Photo courtesy of Will Paul
REIGNING CES MMA lightweight champion Luis Felix (left) of Providence, R.I., returns to the cage for the first time in 2016 when he faces Bellator veteran Ryan Sanders of Bangor, Maine in the main event of “CES MMA XXXII” live on AXS TV from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on Jan. 8th, the debut edition of the CES MMA 2016 AXS TV Fight Series. With Felix’s original opponent forced to withdraw due to injury, Sanders has answered the bell, headlining in his CES MMA debut.
LINCOLN, R.I. (Dec. 30th, 2015) — A new year could lead to the crowning of a new champion when CES MMA kicks off its highly anticipated 2016 AXS TV Fight Series with “CES MMA XXXII” on Friday, Jan. 8th, 2016 at Twin River Casino.
One of the sport’s best kept secrets, reigning CES MMA welterweight champion Gil Freitas (18-5, 6 KOs) makes his first title defense in a five-round bout against Cincinnati’s Chris Curtis (12-4, 4 KOs), who aims to become the third Ohio-born fighter to capture one of the promotion’s titles, joining a list that includes UFC vetsJulian Lane and Dominique Steele.
Freitas’ belt and five-fight win streak are on the line. The stretch began in 2012 and continued in October with an impressive submission win over Massachusetts vetChip Pollard, one of the region’s top strikers, for the then-vacant CES MMA title. The 5-foot-10 Curtis has won three consecutive fights and five of his last six dating back to August of 2013.
The 2016 series debut also features the long-awaited return of reigning CES MMA lightweight champion Luis Felix (14-8, 5 KOs) of Providence, who puts his three-fight win streak on the line in the main event against Ryan Sanders (9-7, 1 KO) of Bangor, Maine.
Under the promotional guidance of CES, Felix has gone from a fledgling MMA journeyman to a network television star, winning 9 of his last 11 fights since starting his career 5-6. He’ll make his fifth appearance on AXS TV next Friday against the durable Sanders, a former Bellator vet who boasts wins over former CES title challenger Lucas Cruz and ex-Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) standoutMarcus Davis. Felix’s original opponent, Waylon Lowe, withdrew due to injury.
Another familiar face in the northeast returns to the CES MMA cage Jan. 8th as Groton, Conn., heavyweight and four-time Bellator vet Josh Diekmann (15-6, 11 KOs), now in his 11th year as a pro, battles fellow knockout artist Ashley Gooch (8-4, 6 KOs) of Nashville, Tenn. Of their combined 23 wins, 17 have come via knockout. Jan. 8th will be Diekmann’s fourth appearance with CES MMA.
Rising featherweight Kyle Bochniak (5-0, 2 KOs) makes his second appearance on the televised main card as he puts his undefeated record on the line against Taylor Trahan (5-4) of St. Johnsbury, Vt., while red-hot featherweight Kody Nordby (5-3) of Cumberland, R.I., fresh off an outstanding win over Dinis Paiva at “CES MMA XXXI,” returns to the main card in a three-round bout against Derek Shorey (3-2, 2 KOs) of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, a last-minute replacement for Zech Lange.
Rounding out the main card, undefeated bantamweight Rico DiSciullo (5-0, 2 KOs) of Peabody, Mass., faces 16-fight vet Chino Duran (8-8, 4 KOs) of Homestead, Fla. Fresh off a win over Jake Constant, DiSciullo is making his fourth appearance with CES and his second on the televised main card while Duran aims for his third win in four fights.
The preliminary card features six exciting bouts, starting with a featherweight showdown between unbeaten Manny Bermudez (3-0, 1 KO) of Abington, Mass., andEvan Parker (5-3, 1 KO) of nearby Worcester. None of Bermudez’s previous three opponents made it out of the first round and the 5-foot-6 submission specialist is looking to make it 4-for-4 against the game Parker, who choked out Pete Rogers Jr.in his CES MMA debut in June. South Boston featherweight James Murrin (3-3, 2 KOs) faces Mak Kelleher (0-2) of upstate New York and Providence’s Keenan Raymond (2-2) battles newcomer Ryan Todd of Cortland, N.Y.
Also on the preliminary card, middleweights Pat McCrohan (1-0, 1 KO) of Beverly, Mass., and Boston’s Mike Rodriguez (2-0, 2 KOs) put their unbeaten records and knockout streaks on the line against one another and flyweight David Baxter (1-0) of Bellingham, Mass., makes his CES MMA debut against newcomer Joshua Ricci of Whitesville, N.Y. Providence’s Nick Iaciofano (2-0, 1 KO) battles Luay Ashkar of Syracuse in a three-round flyweight bout.