Andre Ewell came through on his promise Friday to silence the crowd at Twin River Casino and returned to California a world champion.
The Riverside native stunned the crowd in the main event of “CES MMA 50,” submitting fan-favorite Dinis Paiva (11-7) 36 seconds into the third round of their scheduled five-round bout to capture the vacant CES MMA World Bantamweight Title on AXS TV.
Paiva looked sharp as ever through the first two rounds, peppering Ewell (13-4) with overhand rights and scoring a key takedown in the second, nearly locking in a rear-naked choke in the process. Paiva paid the price for his early aggression, sustaining a nasty cut over his left eye in the second round that left him bloodied as he retreated to the corner between rounds.
That’s when the tide turned in Ewell’s favor. With two solid rounds under his belt, Paiva shot for a takedown to open the third. Ewell stuffed it brilliantly, locked in the choke against the cage and submitted Paiva within seconds to silence the home crowd and capture the title.
Ewell, fighting on the east coast for the first time, has now won four consecutive bouts while Paiva suffered his first defeat since 2015.
Welterweights Jon Manley (11-5) of Ludlow, Mass., and Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells (5-1) staged an epic battle in Friday’s co-feature with Wells earning his second consecutive victory with CES MMA, defeating the former UFC vet by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-26, 29-28.
Fresh of his stunning knockout win over Gary Balletto Jr. at “CES MMA 49,” Wells again came out firing against the taller, rangy Manley, landing punishing blows in the opening round that left Manley a bloody mess at the end of the first three minutes.
Showing off his sturdy chin, Manley absorbed more punishment in the second before finally getting to the fight to the ground, where he briefly controlled the pace, only to have Wells break out of a rear-naked choke attempt in the closing minutes.
Manley needed a miracle in the third to pull out the win, but instead ate a stiff left jab early in the round that sent him to the canvas again. Wells stayed out of harm’s way for the remainder of the fight to win the round and earn the victory on the scorecards.
In a rematch of their bout at “CES MMA 47” in November, Woonsocket flyweight Jose Lugo (3-0) dominated Cortland, N.Y., vet Michael Taylor (1-2) for the second time, again earning the win by rear-naked choke, this time in the second round at the 1:31 mark.
Lugo softened Taylor in the opening round with repeated elbows, but Taylor somehow survived three submission attempts in the closing minute before Lugo finally finished the fight in the second. Taylor took the fight on short notice when his original opponent, Josh Ricci, broke his foot in camp.
Red-hot middleweight Reginaldo Felix (5-2, 4 KOs) won his fifth consecutive fight on Friday’s main card and his fourth by knockout, punishing Pat McCrohan (3-2) of Berkley, Mass., before referee Bryan Miner mercifully stopped the bout at the 4:42 mark of the second round.
Felix found his rhythm in the closing minutes of the round, clipping McCrohan with lefts and rights as his opponent tried desperately to regain his composure. Felix stayed patient as McCrohan stumbled across the cage and landed one last left to the jaw, prompting Miner to wave it off.
Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (5-2, 2 KOs) brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling, first-round knockout win over New York’s Alfred Jones (3-4) courtesy of a clean, three-punch combination 1:58 into the opening round.
Moutinho found an opening in Jones’ defense with a hard right hook to jaw followed by a straight left and another right that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. The win snapped Moutinho’s two-fight losing streak.
Making his CES MMA debut all the way from Las Vegas, bantamweight Adam Acquaviva (7-3, 2 KOs) outclassed Providence’s John Douma (3-1), finishing the fight by knockout at the 2:47 mark of the third round.
Douma entered with two knockout wins on his resume, but Acquaviva had no trouble standing toe-to-toe with the previously-unbeaten righthander and eventually earned the finish in the third when he gained side mount and pulverized Douma with elbows to the forehead, forcing referee Kevin MacDonald to stop the fight.
In the opening bout of the televised main card, light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (2-0) of Wrentham, Mass., ended a stalemate in the opening round with a guillotine submission win over Marquis Allen (1-2) at the 3:55 mark.
Allen scored a one-punch knockout in his first and only appearance with CES MMA in 2016, but had no such luck against Cherant, who pressed the action and didn’t allow Allen to gain enough separation to throw his right hand. Cherant eventually locked in the guillotine to force the submission, his second win of 2018 after notching a victory via submission in his pro debut at “CES MMA 48.”
Also on the preliminary card, featherweight Brendan Marotte (2-0, 2 KOs) of Hampstead, N.H., earned his second consecutive first-round knockout win, this time stopping pro debut Arslan Otchiyev (0-1) of West Haven, Conn., with just 13 seconds remaining in round.
Marotte was simply too strong for Otchiyev and frequently got the better of their exchanges. It appeared Otchiyev wasn’t going to make it too far past the opening bell, but withstood a few early flurries in the first few minutes, only to get caught with a knee to the face that all but ended the fight and forced Miner to stop the action at the 4:47 mark.
Searching for her first career victory following a loss in her debut, Norfolk, Mass., flyweight Hilarie Rose (1-1) dominated Miami’s Thaias Sousa (0-3), earning the win via guillotine submission at 2:16 of the opening round.
Rose set the tone from the opening bell, first exchanging blows with Rose in the center of the cage. Later in the round, she scored a crucial takedown with a well-executed hip toss, then proceeded to lock in the choke, which immediately forced Sousa to tap.
Fall River, Mass., light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (2-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten in the preliminary opener and scored his second career knockout at the 2:20 mark of the third round against veteran David White (0-3) from Cumberland, Md.
White controlled the action in the first two rounds, smothering White with his superior ground game, and almost locked in a guillotine choke in the third before finishing his opponent with a series of unanswered strikes. White also earned a knockout victory in his professional debut at “CES MMA 47,” stopping James Dysard in just 39 seconds.
Milford, Mass., welterweight Toby Oden (3-2) closed the preliminary card with his first win since 2015, beating pro debut Jeremy Puglia (0-1) of Long Island by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.