PROVIDENCE, R.I. (May 13th, 2017) – Reigning CES MMA World Featherweight Champion Matt Bessetteretained his title for the second time Friday night in the main event of “CES MMA 44” at Twin River Casino in a thrilling back-and-forth war on AXS TV Fights.
Facing tough Texan Rey Trujillo (22-19), who replaced original challenger Jeremy Spoon on just two weeks’ notice, Bessette (22-7, 7 KOs) brought the crown back to his hometown of Stafford, Conn., after ringside physician Peter DeBlasio stopped the bout at the end of the second round due to a nasty cut over Trujillo’s right eye.
Bessette nearly finished Trujillo early in the second courtesy of a short right hook that sent the challenger crumbling to the canvas, but Trujillo made it back to his feet and continue to press the action until Bessette landed a clean kick upstairs that opened the cut. Trujillo survived a barrage of uppercuts at the bell, but the cut continued to bleed, prompting DeBlasio and referee Kevin MacDonald to waive it off.
Bessette has now won seven in a row, including two title defenses since capturing the vacant world title last August.
Providence heavyweight Greg Rebello (22-7) earned his first submission win since 2012, forcing Colorado vet Kevin Ray Sears (6-4) to tap via d’arce choke with only 13 seconds to go in the third and final round of Friday’s co-feature.
Rebello, who’s now won two in a row, dominated from start to finish, peppering Sears upstairs and to the body, nearly finishing him in the second round with a series of hammerfists. Sears survived the third and weathered another onslaught midway through the third before Rebello sunk in the submission in the closing seconds.
Making his long-awaited Rhode Island homecoming, Providence flyweight Sean Soriano (10-5, 5 KOs) secured a much-needed win over New York vet Jacob Bohn (5-3), forcing his opponent to verbally submit at the 3:21 mark of the second round due to unanswered leg kicks.
Released from the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) following three defeats, Soriano fought in Rhode Island on Friday for the first time in five years and looked sharp as ever, weakening Bohn with repeated leg kicks to set up a series of combinations upstairs. Soriano dominated the opening round and continued the onslaught in the second, eventually forcing Bohn to call it quits. The win was Soriano’s first since November of 2015, snapping a two-fight losing streak.
The red-hot Manny Walo (12-2) of Jersey City, N.J., won his fifth consecutive bout in a wild, back-and-forth slugfest with former UFC vet Jon Manley (9-4) of East Hampton, Mass., earning a 30-27 unanimous decision victory on all three scorecards. Manley tried to circle the perimeter and fight on the outside, but Walo – making his second appearance with CES MMA – cut him off effectively and consistently landed the cleaner blows during close exchanges. Walo has not lost since getting stopped by Chuck O’Neil at “CES MMA 27” in 2015.
Making his Rhode Island debut, West Haven, Conn., middleweight Justin Sumter (4-1) picked up the pace over the final two rounds and cruised to a unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Brian Sparrow (2-1) of Sandwich, Mass., 30-27 on all three scorecards.
Sparrow was active in the opening round, repeatedly attempting takedowns, but Sumter defended them all and began landing at will with effective strikes in the second and third, peppering Sparrow as his opponent continued to attempt unsuccessful takedowns.
Fighting for the second time in 2017, undefeated New Britain, Conn., bantamweight Carlos Candelario(6-0, 2 KOs) kept his perfect record intact, stopping last-minute fill-in Timothy Wheeler (2-3) of Harlem with a barrage of unanswered strikes at the 1:12 mark of the opening round. Candelario has won four times in the last 11 months and is now 5-0 under the guidance of CES MMA.
After scoring quick knockout wins in his previous two bouts, Quincy, Mass., light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez (7-2, 5 KOs) found himself in a battle with New Jersey vet Alex Hooben (5-3) before securing the win in the closing seconds of the opening round. Hooben tried to exert his well, pressing Rodriguez against the cage in an attempt to wear him down in the opening minutes, but Rodriguez kept his composure and ultimately gained control on the ground, finishing Hooben with a barrage of unanswered elbows and punches at the 4:46 mark.
Rodriguez has now won his last three fights and needed only 46 seconds combined in his previous two bouts, including a 39-second knockout win over James Dysard at “CES MMA 43” in April.
Philadelphia welterweight Paul Sims (1-0) earned a victory in his pro debut in the finale of the preliminary card, defeating Pawtucket, R.I., vet Toby Oden (2-2) by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27. Oden came out strong and nearly sunk in a guillotine choke in the opening round, but Sims survived and eventually wore out his opponent, using his size and strength to control the fight on the ground.
Female flyweights Kerri Kenneson (1-0) of Hooksett, N.H., and Maryland native Jennifer Norris (3-1) went toe-to-toe for three rounds with Kenneson earning the clear victory by unanimous decision, 30-27, across the board. Kenneson scored takedowns in each of the first two rounds and dominated the action on the ground, also opening a cut under Norris’ right eye with a clean elbow in the second. The third round featured more striking with Kenneson as the aggressor, landing the cleaner, more damaging blows.
Brazilian middleweight Reginaldo Felix (1-2), now fighting of Framingham, Mass., earned his first win as a pro in his U.S. debut, knockout out fellow Framingham vet Adam Quitt (1-5) with a huge overhand right 15 seconds into the opening round.
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