Soukhamthath stops Nordby in final round to earn CES MMA title; Balletto Jr. earns 1st career victory


LINCOLN, R.I. (March 11th, 2016) – Andre Soukhamthath captured the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight Championship Friday at Twin River Casino against rival Kody Nordby, knocking his opponent out cold with a flying knee in the fifth and final round of their highly-anticipated showdown in the main event of “CES MMA XXXIII” on AXS TV.

Nordby (6-4) and Soukhamthath (10-3, 6 KOs), both born in Woonsocket, R.I., carried a bitter, personal feud into Friday’s bout, a heated rivalry that began with tough talk from both sides in the weeks leading up to the fight and culminated with a near melee at Thursday’s pre-fight weigh-in.

With the sold-out crowd providing a tremendous buzz for Friday’s nationally-televised title bout, both fighters came out energized, but it was Soukhamthath who controlled the pace over the first three rounds, continuously stuffing Nordby’s takedown attempts and breaking down his opponent with effective strikes.

Soukhamthath opened a cut over Nordby’s right eye in the opening round courtesy of a series of fists and elbows, and continued to control the fight until the fourth round when Nordby scored one of his trademark takedowns and nearly locked in two submissions, the first via guillotine and later with an attempted rear naked choke.

Soukhamthath, at this point now bleeding from the nose, survived both submission attempts and entered the fifth round ahead on the scorecards, but he went for the knockout blow when Nordby attempted a looping left hook, leaving his chin exposed. Soukhamthath countered with a right knee to the face, knocking Nordby down and out at the 1:36 mark.

Nordby lost for the first time in three fights and had won back-to-back bouts on AXS TV entering Friday, including a critical win over Dinis Paiva in his network television debut. Soukhamthath has now won his last two, both on AXS TV, and is now the promotion’s first bantamweight title-holder.  

East Bridgewater, Mass., middleweight Chuck O’Neil (16-8) snapped his two-fight losing streak in the co-feature, holding on to defeat former training partner and Amherst, N.H., native Dennis Olson, 29-28 on all three scorecards, a huge win for the former Ultimate Fighter vet.

O’Neil narrowly won the first two rounds, controlling the pace in the second with an early takedown and effective striking from the mount position with a series of elbows to grab a two-round advantage. Olson stormed out of his corner to start the third and scored a quick takedown, but couldn’t get the finish despite not allowing O’Neil to get back to his feet until the closing minutes. O’Neil, CES MMA’s former welterweight champion, is back in the win column in his second fight at 185 pounds while Olson has lost his last three.

In what might’ve been the most complete performance of his career, East Providence, R.I., lightweight Nate Andrews (8-1, 5 KOs) opened the AXS TV main card with an impressive second-round knockout win over former CES MMA Lightweight Champion Julian Lane (9-6) of Mansfield, Ohio.

Andrews was the aggressor from the opening bell, dominating with head kicks and straight right hands to keep Lane backpedaling, but Lane fought back, nearly submitting Andrews, first with a guillotine in the opening round and again in the second with a rear naked choke. Andrews escaped both times and finished the shortly thereafter, clipping Lane with a hard left uppercut that bloodied his nose and sent him tumbling to the canvas. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in at the 3:58 mark to stop the bout. Andrews has now won back-to-back fights since his first and only career loss to Gemiyale Adkins at “CES MMA XXV.”

Also on the main card, Providence’s Greg Rebello (20-6, 12 KOs) kept his knockout streak alive, earning his fourth consecutive win and third in a row by stoppage, defeating Keith Bell (6-7) of Newport News, Va., with a series of unanswered strikes with just two seconds remaining in the opening round.

After taking some time to feel out his opponent, Rebello finally landed square on Bell’s chin with a hard right toward the end of the round. With Bell staggering, Rebello went for the kill, backing Bell against the cage with a flying knee and finishing him with a series of rights and lefts to the temple with his opponent face down on the canvas trying to cover up. Bell nearly survived the round, but referee Kevin MacDonald stepped in to wave it off at the 4:58 mark.

Rebello has now won 20 fights as a pro, including 12 by knockout, and is undefeated on AXS TV with wins over J.A. DudleyTyler King and Mike Mucitelli.

Fellow heavyweight Juliano Coutinho (7-2), fighting out of West Yarmouth, Mass., by way of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, earned a split decision win over Coconut Creek, Fla., vet Chaz Morgan (9-2), 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. Judge Paul Asmar scored the bout in favor of Morgan while Bryan Miner and Wayne Lima gave Coutinho the nod.

In the featherweight division, Matt Bessette (17-7) of Stafford, Conn., made quick work of Silvis, Ill., veteran Tory Bogguess (18-13), earing the submission win via triangle at 2:48 of the opening round. Bogguess took the fight on short notice when Tito Jones, Bessette’s original opponent, withdrew earlier this week due to injury, but entered Friday’s bout with 14 career submission victories in 30 pro fights.   

Victories by Rhode Islanders Joe Pingitore and Gary Balletto Jr. highlighted the preliminary card of “CES MMA XXXIII” Friday at Twin River Casino.

Balletto Jr. (1-1), the son of boxing icon Gary Balletto, earned his first professional win, submitting Auburn, N.Y., pro debut Cruz Johnson (0-1) at the 2:37 mark of the opening round in a welterweight bout while Pingitore (6-2-1, 2 KOs) avenged one of his two career losses, beating New Hampshire’s Taylor Trahan (5-6) via third-round knockout in a rematch of their 2014 bout.

Balletto Jr. looked much sharper Friday than he did in his pro debut in August, coming out as the aggressor against the overmatched Johnson. The 21-year-old welterweight backed Johnson into a corner with an effective three-punch combo and then picked up his opponent at the hip and slammed him to the canvas. Following another one-two combo with Johnson on his back, Balletto Jr. quickly locked in the heel hook, forcing an immediate submission.  

Pingitore, who lost to Trahan by third-round submission the first time the two faced one another, returned the favor Friday, earning a third-round stoppage of his own at the 1:55 mark, courtesy of a flying knee to the face that busted open Trahan’s nose. With Trahan face down covering up, Pingitore unloaded with a series of unanswered strikes, forcing MacDonald to stop the fight.

Making his professional debut out of Norwood, Mass., featherweight Matt Tullos (1-0) earned an impressive win over fellow newcomer Shan Bachok (0-1) of Fairfield, N.J., submitting is opponent via rear naked choke at 3:46 of the opening round. Tullos dominated from the start, scoring two big takedowns and softening Bachok with a series of overhand strikes before locking in the choke in the closing minutes.

Featherweight Noel Arcibal (2-1) of Wharton, N.J., kicked off the preliminary card with a dominant unanimous decision win over Cranston’s Shane DeCristoforo (1-2), 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. Arcibal dominated the striking early, keeping DeCristoforo at bay with punishing leg kicks in the opening round, and then took over on the ground over the final 10 minutes. DeCristoforo escaped several submission attempts, but couldn’t get back to his feet long enough to turn the fight around.  

The four preliminary bouts preceded the “CES MMA XXXIII” main card, which began at 9 p.m. ET on AXS TV.


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