Pro Bantamweight Rankings: The Joker has the Last Laugh


The pro 135 pound division is one of the deepest divisions in the region, and it is still ruled by Jay "The Joker" Perrin (10-4). Perrin retains the top spot after recently capturing the CES bantamweight world title after defeating Josh Smith back in September. The New England native now resides in Las Vegas and trains under John Wood at the world renowned Syndicate MMA gym.


Perrin is 7-1 in his last 8 fights, with his only loss coming on the Contender Series back in 2019, in which many people, including Dana White, believed that he had won that fight. Perrin is also the current Cage Titans bantamweight champion, although an interim championship is on the line on February 5th when #3 ranked Joe "The Party" Penafiel (8-3) takes on 7th ranked Lionel "Boogz" Young (10-17).


Perrin is scheduled to take on 5th ranked Ahiek Ajim (5-1) in a 5 round title bout at CES 66 that was just announced late last week. This will be a very tough test for Perrin, but "The Joker" is knocking on the door of the UFC, and a win over Ajim may be enough to kick that door open and get a call from uncle Dana.

Johnny "Cupcakes" Campbell (21-14) still sits at the #2 position, but he was scheduled to fight Johnny Lopez last Saturday on the Reality Fighting card at Mohegan Sun, but was forced to pull out prior to weigh-ins due to health concerns. Perrin and Campbell have been engaging in a war of words ever since Perrin beat Campbell by decision at Cage Titans 40 back in the summer of 2018, and a rematch seemed to be on the horizon, but it looks as though their careers are heading in different directions, so I wouldn't hold your breath for that rematch any time soon.


The aforementioned Penafiel stormed onto the New England MMA scene in 2020, notching 3 impressive wins at Cage Titans 48, 49, and 50, beating highly touted fighters in Pat Gilbride, Richie Santiago, and Bruno Dias. "The Party" has now positioned himself to battle it out against Lionel Young for Perrin's vacated belt. The brash and outspoken Floridian has cultivated an impressive fanbase here in New England in a short 6 month period, and may also find himself close to a big stage opportunity if he can dispatch Young in impressive fashion.

Speaking of Young, he also had a great 2020 campaign; going 2-0 under the Cage Titans banner with victories over high-level fighters Pat Gilbride and Andres Rodriguez. Young's record may only be 10-17, but he's elevated his game recently while training at Citadel MMA under coach Eric Grossman. The 37 year old "Boogz" has been competing within the region for almost 13 years, and he's ready to prove that he still has some miles left on those tires.


John "It's Not A" Douma (6-2) locked up the 4th spot in our pro 135 rankings, and continues to impress here within the region. Since fights commenced again post lockdown, Douma has rattled off a split decision win over Will Smith (3-4) at Bellator 256, and Tristan Lindi (2-2) most recently at CES 65. The Tri-Force MMA standout is paving a nice path to the big leagues, and with a few more quality victories under his belt, he may just find himself in a position to compete in the big leagues.


You can check out the full NEMMA rankings here.

 

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