Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
And there you have it folks, nothing has left this type of impact on Plymouth, Massachusetts since the Pilgrims hit town, Cage Titans 48 lived up to every ounce of hype as Michael Polvere successfully executed the first post-covid Mixed Martial Arts event on the New England regional scene. From debuting amateurs to seasoned veterans and everything in between 26 fighters took the cage at the sold out Plymouth Memorial Hall Saturday night and put it all on the line to the delight of the nearly 2000 spectators in attendance. What started with a riveting tribute to the late Mr. Harry Jones (former Cage Titans ring announcer who passed away one year to the day prior to Cage Titans 48; July 10th 2020, due to complications from Covid-19) Cage Titans 48 tugged at emotions right up until the final bell.
A new breed of Lauzon MMA star is born.
It didn't take long for the sold out Cage Titans crowd to shake the floors at Plymouth Memorial Hall Saturday night, in just the second bout of the evening and just the first contested under the MMA discipline Lauzon MMA's Dan Walsh (1-0) made his first walk to the cage as an amateur backed by an absolutely deafening fan base. A banner with his name on it adorned the mezzanine deck and I even saw a sign that read; "Dan Walsh is my wife's Boyfriend" in the crowd. Walsh would welcome a tough customer in fellow debuter; Dexter MMA's Jake Caskey (0-1) in the first MMA fight under the Cage Titans banner since January of 2020.
These guys earned their stripes in the first round going back and forth for the first three minutes both landing on the feet and aside from a groin strike by Walsh that caused a brief pause, round 1 was full of action from bell to bell. Walsh sprinted out of his corner to begin the second round and was greeted with a barrage of strikes from Caskey, Walsh answered back with a combinations of his own provoking Caskey to take this fight to the ground. That would prove to be a mistake for Caskey who after fighting through submission attempts found himself mounted with the 20 year old Walsh on top of him dropping heavy ground and pound that would excite the referee's stoppage at 2:26 of the second round.
We spoke to Walsh on several occasions during the course of fight week and the kid could not be more humble and well mannered, he honestly reminds me a lot of a young Joe Lauzon with his demeanor. Walsh showed he clearly already has an extensive fan base but he does not seem to be phased by the moment, he acts like he has been there before, even though this was his ammy debut. I guess there is something to be said for being on the mats with numerous high level pros and UFC talent at Lauzon's on a daily basis, as Walsh seemed unphased making his debut. I really like what I see out of this kid and will be very interested in seeing him put the New England Amateur Featherweight division on notice, whenever he returns to the cage!
Congdon and DaSilva remain unbeaten.
Lakeville MMA's Jack Congdon improved to 3-0 as an amateur Welterweight Saturday night with a one sided drubbing of Citadel Martial Arts' Bobby Homer (0-1). Congdon scored his second consecutive knockout while tallying his third consecutive stoppage to open his amateur career. At just 24 years old and with imposing size for a Welterweight this could be a kid to keep an eye on moving forward in his career. I would like to see Congdon take a step up in competition next time out so we can get a better gauge of his abilities while facing heavier adversity, but for now its hard to not be impressed with the undefeated Jack Congdon.
Tri-Force MMA looks to have themselves a stud of a prospect as well, Rhode Island Featherweight Tyrime "The Dream" DaSilva would improve his amateur record to 3-0 Saturday night with a second round Rear Naked Choke over seasoned amateur, multi-promotion champion; Randy Francis (5-8). Francis was a big step up in experience level for DaSilva, who handed out guillotine wins over the Laytons prior to his second round finish of Francis at Cage Titans 48 last weekend. As rumors indicated, with a win, DaSilva earned his shot at the Cage Titans Amateur Featherweight belt and their current title holder; Shane Dougherty (4-0) a fight which will likely be taking place later this summer!
Joe Penafiel and Nate Williams represent the Dirty South in style with their Main Card upsets.
Training out of Fusion X-cel and coming to us from Orlando, Florida; Joe "The Party" Penafiel (6-3) definitely provided us with plenty of sound bites and video clips during fight week. Already making the walk to the cage showered by a chorus of "Boos" Penafiel did not leave his antics at the cage door when he squared off with formally unbeaten Lauzon MMA product Pat Gilbride (3-1). Penafiel looked exceptional in all three rounds, out striking and out grappling the hometown phenom; Gilbride.
Penafiel definitely enjoyed playing the role of "Bad Guy" in this matchup, mocking Gilbride and the Cage Titans crowd several times during the fight. At one point Penafiel ducked under a high kick from Gilbride and the entire crowd gasped in anticipation, "The Party" immediately mocked the crowds reaction, stopping in place and posing as if to show his surprise as well. Then as the fight drew to a close, knowing that he was pitching a shutout, when the 10 second clapper sounded, Joe got up from top position and raised his hand in victory and "walked off" back to his corner. When the score was settled, all three judges agreed with Penafiel, and with scores of 30-27 across the board Penafiel put a halt to the surging prospect; Pat Gilbride.
In the main event, Atlanta, Georgia's "Nasty" Nate Williams (13-7) flew into Plymouth, Massachusetts on just 10 days notice with his sights set on "Shameless" Don Shainis (7-3). Like Penafiel, we had several interactions with Nate Williams during fight week, Nate and his corner-man Robert "The Blue King" Hale (8-5 professional lightweight) could not have been more gracious in the moment. We knew after watching tape on Williams that Shainis would be in for the fight of his life in this one and that's just what ended up taking place in the five round main event slot Saturday night. In what turned out to be a high-level grappling contest, Williams (BJJ Black Belt) remained just one step ahead of Shainis on the ground for the duration of the fight. That effort reflected on the judge's scorecards, with all three judges cage-side scoring this fight 48-47 for "Nasty" Nate Williams.
I would not be the least bit surprised to see these two guys back in New England at some point in the near future, Penafiel has already welcomed matchups with top New England Bantamweights Jay "The Joker" Perrin (9-4, Cage Titans Bantamweight Champion) and Richie "Suave" Santiago (8-3, Contender Series Alum and Cage Titans Commentator). Hell, Penafiel may get a call back just for his Swagger alone, a personality that clearly rubbed Cage Titans fans the wrong way, but the kind that will undoubtedly put asses in seats upon his return. "Nasty" Nate would matchup well with some of the most talented Featherweights and Lightweights in New England, now at 13-7 Williams could carve a path to the UFC by taking out a couple more big names here in New England.
Zebian, Goff, spoil the return of Cage Titans fan favorites "Slippery Pete" and "The Unpredictable One"
Underground MMA's "VIP" Ali Zebian (6-2) survived a second round Powerbomb from the returning UFC competitor "Slippery" Pete Barrett (11-6) as it was Zebian that used his heavy grappling to stifle the advancing Muay Thai striking of Peter Barrett. Zebian was successful closing the distance and forcing Barrett to fight off his back foot for three rounds, in the clinch Ali worked the body and the chin of Barrett, who undoubtedly wore most of the damage going into the judges decision. Although I was shocked to hear that this decision was split, in the end the judges got this one right, in my eyes, declaring your winner by Split-Decision; "VIP" Ali Zebian.
This was a tough one for "Slippery Pete" who was hopeful to bounce back off back to back losses in the UFC with a statement win over Zebian, instead he is now marred in the midst of a three fight skid that leaves many of us wondering; "What's next for Peter Barrett?" For Ali Zebian however, this win over Barrett could very well be the launching pad for his career. Ali has now reeled off back to back wins in big spots, following his decision victory at Bellator 251 over Piankhi Zimmerman, by getting the judges nod here at Cage Titans 48 against "Slippery Pete"
Speaking of launch pads, Dexter MMA's Billy Goff's (4-2) career is now trending in a similar direction as Ali Zebian's, as a lopsided drubbing of Sean "The Unpredictable One" Lally (8-6) at Cage Titans 48, that earned him Fight of the Night honors, has Groton, Connecticut's Goff looking like one of the most promising young prospects in the region. Like Zebian, Goff looked to follow up his TKO of Robson Gracie Jr (3-1) at Bellator 254 by coming into Plymouth Memorial Hall and spoiling the return of Sean Lally, and that is exactly what he did. With a four year head start, in terms of age on the aforementioned Zebian, the 23 year old Goff could very well have the higher ceiling.
Goff has the perfect mixture of strength, size, athleticism and work ethic packed into his 5'10" Welterweight frame to be a serious problem in the division for many years to come. Whether fighting locally on the New England scene or fighting nationally for Bellator MMA this kid should continue to have all eyes on him. The Goff camp from Dexter MMA has to be extremely high on this kid as well, they continue to get him scraps with stiff competition and Goff keeps knocking them down. It's hard not to sing the praises of Billy Goff after a dominating performance full of grappling and high volume striking against a very tough Sean Lally, but I expect this is just a sign of things to come for who I would now consider New England's #1 Welterweight prospect.
Jeff Joy leaves Plymouth Memorial Hall with his first pro win, and left testicle intact.
Loco Lobo protege; Jeff Joy (1-0) was pretty confident that "Cornflakes" Rob Fuller (1-12) wouldn't be able to knock him on his ass during their 140 pound Catchweight bout at Cage Titans 48 Saturday night. So confident that Joy offered to bet "his left nut" on Steve Domenico's The Room Podcast leading up to the fight with Fuller, after Fuller predicted he would knockout the Bourne, Massachusetts native Joy in his pro debut. Fuller came out aggressive as we always expect with him, this time landing a series of stinging calf kicks to the debuting Joy before Joy secured a takedown and locked in his patented rear naked choke causing "Cornflakes" to tap.
This was an excellent way for Jeff Joy to open his professional career, with a first round finish, but Joy is never satisfied with his performances and is right back in the gym, fine tuning his weapons as he stares down his next professional victory. We should see Joy back in the Cage Titans cage sooner than later as he continues his bid for New England Bantamweight domination.
New England MMA would like to extend our gratitude to Cage Titans owner and President Michael Polvere for not only bringing regional MMA back to New England but doing so with such an epic event at Cage Titans 48. We also extend our thanks to the 26 fighters, who without them these shows would simply not exist. Also a huge New England MMA shout out to Igdalia Medina of Igdalia Photography for providing theses incredible action shots of the event!