Updated: Oct 14
The pro lightweight division in New England is top heavy, deep, and dominated by the boys from South Shore Sportfighting. Bill Mahoney and the boys on the South Shore have always produced killers, but this may be the deepest stable of 55'ers that they've ever had. SSSF owns 4 of the top 10 positions in the rankings, and own the top 2 slots.
Grappling ace, Joe "Skeletor" Giannetti (9-2-1), claims the #1 rank in a very deep division in New England, and it's well-deserved. Giannetti was knocking at Dana White's door when he dropped an uninspiring split decision to Mike Trizano at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, and spoiling his chances to be a rostered UFC fighter. Giannetti has been lobbying for another UFC shot since his return to the regional scene. He's gone 3-1-1 in the past year and a half since the loss to Trizano; losing a decision to D'Juan Owens (18-15-1), beating Connor Barry (#8 LW), Kennan Raymond, and Roberto Yong (3-6), while battling to a stalemate with Josh Harvey (#4 LW). "Skeletor" is still only 24 years old, but seems like he's been winning on the regional scene here in New England for a decade. Giannetti has some of best grappling chops in New England, and if he can evolve his striking game, he has the potential to be a successful fighter at the next level. He's close to getting that call from Dana again, but he needs to rack up another quality win or two, and he'll have no shortage of '55ers calling him out with that "#1" next to his name.
Giannetti's teammate, Manny Bermudez (15-2), grabs the 2nd slot in the NEMMA lightweight rankings. Manny isn't a true lightweight, as he's fought the majority of his career at bantamweight (135 lbs), but in recent years he's had a difficult time hitting the featherweight limit of 145 pounds, and actually missed weight at 155 pounds in his last fight out against #3 ranked Bruce Boyington (17-12). With the recent history of missed weight, we decided to include Manny at lightweight until he can prove to us that he can hit the featherweight limit again. Regardless of weight class, Manny Bermudez is one of the top fighters in New England. A grappling wizard with heavy hands, Bermudez's killer-instinct has carried him to a 15-2 record with 3 of those wins coming under the bright lights of the UFC (3-2 record). Rumor has it that Bermudez will be taking some time away from active competition, and that's probably a good decision. He's only 24 years old, so he has plenty of time to heal up, refocus, and evolve as a fighter who has the potential to be a ranked featherweight in the UFC.
A familiar name is slotted in the #3 position, as Bruce "Pretty Boy" Boyington is also our #2 ranked featherweight that we highlighted yesterday. The Mainer is a 29 fight veteran who's been considered one of the best lightweights in New England for many years. The former CES belt holder lost by first round submission to #2 ranked Bermudez at NEF 42, but he's looking to get back to his winning ways as soon as things pick back up. A matchup with #1 ranked featherweight, Matt Bessette, is the logical matchup to make, and we'll most likely have a good understanding if this matchup gets made after the CES podcast that they'll both be appearing on next week. Make sure to tune in to that. Boyington doesn't have too much time left to compete, so only the marquee matchups should appeal to him, and a Bessette fight would be just that.
Fellow Mainer and former teammate, Josh "Hook On" Harvey (7-1-1), grabs the #4 ranking, while also holding on to the #7 featherweight position. Harvey is a beast of a wrestler who's got heavy hands and the physical gifts to succeed at the next level, but he's coming off a wake-up call loss to #9 ranked Jesse Erickson (10-8) at NEF 42. It was the first loss of Harvey's pro career, and it may have been the difference in him getting a Contender Series call for this summer. If Harvey's striking evolves under the tuteledge of Muay Thai ace, Primo Bellarosa, then he'll be an incredibly dangerous fight for anyone on the regional scene. He needs to string a few wins together to hopefully get that call from the next level, but all the tools are in place for Harvey to have dominate over the next few years on the regional scene and get that opportunity at the next level.
The two other fighters in the rankings representing South Shore Sportfighting are Zach DiSabatino (6-2) at #6 and Brandon Fleming (7-4) at #7. A potential matchup for either of these guys sits right below them in the #8 slot, as Connor "Bare Knuckle" Barry (6-3) has mentioned a desire to dance with either of the two. Either matchup would be a great fight, so hopefully one of these gets setup.