Updated: Oct 14, 2020
The pro featherweight division is reigned over by by former UFC fighter and Underdog MMA veteran, Matt "The Mangler" Bessette (24-9). The Connecticut based fighter, and CES belt holder, has been fighting professionally for almost 13 years and had a two fight stint with the biggest promotion in the world, but dropped both by decision. Finding himself on the outside looking in, Bessette regrouped and came back home to get his career back on track. "The Mangler" beat Tim Dooling by decision at CES 55, and KO'ed Charles Cheeks III back in January at CES 60. A gritty, well-rounded fighter, Bessette's looking for the toughest opponents to step inside the CES cage to try and take his 145 pound belt. There's recently been some talk on social media between Bessette and #2 ranked Bruce Boyington about a possible clash, but whether or not they can come terms is yet to be determined. Bessette wants Boyington to get a quality win before giving him a chance at the strap, as "Pretty Boy" Boyington is coming off a first round submission loss to #2 ranked LW, Manny Bermudez (15-2). You have to put an asterisk next to that fight though, because Manny came in 4 pounds heavy of the 156 pound weight limit. Regardless of whether the fight between #1 and #2 gets setup, Bessette still has a tight grasp on the #1 slot at featherweight here in New England.
Another stallwart of the New England MMA scene, Boyington is no one to look past. He's fought professionally 29 times, amassing a 17-12 record with wins over notable fighters such as; Sean Soriano, Dan Dubuque, Devin Powell, and Saul Almeida. He's also dropped fights to studs Nate Andrews, Manny Bermudez, and Andre Harrison. Boyington has never been one to back down from a fight, and the potential matchup with Bessette is no different. The Titan Athletics product has been quoted as saying that he'll give Bessette his fight purse and will come down to CES (Bessette's home turf) to determine who the true #1 featherweight in New England is. Jimmy Burchfield is trying to work his magic and iron this one out for the fans, but the camps may be too far apart unless Bessette concedes his request for Bruce to get another quality win before signing the contract. The 41 year old Maine based fighter doesn't have much more time to claim the #1 spot in our rankings, and locking up a win against the talented Bessette would give him that opportunity.
The community may be buzzing around the potential matchup between #1 and #2 featherweights, but don't sleep on "Shameless" Don Shainis (8-2) who is coming in at our number 3 spot. The Citadel MMA fighter's only has two losses on his record. One of them was a doctor stoppage due to a cut, while the 2nd loss occurred while battling through a broken neck in his fight with Daniel Matos. Since returning from that injury, Shainis has rattled off 4 consecutive wins within a 9 month period under the Cage Titans banner. Shainis is an uber exciting finisher who's only had one of his 8 wins see the judges scorecards. The popular vocal fighter is waiting for a call from Dana White and the boys, and he easily could get that with 1 or 2 more quality wins on the regional scene. If you haven't seen "Shameless" fight locally, do yourselves a favor and buy a ticket for his next fight, because Shainis won't be fighting regionally much longer with the trajectory that he's on.
UFC vet, Sean Soriano, grabs the 4th slot, while Dinis Paiva (13-7) comes in at #5 and makes his 2nd appearance within our rankings (also #3 BW). 6th ranked Vovka "KGB" Clay (9-2) has been a surging prospect in the region for years, but we haven't seen him in the cage since November of 2018, so we're not sure in which direction his career is heading. Josh "Hook On" Harvey (7-1-1) comes in a little lower in the rankings than initially expected after losing by submission to #9 ranked lightweight, Jesse "The Viking" Erickson" (10-8) at NEF 42 back in February.
New Hampshire's Dylan Lockard (6-2) claims the 8th spot on the list after dropping a fight to TJ Brown by arm triangle on the Contender Series last summer. He's looking to bounce back on the regional circuit once events start to happen again.
2 young up an comers round out the top 10, as 23 year old New Hampshire native, Brendon "The Kid" Marotte (6-1), looks to keep the momentum as a close decision victory over the always tough Dan Dubuque. The 2nd young buck isn't so young in age, but is in terms of experience. Lauzon MMA fighter, Connor "The Controller" Matthews (2-0), has only spent :64 seconds in front of the Cage Titans crowd in two professional contest, TKO'ing Stacey Anderson in :07 seconds, and submitting Rob Fuller in :57 seconds. It's somewhat of a surprise to see Matthews sneaking into the top 10, but this speaks volumes of what people expect of him based on the tools he's shown, and the camp that's got his back.
The 145 pound division is dominated by two veterans of the sport with a combined 63 professional fights, but Don Shainis has something to say about that, as he's lobbying for the toughest fights possible, and he'd gladly meet Bessette or Boyington in the age to prove that he's the best featherweight in New England. There's certainly 3 guys at the top of the division who can chirp, and are willing to take on the toughest in the region. Let's see what the magic 8 ball has in store for us when it comes to combination of matchups between Bessette, Boyington, and Shainis!