Two world titles up for grabs at CES MMA 64 in Hartford

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Hartford, CT CES MMA, the region’s No. 1 combat sports promotion, returns to Connecticut and UFC FIGHT PASS® Friday, September 17 with a double main event featuring two world title fights.

CES MMA 64 features fan favorite, Hartford native, and reigning CES MMA Featherweight Champion Matt Bessette aims to become the first fighter to simultaneously hold CES MMA world titles in two different weight classes when he faces Hawaii’s Ryan Dela Cruz for the promotion’s vacant Lightweight World Championship, plus reigning CES MMA Bantamweight World Champion Joshua Smith putting his title on the line against challenger Jay Perrin of Hudson, NH.

The event streams live on FIGHT PASS from the Connecticut Convention Center in downtown Hartford beginning at 8 pm ET with with play-by-play announcer Michael Parente (@MichaelParente) and color commentator Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon), a 27-time UFC vet, and FUN 107 on-air personality and cageside correspondent Madelyn Grimaldi(@maddieonair). Tickets can be purchased online at CESFights.com.

One of the current longest-tenured fighters in CES MMA history, Bessette (24-10, 8 KOs) makes his 10th appearance with the promotion in what will be his fourth world title fight. He won the then vacant featherweight championship at CES 37 in 2016, defeating Joe Pingitore by heel hook, and defended it twice before vacating the belt to appear on Dana White’s Contender Series a year later. Three years later, Bessette won back the featherweight title at CES 60 with a knockout win over Charles Cheeks III. Campaigning at 155, Bessette could make history on the 17th if he captures the lightweight title with a win over Dela Cruz, who is replacing Bruce Boyington (COVID-19) as Bessette’s challenger in the first of two world title fights at CES 64.

The 36-year-old Dela Cruz (12-7, 6 KOs) has won four of his last five, including his first and only appearance with Bellator in 2018. He last fought in February of 2020, just weeks before the COVID pandemic shut down most live sporting events. In that fight, he avenged a rare defeat by stopping veteran Spencer Quinones in the opening round in a rematch of their first fight in 2019.

In the second half of the double main event, the newly-crowned Smith (8-5, 4 KOs) makes his highly-anticipated first title defense since defeating longtime CES MMA veteran Dinis Paiva for the then vacant championship at CES 62 in Florida. The charismatic Smith has won four of his last five, but faces a tall order against the hungry Perrin (9-4, 2 KOs), who’s making a big splash in his promotional debut. Perrin has been hot of late, winning six of his last seven to vault into title contention. He also appeared on the Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019 against Dwight Joseph.

Also appearing at CES 64, Cranston, RI, welterweight Gary Balletto III (6-2, 2 KOs) transitions back to the cage following a victorious boxing match when he faces Miami’s Daniel Frunza (4-1, 3 KOs). Balletto recently boxed on the undercard of CES Boxing’s outdoor event June 19, defeating fellow MMA fighter turned boxer William Dunkle. He recently appeared at CES 62 in his first MMA fight in more than three years.

In middleweight action, Hartford’s Justin Sumter (7-4, 2 KOs) makes his fourth appearance with the promotion and first since 2017 in a three-round bout against Shane O’Shea (4-2, 2 KOs) of Florida following a four-fight stint with the Dana White’s Contender Series and Bellator while red-hot lightweight Eddy George (3-0, 3 KOs) looks to keep his perfect record intact against Brooklyn’s Rodolfo Barcellos (1-1).

The main card also features Bristol, CT, lightweight Alexandra Ballou (2-1, 2 KOs) facing Gabriella Gulfin (2-3) of nearby Gilford and an exciting flyweight bout between fellow Gilford native Harris Bonfiglio (2-1) and debut Kyle Linder of Danbury in the second of two intra-state showdowns.

Also in the flyweight division, David Durao of Hartford makes his professional debut against Los Angeles’ Israel Galvan (1-2). Southampton, MA, featherweight Nate Ghareeb (3-1, 3 KOs) battles Waycross, GA, native William Banks (1-1) and Charra Phon of North Haven, CT, makes his professional debut in a bantamweight bout against Aaron Reese (0-2) of Shaker Heights, OH. Welterweight Cameron Resnisky of Connecticut will also make his debut in a separate three-round bout.

(CES photo courtesy of Will Paul)

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