Updated: Oct 14
Once you get above the welterweight division the weight classes get a bit thinner, but that's to be expected to some degree. The 185'ers are ruled by Bellator and Contender Series vet Tim "The Bear" Caron (10-2). Caron has had 5 fights with his home state promotion, Combat Zone, and has also appeared under the Bellator banner a handful of times as well. The Burgess MMA fighter is a well-rounded beast, and most recently picked up a big win over Lucas Pimenta (8-3) at Bellator 231 back in October. "The Beast" is 32 years old and is positioned well to make an impact with Bellator so long as they keep calling him. He most likely won't get a call from the UFC after missing his opportunity on the Contender Series 2 years ago. He'll most likely get another call from Scott Coker and Bellator when the promotion makes one of its frequent stops at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and if he picks up another W, then there is a good chance he gets signed to a multi-fight deal with the promotion and becomes one of it's rostered middleweight fighters. Keep an eye on "The Bear", and make sure you check out his recently opened personal fitness gym T.I.M.S. in New Hampshire.
#2 ranked Justin "The Fort" Sumter (7-3) started his professional career by losing to #1 ranked Tim Caron, but rattled of 6 wins in a row with local promotions Cage Titans, Premier FC, and CES. Sumter has gone 1-2 in the last 2 years, but he's fought some killers! Those two losses have come at the hands of current UFC fighters Ian Heinisch (14-3) and Maki Pitolo (13-5) on the Contender Series, and he mixed in a big submission win over #3 ranked Reginaldo Felix (6-3) at Bellator 216. The Fighting Arts Academy and Nick Newell pupil has the talent to fight consistently at the next level, but he hasn't been able to capitalize on the recent big opportunities that he's had in front of him. It's likely that Sumter will fight for Bellator when the promotion comes back to the region, but for now, he needs to rack up some quality wins in New England, and try and capture a belt or two in order to get the spotlight back on him.
The aforementioned Team Link product, Reginaldo Felix, grabs the #3 slot in our middleweight rankings, but he shares this position with undefeated Yu Ji. Felix will be 35 in a few weeks, so father time is working against him, but he got a late start to the sport, and didn't notch his first professional fight until 30 years of age. The relocated Brazilian has quality wins over #8 ranked Pat McCrohan (4-3), and a very tough Mark Gardner (1-1). As mentioned previously, he has dropped a fight to #2 Justin Sumter, but he's looking to continue the momentum that he's built over the past few years in order to get a shot at the next level before it's too late. Felix needs to be as active as possible when fights resume on the regional level, so keep an eye out for this Massachusetts based fighter in the coming months and years.
#3 ranked Yu Ji (3-0) captured the Premier FC middleweight title after TKO'ing #5 ranked Pat Casey (6-2) in under a minute at Premier FC 30 back in March. The Manhattan based fighter trains with #3 ranked amateur featherweight Yorrick Anderson (3-0) at Radical MMA in New York City, and made a huge statement to the region after dismantling an uber tough Casey. Yu Ji is still very much a mystery when it comes to his talents and potential in the region, so we'll need to watch him closely, but he's surely made an impact on the promoters, fans, and media by getting slotted in our 3rd position. Look for Yu Ji to defend his middleweight belt with Karyn Wesch under the Premier FC banner soon.
Two absolute killers grab our 5th and 6th spots in the pro middleweight rankings, as Massachusetts based fighters, Pat "The Gorilla Ninja" Casey (6-2), and Sean "The Unpredictable One" Lally (8-5) respectively own those titles. As mentioned previously, Casey is coming off a stunning loss to #3 ranked Yu Ji, but he's true weight class may be at welterweight, so we'll have to see where he goes from here. He'll most likely be fighting at home in Springfield on Premier card in the near future (possibly their next card in October).
Sean Lally has publicly said he's going to take a year off from competition, so don't expect him back in the cage any time before spring of 2021. Lally hasn't found the winners circle in 2.5 years, but in those 3 losses he's fought some top level competition in Pacific Northwest stud Chris Curtis (22-8), #3 ranked welterweight Camron Lochinov (9-2), and veteran middleweight Shedrick Goodridge (7-12). The always entertaining Lally still has a chance to crack the regional ceiling, but the Sityodtong product needs a little time away to recharge the batteries. I'm sure he'll come back with a fury though!
Jesse McElligott (7-3), Pat McCrohan (4-3), and Jon Manley (13-6) round out 7, 8, and 9, while relative newcomer, Tommy Lee Davis surprisingly sneaks into the 10th slot with his 2-1 record. Davis is one to keep an eye on, as he oozes with talent, and has the ability to make some waves in the region at 185.