lorenzo (2-0) at Premier FC 32 in November and welcomes Florian Martial Arts' Sanad Armouti (1-1) inside the Combat FC cage. Armouti will be looking to bounce back from a Unanimous Decision loss of his own; to Marcos Lloreda (11-7) at CES 59 in 2019. Armouti also carries with him one win by first round knockout as he stopped Rodolfo Rocha (1-3) with strikes at CES 57 in the Summer of 2019. This is an excellent match up on paper as both these guys have eerily similar records as well as some dangerous finishing abilities that could make this another "Fight of the Night" contender.
Another pair of 170 pounders enter the cage in the next bout of the evening when WCF (now Combat FC) mainstay Jamie "Tha Comanche" Campbell (3-0, Hard Knocks Muay Thai) returns to the competitive side of the combat sports arena for the first time since WCF 9 some 12 years ago. Campbell will welcome (4-4, 3 Knockouts as an Amateur) Jacob "The Tyga" Guerrero (Pro Debut, Tiger Shulmann's Martial Arts) both to the professional ranks, as well at the New England MMA scene. Both of these men possess high level striking, in a clash of "New School" vs. "Old School" which adds yet another level of intrigue to this stacked Main Card. Do Not let Campbell's 12 year hiatus fool you as he has been highly active in MMA gyms across the country over the last decade getting in rounds with the likes of UFC Lightweight Matt Brown and former UFC Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion; Henry Cejudo. Guerrero is no stranger to mixing it up with UFC talent as he is one of the main sparring partners for UFC Featherweight "Hurricane" Shane Burgos (14-3, 7-3 UFC). This one looks like it is going to be an all out fire fight under the bright lights at the Shriners Auditorium.
The Fight Pass portion of the Combat FC 1 card begins with what promises to be another high output striking affair as Sityodtong's Leonardo Laderia (1-3) sets his sights on back to back wins, following a first round Knockout of Jay Ellis at Cage Titans: Combat Night 3. Laderia welcomes BKFC alum Paul Teague (1-4, MMA) to the New England region Friday night as these two strikers open up the the UFC Fight Pass broadcast looking to leave a mark on MMA fans across the globe.
Friday night's undercard will be highlighted by two more professional bouts, first in the Lightweight division 2-0 Professional Boxer, Lauzon MMA's Mike Bulger (Pro MMA Debut, 2-0 Amateur MMA) enters the Professional MMA ranks against fellow undefeated amateur turned Pro Debuter; Cody McCracken (Pro Debut, 1-0 Amateur MMA, Streetbeefs Veteran). Also, Pat "The Gorilla Ninja" Casey (8-5, Grizzlies Wrestling) brings "The Jungle" east from Springfield, Massachusetts as he looks to bounce back off a loss to Armus Guyton at CES 67 in April when he welcomes seven time WCF (2-5) combatant Stephen Stengel (4-17) back to the promotion he once called home. Stengel has a tough task ahead of him in the 5th ranked professional Welterweight in New England Pat Casey. Casey looks to log his ninth professional victory and his sixth by finish when he meets the upset minded Stephen Stengel Friday night.
Five Amateur Fights round out the inaugural Combat FC fight card, including some very intriguing match ups highlighting some of the region's top up and coming acts. First at Middleweight we have a pair of Grappling big men as Carlson Gracie BJJ Purple Belt; Lee McHuge (4-1) meets 3x BJJ World Champion Black Belt (Alliance BJJ, Framingham, Massachusetts) Fabio Alano (Amateur Debut, Sityodtong) who will be making the walk to the MMA arena for the very first time at Combat FC 1 Friday night. The 4-1 McHugh appears to be a tough customer for any Debuting Amateur, however the Black Belted Alano is not your typical Debuting Amateur fighter.
Up next a pair of young Lightweights face off as KTA Nashua's (New Hampshire) Mike "Woodz" Jolicoeur (1-0, 1 Submission) looks for his second consecutive win to begin his Amateur career when he welcomes Spero Martial Arts' Jarrod St. Jean (Debut) to the Amateur MMA circuit. St. Jean has essentially grown up on the mats under the tutelage of Coach Dave Spero over the last decade and Spero has had nothing but high praise for the ability and work ethic of his young Lightweight prospect. St. Jean opens his career with a tough task against Walter Cotito-Smith and Joey Gomez protege Mike Jolicoeur who appears to have the talent to harness a successful career in his own right, as he guns for back to back wins to open his promising Amateur career.
Opening bell from the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Massachusetts is due to sound at 7 pm local time Friday night with the Combat FC 1 Main Card streaming live on UFC Fight Pass starting at 9 pm. Below is the entire Combat FC 1 fight card and potential fight order, follow along with New England MMA throughout the weekend for all the latest Combat FC coverage.
Amateur Undercard (7 pm Eastern)
Curt Benoit (0-1, FAF Gym) vs. Hal Zanone (0-0, Team Savage)
Dimitri Kabouris (0-0, Spero Martial Arts) vs. RJ Guardia (0-0, BMAC)
Carlos Pereira (1-2, Dragon Lair) vs. Bruce Pacy (0-1, Limitless Pride)
Jarrod St. Jean (0-0, Spero Martial Arts) vs. Mike Jolicoeur (1-0, KTA)
Fabio Alano (0-0, Sityodtong) vs. Lee McHugh (4-1, Team Savage)
Pat Casey (8-5, Grizzlies Wrestling) vs. Stephen Stengel (4-17, Team Stengel)
Mike Bulger (Pro Debut, Lauzon MMA) vs. Cody McCracken (1-0)
Fight Pass Main Card (9 pm Eastern)