After finishing with a perfect 4-0 record in 2016, reigning CES MMA Featherweight World Champion Matt Bessette is ready to kick off a new year with a new challenge.
The Stafford, Conn., native returns to the cage for CES MMA’s 2017 season opener at Twin River Casino on Friday, Jan. 27th, 2017 in the five-round main event of “CES MMA 41,” where he puts his title on the line against Missouri native Kevin Croom, nicknamed “The Hard-Hitting Hillbilly.”
The Bessette-Croom main event headlines the televised portion of AXS TV’s AXS TV Fights, which begins at 9 p.m. ET with seven action-packed bouts, preceded by an exciting six-fight preliminary card, all of which begins at 7.
Tickets for “CES MMA 41” are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Bessette (20-7, 5 KOs) won all four of his fights in 2016, including a thrilling submission victory over Joe Pingitore for the then-vacant featherweight title at “CES MMA 37” in August in which he picked himself up off the canvas twice before finishing Pingitore with a heel hook in the second round.
The “CES MMA 41” main card also features a flyweight bout between undefeated New Britain, Conn., vet Carlos Candelario (4-0, 1 KO) and fellow unbeaten Miguel Restrepo (4-0, 2 KOs) of Queens, N.Y., plus a bantamweight battle between Kody Nordby (7-4) of Woonsocket, R.I., and Illinois vet David Garcia (4-1, 2 KOs).
Nordby looks to continue his climb back to the top of the division following his loss to Andre Soukhamthath against the dangerous Garcia, who recently handed Rico DiSciullo his first career loss in September via submission at “CES MMA 38.” Candelario makes his fourth appearance with CES MMA and first since “CES MMA 36” in June when submitted Roosevelt Archie via guillotine in the opening round of a scheduled three-round bout.
The main card also features two heavyweight bouts as Hyannis, Mass., native Juliano Coutinho (7-3, 3 KOs) faces two-time CES MMA vet Keith Bell (6-8, 4 KOs) of Newport News, Va., and Pat Walsh (8-2, 3 KOs) of Stoughton, Mass., battles New Hampshire’s Kevin Haley (6-3, 2 KOs).
Bell most recently faced Greg Rebello on AXS TV in March while Coutinho makes his third appearance with CES MMA after facing Justin Willis at World Series of Fighting 31 in July. Coutinho’s last appearance with CES MMA also came in March on the main card of “CES MMA 33” when he won narrow split decision over Chaz Morgan.
Haley and Walsh, fighting at a 215-pound catch weight, each carry impressive win streaks into the main card bout at “CES MMA 41.” Haley has won his last three, including a televised submission win over Mike Rodriguez at “CES MMA 39” in Plymouth, while Walsh is also riding a three-fight win streak that includes a knockout win over Carlos Zevallos at “CES MMA 38.”
Fresh off his comeback win at “CES MMA 40” in November, East Providence, R.I., bantamweight Dinis Paiva (8-6, 5 KOs) faces Findlay, Ohio, vet Jordan Espinosa (8-4, 1 KO). Paiva ended a 13-month layoff in his last bout with a first-round knockout win over Zane Behrend and returns to the network television stage for the first time since his loss to Nordby in October of 2015.
Espinosa last appeared with CES MMA in 2014, but has since won five of his last six, including a victory over Rafael de Freitas at Legacy Fighting Championships 36.
Providence, R.I., heavyweight Greg Rebello (20-7, 12 KOs) also returns to the AXS TV stage at “CES MMA 41” in a separate three-round bout. Rebello recently suffered his first loss in five fights when he battles Ashley Gooch at “CES MMA 37” in August for the then-vacant CES MMA Heavyweight World Title.
The six-fight preliminary card includes a female flyweight bout between Bourne, Mass., native Sarah Click (1-1) and newcomer Maria Rivera of Framingham, Mass., plus a bantamweight bout between unbeaten Kris Moutinho (2-0) of Milford, Mass., and Fredericktown, Ohio, native Jason Rine (0-1). Fellow Ohio native Raymond Yanez (4-8, 1 KO) of Columbus battles Milford’s Richie Santiago (2-0) and lightweight Connor Barry (2-0) of Stoughton faces New Jersey’s Travis Foster (0-2).
In the flyweight division, David Baxter (3-1, 1 KO) of Bellingham, Mass., battles Pawtucket, R.I., vet Dan Cormier (4-6, 1 KO) and Rodriguez returns in a separate three-round bout following his loss to Haley.