Bantamweight Kody Nordby contemplated retirement following his shocking loss to Tony Gravely at CES MMA 53. He had just returned home from a nine-month deployment to Iraq and Syria as a Sergeant with the U.S. Army and his wife was pregnant with their second child.
Not so fast.
While sitting at home watching Dana White’s Contender Series week in, week out, the 26-year-old Cumberland, RI, native realized he had a lot left in the tank, not to mention an opportunity to take his dormant career to the next level.
“Each week, I’m watching, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that guy made it so soon,’” Nordby said of the groundbreaking series, which offers winners a chance to earn a contract with the UFC.
“I can’t just sit on the sidelines watching these people I know I can beat go out there and win. It lit a fire.”
The heat is back on Friday night as Nordby (9-5) makes his long-awaited return at CES 59 at Twin River Casino Hotel on UFC FIGHT PASS® against Da’mon Blackshear (4-3, 1 KO) of Fayetteville, NC. It’s been 11 months since Nordby’s loss to Gravely on AXS TV, but it didn’t take long for the former standout high school wrestler to get back into fight shape.
As someone who always stays ready – even with his second son entering the world only a month ago – Nordby is as ready as he’ll ever be for what he hopes is another run back to the top of the 135-pound division.
“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “I’m excited, but I’m going to take it one fight at a time.”
Tickets for CES 59 start at $47 and are available online at www.cesmma.com or www.showclix.com or by phone at 401-724-2253. Doors open at 6 p.m. ET with the first preliminary bout beginning at 7. The UFC FIGHT PASS® live stream kicks off at 8 with the broadcast team of Michael Parente and 11-time UFC vet Tom Lawlor. UFC FIGHT PASS® subscriptions are available at www.ufcfightpass.com.
The last time Nordby fought, he was supposed to face Zachary Burhans, but when Gravely’s original opponent, Dinis Paiva, was forced to withdraw the day of the weigh-in, CES MMA presented Nordby with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I was in the sauna and I suddenly get the call asking if I wanted to step up to the main event and fight Gravely for the vacant title,” Nordby said. “It was an easy decision. There’s no way you can say no.”
Just a few hours before stepping on the scale, Nordby agreed to change course, knowing he’d have to adapt to facing an accomplished wrestler as opposed to Burhans, a natural striker, in addition to stepping up from a scheduled three-round bout to a potential five-round affair. Nordby came out firing from the opening bell and locked in what appeared to be a solid armbar attempt, but Gravely picked him up off the canvas and slammed him on his head twice. The second blow knocked Nordby unconscious, ending the fight in just 36 seconds.
“It is what it is,” Nordby said. “You just have to roll with the punches.”
Since then, he’s remained active outside the cage, adding a new layer to his game by training with fellow Rhode Islander Nate Andrews, a noted striker who is currently competing with the Professional Fighters League. The goal is to return to the cage with a new skill set in addition to his wrestling acumen.
“I want to showcase my standup more,” Nordby said. “I knew going back and working at Tri-Force MMA would help me bridge that gap.”
“Physically, I feel great,” he continued. “This has been one of the best camps of my life. I’m in really good shape. My wife is doing a great job with the baby letting me get out and train twice a day. Mentally, I’m ready. I’m looking forward to getting back in there.”
Friday’s show also features the return of fan-favorites Paiva (12-7, 7 KOs) of East Providence, RI, and Jose Lugo (4-1, 1 KO) of Woonsocket, RI, in addition to a special appearance by unbeaten light heavyweight William Knight (5-0, 5 KOs) of Connecticut, who recently signed a development deal with the UFC following his win over Herdem Alacabek in Week 8 of the Dana White’s Contender Series. Reigning CES MMA World Heavyweight champion Greg Rebello’s scheduled five-round title defense for Friday’s main card has been postponed to 2020 due to an injury sustained by challenger Parnell Davis.
Making his record 20th appearance with CES MMA, Paiva battles New Jersey’s Tim Dooling (8-5, 3 KOs) while Lugo returns in an intriguing showdown against fellow CES MMA veteran and Whitesville, NY, native Josh Ricci (4-2).
Also on the main card, lightweight Moses Monteiro (2-1, 1 KO) of Everett, MA, battles Darius Estelle (5-2, 2 KOs) of Michigan. Boston lightweight Andres Jeudi (7-6, 3 KOs) fights for the first time since 2016 in a showdown against upstate New York veteran Jacob Bohn (7-6, 1 KO), and Sanad Armouti (1-0, 1 KO), also of Boston, faces Miami’s Marcos Lloreda (6-5, 2 KOs) in welterweight action. Preliminary bouts include bantamweight Askik Ajim (1-0) of Long Island battling Arslan Otchiyev (1-1) of Stratford, CT; welterweight Hugh McKenna (2-4) of Syosset, NY, against fellow New Yorker and undefeated amateur Jarell Davis; and featherweight Nate Ghareeb (1-0, 1 KO) of Southampton, MA, facing East Rochester, NY, native Zachary Johnson (0-2).
Listed below are weights for all of the participants at CES MMA 59, scheduled for Friday, October 25 at Twin River Casino Hotel and streaming live on UFC FIGHT PASS.
CES MMA 59 weigh-in results:
East Providence, RI
12-7, 7 KOs
8-5, 3 KOs
5-0, 5 KOs
9-5, 5 KOs
4-3, 1 KO
4-1, 1 KO
7-6, 3 KOs
Le Roy, NY
7-6, 1 KO
2-1, 1 KO
5-2, 2 KOs
1-0, 1 KO
6-5, 2 KOs
Long Island, NY
South Hampton, MA
1-0, 1 KO
East Rochester, NY
*Fighter will weigh in Friday