More than 2000 braved frigid temperatures on Saturday night as New England Fights (NEF) brought its most recent mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event to the stage of Merrill Auditorium in Portland. 22 fights took place under the shadow of the world-famous 1911 Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. It was NEF’s debut at the century-old venue, and the event opened the venerable fight promotion’s ninth season of MMA competition.
In the main event of the evening, UFC veteran Manny “The Bermudez Triangle” Bermudez (15-2) submitted Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington (19-12) with a guillotine choke in the first round. The bout was originally scheduled to be contested for the NEF Professional Lightweight Title, but with Bermudez missing championship weight, he was not eligible to win the belt. The title currently remains vacant.
Bermudez’s victory capped a perfect night for the South Shore Sportfighting team of Rockland, Massachusetts. Teammates Darryl Andrews (1-0) and Tim Birkenhead (2-0) were both successful in their respective fights to lift their gym to a 3-0 record on the event.
Also going 3-0 on the evening was the team of Evolution Athletix based in Saco, Maine. Teddy Politis (1-0), Ben Grady (1-0), and Tyler Smythe (1-0) all stopped their opponents within the first minute of the first round of their respective fights to win their respective amateur debuts.
The biggest story of the night, undoubtedly, came in the co-main event as longtime NEF veteran Jesse “The Viking” Erickson (10-8) handed Josh “Hook On” Harvey (7-1-1) the first loss of his professional career. Erickson, who represents both Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Recon Fitness, put on a brilliant jiu-jitsu clinic that will be remembered for years to come. Trapped against the cage by Harvey early-on in the first round, Erickson pulled guard and transitioned through a chain of submissions before finally settling in with an armbar to force the tapout, sending the Portland crowd into an absolute frenzy.
In a wild heavyweight slugfest that also took place on the professional portion of the card, Ras “Rasquatch” Hylton (5-3) downed Brad Lee (0-1) via technical knockout in the second round. After several minutes of feeling each other out, the pair exchanged in a back-and-forth slobber-knocker in the closing moments of the first round. A little over a minute into the second round, the referee called a halt to the action after several unanswered strikes from the 6’6” Hylton.
Hylton’s First Class MMA teammate Jacob Deppmeyer (1-0) had a successful pro debut, defeating Carl Langston (0-5) via first-round technical knockout. Deppmeyer, trapped Langston in a reverse triangle and rained down a series of unanswered elbows, giving the referee no option but to stop the bout at that point.
On the amateur card, top prospect Mike Bezanson (5-0) of Kaze Dojo remained undefeated with a technical knockout win over Greg Ishihara (2-2) in the first round.
Also remaining undefeated in the amateur ranks were Nate “The Mule” White (5-0) and Caleb “Dr. Feelgood” Austin (4-0), both fighting out of CMBJJ, who finished their respective opponents in the first round.
Another CMBJJ product, Garry Carr (3-1), broke his own record for a second consecutive time when he became, yet again, the oldest athlete to win a fight in the NEF cage. At 58-years-young, Carr took a unanimous decision victory over 23-year-old Austin Hamilton (0-2) in a catchweight amateur fight.
NEF also announced that its next event would see the promotion return to the campus of UMaine Orono at the Collins Center for the Arts on April 18 with “NEF 43: Rampage.” Already confirmed for the event, Zac “Rocky” Richard (6-2-1) will defend the NEF Amateur Lightweight Title against Devin Corson (3-1), while Chelsea Tucker (3-3) is scheduled to meet Oregon’s Caree Hill (6-2) for the NEF Amateur Women’s Flyweight Championship, and Caleb Austin faces James Ploss (1-2) in a long-awaited rematch of their controversial 2017 bout.
The full “NEF 42” results from Portland, Maine:
Manny Bermudez def. Bruce Boyington via tap to guillotine, round 1
Jesse Erickson def. Josh Harvey via tap to armbar, round 1
Ras Hylton def. Brad Lee via technical knockout, round 2
Chris Caterino def. Nate Boucher via tap to armbar, round 1
Jacob Deppmeyer def. Carl Langston via technical knockout, round 1
Tim Birkenhead def. Mike Murray via tap to kneebar, round 2
Joe Howard def. Justin Kangas via KO, round 1
Mike Bezanson def. Greg Ishihara via technical knockout, round 1
Felipe Gunter def. Hannon Sanford via unanimous decision
Nate White def. Brian Cosco via technical knockout, round 1
Darryl Andrews def. Titus Pannell via unanimous decision
Jason Landry def. Dustin Carrier via technical knockout, round 2
Tyler Smythe def. Clifford Redman via technical submission, round 1
Garry Carr def. Austin Hamilton via unanimous decision
Ryan Fogg def. Giuliano Rossi via doctor stoppage, round 2
Ben Grady def. Jon Assam via KO, round 1
Tim Bergeron def. Henry Jeffs via technical knockout, round 1
Caleb Austin def. Dillon Henry via tap to rear-naked choke, round 1
Dylan Williams def. Wyatt Sochin via split decision
Randall Hathorn def. Tim Murray via technical knockout, round 1
Henry Clark def. Taylor Bartlett via technical submission, round 1
Teddy Politis def. Kevin Lamay via tap to Kimura, round 1
New England Fights’ next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 43: Rampage,” will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Collins Center for the Arts at UMaine Orono. Tickets will be on sale this week at www.CollinsCenterfortheArts.com.