PROVIDENCE, R.I. (June 25th, 2014) — If you were taken aback when you first heard Dinis Paiva was fighting for the 10th time under the guidance of CES MMA Friday night at Twin River Casino, you weren’t alone. Even Paiva himself can’t believe it.
“It’s been a phenomenal three years since I made my pro debut and it’s gone by just as fast as I can remember my first fight ending – a minute and 16 seconds with a TKO,” said Paiva, who’ll face Joe Cushman Friday night on the undercard of “CES MMA XXIV” at Twin River. “That’s how it’s felt these past three years.”
Tickets for “CES MMA XXIV” are on sale now at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Time certainly flies, as the old adage says, but time’s also stood still now and then for Paiva (4-5, 2 KOs), who’s admittedly had his share of ups and downs in mixed martial arts.
After winning his aforementioned pro debut in June of 2011, Paiva went on to lose his next three fights, including a discouraging disqualification loss to Clifford Moulton, a fight Paiva dominated until he inadvertently kneed his opponent to the head while Moulton still had a hand on the canvas.
Paiva then closed out 2012 with back-to-back wins against Josh Lange and Gilvan Santos to even his record before losing the next two to Kin Moy and Robert Sullivan. With only three wins and five losses, the East Providence, R.I., native made the toughest choice of his career, leaving lifelong trainer Mat Santos to work with Mike Gresh and his team at the Cape Cod Fighting Alliance.
“Behind closed doors, the people who had seen me fight knew it was in my best interest,” Paiva said. “My manager Keith [Allen], who has been with me my entire career since I was an amateur, was the first guy to propel me to go work with these other guys.
“No matter who you are, even if you’re the greatest champion in the world, you can always continue to learn and always continue to progress without forgetting your roots. I never will.”
With a new approach physically and mentally, “Sweetbread” opened 2014 with an impressive knockout win over Franklin Isabel and is now stepping in the cage against the savvy Bridgewater, Mass., veteran Cushman (11-5, 3 KOs), a fight that could help Paiva achieve his goal of becoming a Top 5 fighter in the featherweight division.
“[Cushman] is ranked No. 5 in the northeast, so this would be an upset in some peoples’ eyes,” Paiva said. “There are even some people who think I’m the big dog coming in. I consider myself the underdog. I like that. It takes the pressure off me. I’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
The mental approach is half the battle for Paiva, who never takes a shortcut with his conditioning or physical preparation. He was so dedicated during this camp that he even declined to have a piece of cake on his birthday on May 26th despite the fact it was a month before Thursday’s weigh-in.
“A lot of people would’ve looked past it and said, ‘What’s the big deal?’ but a lot gets put into this,” Paiva said. “I’ve been going balls to the wall for weeks.”
Not only is Paiva certain he’s a better fighter now than he was three years ago – or, for that matter, in January – he’s convinced he’s a much better fighter than his record indicates, a byproduct of the elite competition in the northeast.
“To be honest, I kind of like having the record I have considering where I’m trying to get,” he said. “People who know the sport and have been around it for a while and have watched my career know I’m not a 4-5 fighter. The guys with the losing records are the hungriest. They’re the ones you should fear the most.
“I’ve progressed a lot,” Paiva continued. “I’ve evolved and changed a lot as a fighter, especially during this last camp, and it’ll show in this next fight. I think Joe is expecting to see the old ‘Sweetbread.’ With what shows in videos and what he’s expecting, he’s going to be caught off guard. I’m nowhere near where I used to be.”
Three years and nine fights later, the secret to Paiva’s unabashed confidence is perspective.
“The thing is I never really lost big, or at least I feel that way. I feel like I haven’t had anyone really come in and knock my head off my shoulders, so to speak,” he said.
With a major milestone on deck, and perhaps more in the future, Paiva controls his own destiny, and the road to featherweight supremacy begins Friday at Twin River.
“I’ve overcome a lot of adversity,” he said. “Every fight is different. It’s always a 50-50 chance no matter who you are. Guys get caught. Things happen.
“This division is one of the deepest in the northeast. I feel I’m neck and neck with the best competition. It’s all about evolving and maturing in the cage, and I’m doing that as my career progresses. I’m more professional about it. I’m a lot more headstrong and profound. It’s the way things need to be now.”
The main event of “CES MMA XXIV” features Providence lightweight Luis Felix (11-7, 4 KOs) facing Julian Lane (6-3-1, 1 KO) for the vacant CES MMA title in a five-round bout.
UFC vet Ricardo Funch (8-4, 4 KOs) of Ludlow, Mass., will make his CES MMA debut on the undercard when he faces welterweight Brett Oteri (12-5, 1 KO) of Dedham, Mass.
Also on the card, Providence heavyweight Greg Rebello (17-5, 9 KOs) will take on Kennesaw, Ga., native Aaron Johnson (12-8, 1 KO); lightweight Andres Jeudi (6-2, 2 KOs) of Dorchester, Mass., battles Framingham, Mass., vet Saul Almeida (15-5); and female flyweight sensation Kaline Medeiros (2-3, 1 KO) of Fall River, Mass., faces Brigitte Narcise of Fairfield, N.J., in Narcise’s pro debut.
Fan-favorite Willie Brown (2-0) of Meriden, Conn., returns to battle J.A. Dudley (6-11) of Plainfield, N.J., in a light heavyweight bout; Providence’s Keenan Raymond (1-0) puts his record on the line against Dorchester featherweight James Murrin (1-0); featherweight Pete Rogers Jr. (1-1, 1 KO) of Norwich, Conn., faces Mike Lamm (0-1) of Newton, Mass.; and Providence vet Joe Reverdes (1-3) returns to battle newcomer Randy Campbell of Elizabeth, N.J., in a bantamweight bout.