Reigning bantamweight world champion Gravely aims for second title defense March 29th

Photo by Will Paul

HARTFORD, Conn.: CES MMA 55 just beefed up its lineup with another world-title bout added to the March 29th showcase in Connecticut.

Reigning CES MMA World Bantamweight Champion Tony Gravely (16-5, 5 KOs) of Martinsville, Va., attempts to defend his title for a second time when he battles Kingston, N.Y., native Darren Mima (10-7, 3 KOs) in one of two championship bouts on the main card of CES MMA 55at the Connecticut Convention Center.

The March 29th showcase is the first sanctioned professional mixed martial arts event in the state of Connecticut. Gravely joins reigning welterweight title-holder Jeremiah Wells (6-1, 2 KOs) of Philadelphia, who also attempts to defend his title in a five-round bout against Brazilian challenger Vinicius De Jesus (7-2, 3 KOs) of Stamford, Conn.

The main card streams live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 9 p.m. ET with Michael Parente handling play-by-play alongside color commentator and longtime UFC vet “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. The preliminary card begins at 7. Tickets for the event are priced at $35.00, $50.00, $125.00 and $150.00 (VIP) and are available for purchase online at www.cesmma.com or www.ctconventions.com or by phone at 401-724-2253. All fights and fighters subject to change.

Gravely is on an impressive streak entering his March 29th title defense. The 27-year-old bantamweight won the title at CES MMA 53, slamming Kody Nordby unconscious 36 seconds into the opening round, and defended it for the first time at CES MMA 54, making his Fight Pass debut with an impressive fourth-round knockout win over regional rival Kris Moutinho. Gravely has won five in a row heading into his next title defense against the versatile Mima, who makes his second appearance with CES MMA and first since 2015.

Gravely-Mima joins the Wells-De Jesus bout, which headlines CES MMA 55. Like Gravely, Wells is currently one of the promotion’s hottest fighters, having won his last three bouts, including a hard-earned unanimous decision over Jason Norwood to capture the then vacant title at CES MMA 52. The dangerous De Jesus, a four-time Bellator vet, has won his last two fights, including a unanimous decision victory over Tim Caron in October and a dominant first-round knockout against Rodolfo Barcellos at Bellator 216.

CES MMA 55 also features plenty of Connecticut flair, notably Hartford’s own Matt Bessette (22-9), a former UFC flyweight contender and seven-time CES MMA vet who returns to the promotion for the first time since May of 2017 and fights in his home state for the first time since 2016. Bessette, currently 6-1 lifetime with CES MMA, faces Tim Dooling (7-4, 2 KOs) of Trenton, N.J. He has won seven of his last nine fights, including a career-best seven-fight win streak from October of 2015 to May of 2017. During that stretch, Bessette captured the then vacant CES MMA World Featherweight Title with a win over Joe Pingitore at CES MMA 37 and later headlined CES MMA 41with an impressive, third-round knockout win over Kevin Croom.

Also on the main card, Providence, R.I., middleweight Eric Spicely (11-4, 2 KOs) and unbeaten Connecticut light heavyweight William Knight (4-0, 4 KOs) return to CES MMA in separate bouts. A six-time UFC and nine-time CES MMA vet, Spicely aims for his second consecutive win following a successful return to the promotion in January in which he earned just his second career win by knockout, stopping Leo Plaat 3:53 of the opening round. Knight also fought in January at CES MMA 54, recording his fourth career win by knockout against veteran Kevin Haley. Spicely faces Brazilian Caio Magalhaes (10-6, 3 KOs), a seven-time UFC vet, while Knight battles Dallas’ Carlton Little (7-7, 6 KOs), who also fought on the undercard at CES MMA 54, both in three-round bouts.

The main card of CES MMA 55 also features the return of Rocky Hill, Conn., bantamweight Dan Dubuque (7-2, 2 KOs), who faces Ohio’s Antonio Castillo Jr. (10-10, 1 KO) in a three-round bout, Dubuque’s first appearance with CES MMA since 2016.

Highlighting the preliminary card, female strawweight Hilarie Rose (2-1, 1 KO) of Norwood, Mass, returns to face Rosa Acevedo (4-3, 1 KO) of Nebraska and unbeaten light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (4-0) of Bridgewater, Mass., battles Mansfield, Ohio, native Marquis Allen (1-2) in a rematch of their bout at CES MMA 50, which Cherant won by submission. Cherant is undefeated in the CES MMA cage with all four wins coming by first-round submission.

Also on the preliminary card, flyweight Justin Valentin (2-0) of Meriden, Conn., faces Jason Huntley (5-8, 1 KO) of Minnesota, lightweight Gil Pinheiro (0-2) of Naugatuck, Conn., battles Tom Connolly of Maine and middleweight Carlos Rivera (1-4) of Meriden faces New York native Mike DiOrio (1-3).