History was made Friday night in Connecticut, as CES 55 became the first sanctioned MMA event in the state outside of tribal lands.
The premier New England MMA promotion, CES MMA made history back in 2010, when they held the first sanctioned MMA event in the state of Rhode Island. The promotion would make history once again on Friday night when they held the first-ever officially sanctioned event in the state of Connecticut (not counting events held on tribal grounds).
The event which aired live on UFC Fight Pass featured two title fights and several UFC veterans. In the main event, Philadelphia based fighter, Jeremiah Wells defends his welterweight title against Vinicius De Jesus. The other title fight pits champion, Tony Gravely against challenger, Darren Mima for the bantamweight crown.
Some other notable matchup sees UFC veteran, Matt Bessette fighting Tim Dooling plus fellow UFC veterans Eric Spicely and Caio Magalhaes going to war.
Jeremiah Wells vs Vinicius De Jesus for CES Welterweight Title
Two of the very best welterweight fighters not signed with a major organization met with the hopes the winner won’t be denied their chance anymore.
Jeremiah Wells is an explosive athlete, that trains out the red-hot Renzo Gracie Philly Academy. Wells came into the fight off three straight impressive wins in CES.
Vinicius De Jesus was born in Brazil but calls Stamford, Connecticut home. The 29-year-old fighter has won six out of his last seven bouts and possess some of the mostly deadly leg kicks in all of MMA.
Round 1: Wells comes out in the southpaw stance, while DeJesus stands orthodox. DeJesus takes the center, while Wells circles the perimeter. After a brief feeling out, Wells backs DeJesus up with a grazing right hand. The Brazilian responds with a snapping leg kick.
Wells hopes into the pocket but is tagged with a right hand. Wells catches a kick from his opponent and runs him across the cage. He is holding onto the single leg, while DeJesus attempts to stop from being taken down. Wells keeps DeJesus against the cage and stomps on the feet of the Brazilian a couple of times before breaking.
They both throw hard leg kicks that connect. DeJesus follows with a body kick but is knocked down by a spinning wheel kick from Wells. The Brazilian pops up to feet and responds with a hard leg kick.
Close round but Wells gets it with the spinning wheel kick. 10-9 for Wells.
Wells briefly catches a high kick from DeJesus and trips him down, but he springs back to his feet. They break and DeJesus lands a thudding leg kick. Wells slides out of the way of the next one and grabs and slams DeJesus to the canvas.
The Brazilian pops back up and kicks Wells in the midsection. He follows it up with a poke in the eye that briefly stops the action.
Wells touches DeJesus with a left hook and then shoots in for a takedown but can’t get him down. DeJesus chops at the lead leg again. He follows up with a push kick to the gut.
DeJesus gets to work on the lead leg with three very hard kicks. Wells responds with a clean right hand.
Wells is circling around the cage until he is hit with a right hand. Wells stumbles and is smashed with a body kick as the round comes to an end.
DeJesus is starting to settle in. 10-9 for DeJesus.
Round 3: DeJesus starts the action with a stiff jab. He slaps the lead leg with another kick. Another one buckles the leg of Wells. The Brazilian is really going to work on it. Wells slides in the pocket and hits his adversary with a left hook.
DeJesus goes back to work on the lead leg. Wells is firing back but hitting just air. Wells tries to dart into range but is met by a jab. DeJesus follows with a left hook. DeJesus steps into the pocket and hits Wells with a right hand.
The Brazilian follows up with another leg kick. Wells finally slides away from a punch and lands a hard shot of his own. This builds his confidence and he moves forward with a low calf kick. DeJesus immediately puts a stop to it with a hard leg kick of his own.
The round ends with Wells looking frustrated. 10-9 round for DeJesus.
Round 4: Wells is gonna have to change things up as the fight is starting to slip away from him.
Wells opens the round by countering a leg kick with a three punch combo. DeJesus seems unfazed and kicks the leg once again. DeJesus kicks Wells in the groin, which briefly stops the action.
When they resume, DeJesus marches down Wells, who continually circles the cage. DeJesus lands another leg kick as Wells just circles away.
Not a lot of action, as DeJesus is chasing Wells.
Finally, DeJesus goes up high with a kick that clips Wells. He continually follows. Three inside kicks land for DeJesus. The round ends with DeJesus touching Wells with a jab.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 DeJesus.
Wells lands a 1-2 combo to start the round. DeJesus obviously kicks the leg, but Wells hits him back with a jab.
Midway through the round and not much is happening until DeJesus hits Wells with a very loud kick to the body. Wells responds with a short hook of his own. They exchange right hands. Wells backs DeJesus up with a spinning backfist that is partially blocked.
DeJesus kicks the legs, but Wells darts forward with three punches. He briefly falls after missing a right hand.
Wells hits DeJesus with a 1-2 combo but is hit with a body kick as the round comes to an end.
Very close round. Cageside Press gives it 10-9 for Wells but believes we have a new champion, DeJesus with a score of 48-47.
Official Results: Vinicius De Jesus beats Jeremiah Wells to win the welterweight title by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, and 48-47).
Matt Bessette vs Tim Dooling
UFC veteran, Matt Bessette returned to the cage for the first time after being released from the promotion when he faced off against Tim Dooling. Bessette, who has long been a staple in the New England scene, got to fulfill what he called his dream by fighting in his home city, Hartford.
Round 1: Bessette grazes Dooling with a high kick. He follows it up with a clean right hand and body kick. He shows nice head movement by sliding away from an attack from Dooling and peppering him with shots. He presses forward catching a kick and then flooring Dooling with a perfectly timed spinning back fist.
Dooling pops up but is tagged by a combination from Bessette. He follows up with a straight hand. It is all Bessette in the opening half of the round.
Bessette hits a bloodied Dooling with three clean right hands. Dooling is firing back but not really connecting on anything.
Bessette stuns Dooling with a left hand. The New Jersey fighter follows him to the canvas but Dolling secures the butterfly guard. The Mangler hits his foe with an elbow. Doling gets to his feet as the round comes to an end.
Big round for Bessette.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-8 for Bessette.
Round 2: Dooling comes out firing to start the second round. He backs up the UFC veteran with two right hands. Bessette circles away from trouble and then smashes Dooling with a right hand. They exchange right hands. Bessette backs Dooling up with a three-punch combination. The New Jersey fighter hits Bessette with an uppercut but is taken down.
Bessette briefly has Dooling’s back, but the fighter is able to get to his own back. The Hartford native works from Dooling’s closed guard. He hits Dooling with a few hammerfists and an elbow but the action has greatly slowed.
In the last seconds, Dooling rushes to his feet and attempts a cartwheel kick.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Bessette
Dooling fires off a high kick that gets blocked. Bessette slides away from a punch and lands a right hand. He follows up with a kick to the body. Dooling responds with two hard body kicks.
They briefly clinch and Bessette lands a right hook before being taken down. Doling surprisingly lets Bessette up.
Dooling backs Bessette up with a hard leg kick and a stiff jab. Bessette responds with three hard right hands and a big uppercut. He follows up with two more big shots.
The Mangler hits Dooling with a three punch combination and two overhand rights. They clinch and Bessette lands a knee but gets tagged with a right hand. Dooling hits him with a hard leg kick. The fight comes to an end with Bessette landing the last clean punch.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 and the fight 30-26 for Bessette.
Official Results: Matt Bessette beats Tim Dooling by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, and 29-28).
Caio Magalhaes vs Eric Spicely
Two UFC veterans, Caio Magalhaes and Eric Spicely met in a key main card bout with the winner hoping to earn their way back to a big show. Both fighters are highly decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts.
Magalhaes hurts Spicely with a hard kick to the body. The Rhode Island native tries to back up but Magalhaes sprints at him, hitting him with several hard shots. Spicely is able to brab Magalhaes briefly, but can’t hold him. The Brazilian fires off many more big shots rocking Spicely. If Magalhaes keeps up this pace, he will gas out quickly.
Spicely clinches with Magalhaes, but Magalhaes break free. The action is stopped after Spicely is poked in the eye.
When the action picks up, Magalhaes fires off two hard kicks to the body followed by a jab. Spicely is marching forward but is losing the exchanges.
Spicely does back up Magalhaes with two straight right hands and an uppercut. The Tri-Star product grabs a body lock but can’t take Magalhaes down. Suddenly Spicely hits Magalhaes with a knee to the body that curls him over, then he connects on a right hand that sends the Brazilian crashing to the ground. The referee jumps in before he can take any more damage.
Official Results: Eric Spicely beats Caio Magalhaes by first-round knockout.
Dan Dubuque vs Antonio Castillo Jr
Antonio Castillo Jr was looking to end a terrible run with a win over the 7-2 Dan Dubuque. Castillo has lost six out of his last seven bouts, while Nova Uniao team member Dubuque entered the bout on a three-fight winning streak.
Round 1: Both fighters come out firing big shots to open the round. Really good action. Dubuque snaps Castillo’s head back with a left hook. Castillo responds with a double leg takedown attempt and gets the fan favorite Dubuque down. He quickly springs to his feet and is able to get to the center.
Both guys are throwing heavy shots and landing, good action once again. When they settle down, they exchange snapping leg kicks. Castillo backs Dubuque up with a right hand. The New Englander responds with two hard leg kicks and then defends a takedown attempt from Castillo. But suddenly Castillo uses an arm drag takedown and briefly takes Dubuque down. Dubuque works to his feet and is slammed down once again. Third time up to his feet is the charm for Dubuque, who is able to break free but is clocked with a nice overhand right just before the round ends.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 Castillo.
Round 2: Dubuque hits Castillo with a hard leg kick and two hard straight hands in the opening minute of the middle round. Castillo charges his opponent and presses the Nova Uniao product against the fence briefly. After not getting the takedown, they break free.
Dubuque hits Castillo with a big overhand right that rocks Castillo. Dubuque goes in for the kill but is tagged with two hard shots from Castillo. Really good action once again.
Both fighters land big shots. Dubuque hits Castillo with a really clean three punch combination followed by two hard leg kicks. He is starting to find his range and timing. He opens up with another big combination but is taken down by Castillo. He works to his feet and is able to switch the position. He bodylocks Castillo against the cage and peppers his legs with some knees before they break and the round ends.
Really good action.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Dubuque
Round 3: They exchange hard leg kicks until Castillo briefly takes Dubuque down. He takes his back but struggles to get the hooks in allowing the New Englander to get to his feet.
Dubuque kicks the lead leg and then tags Castillo with a right hand. Dubuque opens up with a huge five strike combination. Castillo fires back with some hard shots of his own. This is a good fight.
Dubuque backs Castillo up with another big combination that sends the crowd into a frenzy. The Connecticut fighter shoots in on a takedown and is able to get Castillo down. Castillo wall walks up to his feet but can’t break away from Dubuque. He hits him with a few elbows and a knee to the head. The crowd is going nuts as the bell sounds.
The crowd is showing a lot of love to both warriors, who showed incredible heart.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 and the fight 29-28 for Dubuque
Official Results: Dan Dubuque beats Antonio Castillo Jr by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, and 30-27).
Hilarie Rose vs Rosa Acevedo
The only female fight of the evening pitted the ultra-popular Hilarie Rose vs. Nebraskian fighter, Rose Acevedo. The fight was originally slated for the prelims but due to a late fight cancellation, the fight got bumped to the main card.
Round 1: Rose opened the action with a teep kick to the gut of Acevedo followed by two jabs and a nicely timed double leg. She briefly gets the mount, but Acevedo bridges her over. In Rose’s closed guard, Acevedo looks for a leglock, which leaves an opening for Rose to get to her feet.
Rose clinches Acevedo against the cage and hit her with a few knees to the legs. She takes Acevedo down with a lateral drop. He lands a few punches before being swept to her back. Acevedo goes to work and gets swept herself.
The round comes to an end with Rose on top.
CageSide Press scores 10-9 for Rose.
Round 2: Rose opens the round with a front kick to the face. They exchange a little until Acevedo takes Rose down. Sitting in guard, Acevedo cuts Rose open with an elbow. She attempts to lands some more shots but is swept over. Rose takes her back and is looking for a submission. Acevedo gets to her feet with Rose backpacked on her. She throws herself back to the canvas and gets the New Englander off her.
They scramble and Acevedo gains the top position. The round comes to an end with Acevedo landing a few small punches.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Acevedo.
Round 3: Anybody’s fight heading into the last round.
Rose shoots a shot from very far away, and Acevedo sprawls out on her. She bulls Rose over to her back. They both sweep each other over twice, with Acevedo ultimately retaining the top position.
The action has greatly slowed down until Acevedo moves to mount and postures up. Rose is able to pull her back into her chest without getting hit with anything.
Not very much action at all.
With about 30 seconds left, Rose is able to get to her feet. She presses Acevedo against the cage and lands some knees to close the round.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 and the fight 29-28 for Acevedo.
Official Results: Hilarie Rose beats Rosa Acevedo by split decision (29-28, 29-28, and 28-29).
Tony Gravely vs Darren Mima for CES Featherweight Title
The brass of CES and UFC Fight Pass decided to kick off the main card with a bang by having the hot prospect, Tony Gravely defending his title against ACB, Cage Warriors and WSOF veteran, Darren Mima.
Gravely, who also holds the KOTC bantamweight title, entered the bout winning 9 out of last 10 scraps and appears to be on the cusp of a big league call up.
Round 1: Mima opens the round with an inside leg kick and stuffs a takedown attempt from Gravely. The former NCAA Division 1 wrestler reshoots the shot and lifts Mima into the air. He slams Mima to the canvas. He can’t hold Mima down for long. However, Gravely slams the veteran fighter down once again. Mima attempts a triangle choke but Gravely defends it by lifting him into the air and slamming him down once again. The slam allows Gravely to slip out of the submission.
In the guard, Gravely rains down a few punches. The New Yorker, Mima throws up an armbar attempt, but Gravely slams his way out of it once again. He closes the round out by sitting in Mima’s guard.
10-9 round for the Champion.
Round 2: Gravely shoots in immediately and bodylocks Mima. He presses the New Yorker against the cage but is surprisingly taken down himself. Gravely works to his feet and is grazed by a spinning back fist. Gravely shoots but is caught in a guillotine choke. The champion fights the submission and is able to pop his head out.
Sitting in Mima’s half guard, Gravely very slowly tries to work up the body. He briefly postures up and throws a few punches. He moves to side control but Mima gets half guard back. The New Yorker tries to roll for an ankle but he gives up his back. Gravely locks in a rear naked choke. Mima tries to fight the submission but eventually taps out with only seconds left on the clock.
Official Results: Tony Gravely retains his CES welterweight title by beating Darren Mima via second-round submission (rear naked choke).
Justin Valentin vs Jason Huntley
Undefeated prospect, Justin Valentin attempted to keep his record without blemish, while putting on a show in front of his hometown crowd when he squared off with Jason Huntley. Huntley, who hails from Minnesota, is likely coming to the end of his career as he is 40 years old.
Round 1: Huntley opens the action by landing a right hand. He backs Valentin up with another straight hand. Valentin responds with a check left hook but gets clinched against the fence. The younger fighter uses an inside trip to take Huntley down to the canvas. The Gopher state fighter looks for a guillotine but can’t find it. Valentin fires off some punches but Huntley is able to use the momentum to sweep Valentin to the canvas. The 40-year-old snatches up a head/arm triangle that looks tight. Valentin grimces in pain but is somehow able to pop free and work to his feet. Huntley drops down on a double leg and takes Valentin down. The round ends with a scramble while Huntley looks for a guillotine choke.
Nice round for the elder fighter. Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Huntley.
Round 2: Huntley hits Valentin with a kick to the midsection and then they both clinch. Huntley presses Valentin against the cage. He attempts a “lazy lateral drop” but can’t get Valentin to his back.
Back in the center, Huntley closes the distance and takes Valentin to the canvas. The Minnesota fighter lands a few elbows and a scramble ensues. In what looks like a Tom and Jerry cartoon scene, Valentin finds himself on top but briefly in a triangle. The hometown fighter fights his head out but only into Huntley’s closed guard.
The round ends with Valentin on top but not much happening. Very close round but Cageside Press leans towards Huntley 10-9.
Round 3: The two fighters circle the center until Huntley shoots in on a takedown and gets Valentin down. He quickly moves to mount. They scramble and Huntley gets Valentin’s back. He looks for the rear naked choke but Valentin defends it well. The elder fighter strikes the side of Valentin’s head a few times before looking for the choke again. Valentin keeps escaping the hold which excites the crowd but he is losing the round and possibly the fight. Valentin tripods up while Huntley hangs off his back, he is able to shake off his opponent right as the fight ends.
Big round for Huntley. Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 and the fight 30-27 for Huntley.
Official Results: Jason Huntley beats Justin Valentin by majority decision (30-26, 29-27, and 28-28).
Gil Pinheiro vs Tom Connolly
Gil Pinheiro and Tom Connolly both stepped into the cage Friday night hoping to pick up their first professional win. Connolly was making his professional debut, while Pinheiro failed to pick up a victory in his two previous bouts.
Round 1: Connolly comes out firing immediately. He throws a high kick that staggers Pinheiro. He follows it up with an uppercut that sends Pinheiro crashing to the canvas. He jumps on the hurt fighter and finishes him off with a few shots from the top until the referee pulled him off. The fight lasted only 19 seconds.
Official Results: Tom Connolly beats Gil Pinheiro by first-round TKO.
Carlos Rivera vs Mike Diorio
The curtain-jerker of the evening matched New Yorker, Mike Diorio, and the first Connecticut native to make the walk to the cage, Carlos Rivera.
Round 1: Rivera comes out in the south paw stance while Diorio stands orthodox. Diorio immediately gets to work firing off wild haymakers until Rivera is able to clinch up with him and grab a body lock. Rivera uses the position to trip Diorio to the canvas, which sends his hometown audience into a frenzy.
Rivera hits Diorio with a few hammerfists before moving to the mount. Diorio dodges a strike and causes a scramble. He briefly gains the top position, but Rivera works to his feet. They break away just as Rivera pops his foe with a left hand.
Back in the center, Rivera tags the New Yorker with a 1-2, which causes his opponent to start to swing back wildly. The Connecticut fighter ends the round by landing a few punches from range before the bell sounds.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Rivera.
Round 2: Diorio takes the center of the cage to start the round and begins to fire off a series of hooks at Rivera. He throws a naked leg kick and is blasted with a straight right hand for not setting it up. Rivera mixes up the action by shooting a double leg and taking Diorio to the ground.
Sitting in Diorio’s closed guard, the pace has really slowed down. Without anything happening, the referee stands them back on the feet. Diorio uses the standup to charge his foe and lands a few uppercuts. Rivera goes for a takedown once again but this time he finds himself on the bottom.
Surprisingly, Diorio lets Rivera up and they both exchange fisticuffs with neither getting the better of the exchanges. Diorio pushes Rivera against the cage as the round comes to an end.
Very close round but Cageside Press gives Rivera the nod once again, 10-9.
Round 3: Diorio swings wildly at Rivera to start the final round but can’t connect. He bullrushes Rivera to attempt to get the clinch but is pushed off. Rivera is on his bicycle this round, as he is continually backing up and circling.
Diorio attempts to throw a loaded uppercut, but Rivera beats him to the punch with two stiff jabs. The team Bombsquad product presses Rivera against the cage again but is hit with a knee up the pipe. Rivera is able to circle away and get to the center.
Both fighters are extremely tired as the fight is winding to an end. Diorio steps into the pocket and hits Rivera with two right uppercuts and they clinch against the cage. Rivera is able to push Diorio off of him before. As the bell sounds, Rivera is able to use a wrestling “slide by” takedown to get Diorio to the canvas.
Another very close round. This time Cageside Press scored it 10-9 for Diorio but the fight 29-28 for Rivera.
Official Results: Carlos Rivera beats Mike Diorio by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).