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Felix, Johnston victorious at CES MMA XXII

LINCOLN, R.I. (March 14th, 2014) – Nobody saw the kick coming. Especially Drew Fickett.

Facing the toughest test of his career, Providence’s Luis Felix delivered what might be the Knockout of the Year Friday, knocking Fickett unconscious with a rear leg kick to the neck in the opening round of their main event bout at “CES MMA XXII” at Twin River Casino.

The 34-year-old Fickett (42-21) entered Friday’s main event with 62 fights under his belt, including seven with the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), but Felix (11-7, 4 KOs) has a knack for rising to the occasion and he did so again Friday with his sixth win in seven fights and his third against a former UFC vet.

The end came rather unexpectedly at the 2-minute, 29-second mark of the opening round. With the two lightweights standing toe-to-toe, Felix feigned a left hook and as Fickett momentarily dropped his right hand, Felix unloaded with a left kick that struck Fickett just below the right ear. Fickett crashed to the canvas and referee Kevin MacDonald immediately stopped the bout.

Since a loss to Joe DeChaves in 2010, Felix has beaten UFC vets Joe Proctor and Marc Stevens and regional prospect Lucas Cruz. Friday’s win over Fickett was the biggest of his career, another example of Felix fighting his best on the sport’s biggest stage.

In the co-feature, Reading, Mass., veteran John Johnston (6-0, 6 KOs) kept his perfect record intact and captured the vacant CES MMA heavyweight title with a first-round TKO win over former UFC vet Josh Hendricks (19-10) in a scheduled five-round bout.

Johnston appeared to be in trouble early when Hendricks opened up a nasty cut under his left eye, but Johnston persevered and continued to press despite Hendricks’ dominance on the ground. Midway through the round, Hendricks attempted an armbar, but Johnston rose from the mat and reversed the hold to pass half guard. From there, he unloaded with a series and right and lefts while his own blooded dripped onto Hendricks’ face. Referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the bout at the 4:36 mark, awarding Johnston his second victory of the year.

East Bridgewater, Mass., welterweight Chuck O’Neil (13-6) won his second consecutive bout, defeating the tough Roger Carroll (13-11) of Conover, N.C., by unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27, and Plymouth, Mass., middleweight Chip Moraza-Pollard (8-6), moving up from 170 pounds, earned a critical win by beating former UFC vet Tom Egan (7-5) unanimously, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.

Lightweight Andres Jeudi (6-2) of Brockton, Mass., snapped a two-fight losing streak with a decisive 30-27 win on all three scorecards against Brendan Rooney (5-2) of Milford, Conn., while Marshfield, Mass., bantamweight Brendan Fleming earned a hard-fought win over Baltimore’s Robert Sullivan (3-1) by identical scores of 29-28.

Rivaling Felix’s tremendous stoppage, featherweight Charles Rosa (7-0) remained unbeaten Friday, overcoming a separated right shoulder to submit eight-time Bellator veteran Brylan Van Artsdalen (9-10) by armbar at the 3:25 mark of the opening round. Van Artsdalen dominated the first half of the round with two big takedowns, but Rosa, fighting through the pain, finally locked in the belly-down armbar on his third attempt to finish the fight.

In his first fight in more than three years, Fall River, Mass., featherweight Josh LaBerge (9-4, 4 KOs) made quick work of Philadelphia’s Steve McCabe (6-15), scoring the knockout win 37 seconds into the opening round courtesy of a series of knees to the chin. Winthrop, Mass., featherweight Kyle Bochniak (2-0, 1 KO) won his second pro fight, stopping Philadelphia’s Marius Enache (1-3) at the 1:14 mark of the second round due to a series of unanswered strikes. The onslaught began with a right cross on the chin that sent Enache to the canvas and Bochniak followed with a quick flurry of rights and lefts that forced MacDonald to stop the bout.

Tommy Venticinque (1-1) of West Warwick, R.I., bounced back from a loss in his pro debut and submitted newcomer Rick Rivera (0-1) of Springfield, Mass., at the 3:43 mark of the opening round via rear-naked choke.