Updated: 5 days ago
The professional 170 pound division may be the deepest weight class in New England. Vinicius "The Brazilian Bad Boy" de Jesus (9-2) currently reigns supreme in New England, and for good reason. The only two blemishes on de Jesus's record came by way of split decision, and he could have easily found himself at 11-0 with a slight swing of the judges' opinions. He's got quality wins over #1 ranked middleweight Tim Caron (10-2) at 185 pounds, #6 ranked Jeremiah Wells (8-2), and defended his CES welterweight belt with a TKO win over Chris Lozano (10-4) last September. De Jesus may have the best chance in the region at getting a call from the big show, and with the tools that he's displayed on the New England regional scene, there's a good chance that Vinicius makes a big splash under the bright lights. Don't be surprised if you find de Jesus fighting in front of Dana White this summer on the Contenders Series.
A familiar face to the New England scenes is slotted in the 2 hole, as Massachusetts' Jon Manley (13-6) continues to make waves after a 13 year professional fighting career. He may have some wear on those tires, but Manley is still only 33 years old, and has some time to make a statement at the next level. Manley had success on the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter, but lost his only UFC appearance to a super talented Neil Magny, but that decision loss has aged very well for Manley. The Ludlow, Mass native fought 3 times the 2nd half of 2019, picking up 2 victories in Bellator, and dropping a decision to the very tough Manny Walo (14-4-1). #2 seems like the right place for Manley, but don't be surprised if he's out of our rankings in the near future due to a multi-fight deal with a major promotion.
Team Link stud, Camron "Killer Kem" Lochinov (9-2) comes in at #3 on our list of welterweights. There may not be a hotter fighter in the region, as he's rattled off 7 consecutive victories dating back to 2017, with 3 of those wins coming under the Bellator banner. Lochinov has quality wins against #10 ranked CJ Ewer (3-3), #8 ranked Sean Lally (8-5), and most recently beat a talented Billy Goff (2-2) at Reality Fighting a year ago. Lochinov needs to get some fights under his belt in 2019 in order to keep the momentum coming, but it'll be tough for him to find a fight with his track record. Maybe a matchup with Manley is in his future, but regardless, Lochinov won't be on the regional scene much longer with another win or two under his belt.
Tied at #4 are Connecticut based fighter, Jesse Kosakowski (4-1), and CES favorite, John Gotti III (5-0). Kosakowski is a grappling stud, racking up submission victories in his first 4 wins, but lost to 27 fight vet, Reggie Merriweather by TKO at CES 58 last September. He's only 23 years old and has the physical gifts to compete at the next level, but he'll need to evolve his striking game to have success against upper level competition. Lightweight seems to be the right weight class for Kosakowski, so don't be surprised if you see him in those rankings in the near future.
Undefeated Long Island MMA fighter, John Gotti III (5-0), has made a home with CES, notching all of his 5 wins with the Rhode Island based promotion. He's a heavy-handed striker who's improving by leaps and bounds with each passing fight, and he proved that he has a solid grappling game as well. He had a major step up in competition when he danced with Florida's Marcos Lloreda (7-5) back in January, but he proved worthy of the challenge after being drug into deep waters by the American Top Team product. It was a fight that Gotti needed in order to quiet some doubters, and should give him a shot of confidence as a fighter moving forward. The kid is 27 years old and has a clear path ahead of him to stardom if he can continue to win. He's got the look, he's got the backstory, and most importantly, he's got the talent. The UFC will snatch him up in a heart beat if he gets 1-2 more quality wins on FightPass with CES. I don't think the UFC would risk having him lose to tough competition on the Contender Series, so they'll either set him up with a very winnable fight on the show, or call him directly up to the big dance without an audition. Time will tell, but Gotti has the potential to be a superstar in this sport with the way everything is aligning for him.
You can't sleep on #6-8 either. Jeremiah Wells (8-2), Pat Casey (6-2), and Sean Lally (8-5) are 3 beasts that can beat anyone ahead of them on the rankings on a good night. These 3 here are what convince me that the pro welterweight division is the deepest in New England. Not to mention that undefeated Lauzon MMA product, Marty Navis (4-0), comes in at #9! Navis has been on a tear, racking up 4 wins with Cage Titans, although his opponents combined record in those 4 fights was a paltry 3-21. It's time for Navis to step up the level of competition in order for him to climb the rankings and show us how he performs with a little adversity. He's a physical beast at 170 pounds, and with Joe Lauzon in his corner there is a high ceiling for Navis at the regional scene and beyond.
Vinicius de Jesus is without a doubt the king of the welterweights, but there's 4-5 other guys on this list that we could see competing at the next level in the next 2 years, and this is why the pro welterweight division is the deepest in New England.