Although the region was void of action within its borders, there was still plenty going on over the weekend showcasing New England based fighters and promotions. There will be plenty of action over the coming weeks as well. NEF will be holding their 47th event in Auburn, Maine this Saturday, Cage Titans will return to Plymouth Memorial Hall on June 4th, Reality Fighting will be at Mohegan Sun on June 11th, and both CES and Combat FC will be putting on events in Rhode Island and Massachusetts respectively. Before we look forward to an action filled 4 weeks, lets recap what went down last weekend across the country.
Shainis Goes Up in Weight to win the FAC Lightweight Title
#1 ranked Featherweight in the region, "Shameless" Don Shainis (11-3), was in action for the 5th time in less than a year, as he fought at his home away from home under the Fighting Alliance Championship banner in Independence, Missouri. The Massachusetts native now trains full-time at Glory MMA in St. Louis, Missouri under the tutelage of UFC star James Krause. Krause is also the promoter of Fighting Alliance Championship based out of the Missouri area, and a late replacement opportunity was recently presented to Shainis to go up a weight class to fight for the FAC belt against former UFC fighter Cody Pfister (16-9-1).
"Shameless" secured his 4th victory in a row, and also made the trek back to the gym with some gold strapped around his waist. The 31 year old Pfister was coming off of more than a year away from the cage, but he had experience on his side, as he fought for the UFC in 2015/2016 going 1-3 with the organization before being released. The edge in experience had no effect on Shainis though, as he dominated Pfister with a 1st round ground N pound TKO victory in the main event.
Shainis and Pfister traded strikes on the feet before the grappling-heavy Shainis was able to get a takedown and get the fight to the mat. After finding himself on the bottom after a scramble, Shainis used his patented elevator sweep to regain top position and work his game. After advancing to mount, Pfister turned his back and Shainis reigned down unanswered punches and elbows from back mount before the ref had seen enough and stopped the fight at 2:56 of the 1st round.
That is now 2 huge victories for Shainis in the FAC cage. He dominated BJJ blackbelt Chris Lencioni (8-3) via unanimous decision back in February in a fight which many people thought he was the underdog in. This now marks 4 wins in a row for Shainis. He's knocking on the door to the UFC, but it looks like he already has another title fight lined up for June 4th at Cage Titans 53 - his true home base. Don't be surprised if Shainis gets the call for The Contender Series this summer with an impressive win on June 4th.
CES Takes their Show on the Road to Fargo, North Dakota
As many of the top regional promotions in the country are now branching out beyond their home regions and putting on shows throughout the country, Rhode Island's CES MMA has started to do the same. After putting on a show in Florida a year and a half ago, and a few other shows locally, CES made the daunting jaunt out to the great plans and put on their 68th MMA event.
There was only one New England fighter on the card (Jeff Silva - dec loss), but it was an opportunity for a New England based promotion to expand their brand into a new part of the country. The main event was billed as the return of former UFC stud Tony Martin (17-6) after an almost 2 year layoff, taking on local fighter Tyler Vogel (8-5), but it wasn't in the cards, as Vogel was replaced only 48 hours out from the event.
Although their weren't many recognizable names on the card for many New England MMA fans, CES did have arguably the best MMA fighter of all-time in attendance. Jon "Bones" Jones hopped on the mic besides CES matchmaker Pat Sullivan and former UFC fighter Tom Lawlor to call some of the action for the fans watching on UFC FightPass. A serious pull for the Rhode Island based promotion on a big stage.
It's a difficult endeavor for a promotion to travel halfway across the country to put on a show in an unfamiliar territory, but CES was able to execute and continue to build their brand nationally. CES will return to their home base of Lincoln, Rhode Island on June 17th for CES 69, and has a few more shows planned for the northeast over the course of the summer.
The Return of Joe Lauzon that Never Happened
New England MMA godfather, Joe Lauzon (28-15), made the trek out to Phoenix, Arizona for his 28th UFC bout and his first since October of 2019. Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (36-16) was to take on Lauzon on the PPV portion of UFC 274, and it was touted as a fight fans dream, with two long-time UFC stalwarts who both have a pension for being involved in highly entertaining bouts over their long illustrious careers in the top promotion in the world.
Unfortunately the fight never happened. Lauzon and Cerrone both weighed in on Friday morning, and everything seemed to be on track. We were all surprised to hear the announcement at the beginning of the UFC broadcast that the bout had been scrapped due to Cerrone falling ill on the day of the bout, and forced to withdraw from the fight.
There is no word if the bout is going to be rescheduled at a future date, but with both guys quickly nearing the end of their careers, it may be tough to wait much longer for this fight to happen. There is hope that us New England fight fans will see "J-Lau" back in the UFC Octagon at least one more time before he decides to leave his gloves in the cage. It would be great if that was against Cerrone, but at this point I think we all want to see the New England MMA pioneer in the UFC cage, regardless of who the opponent may be.