With Luis Felix forced to withdraw from his first official title defense due to injury, Ryan Sanders will step up to face a three-time Ultimate Fighting Championships veteran Friday at Twin River Casino.
Sanders (10-7, 1 KO), the Bangor, Maine, native who defeated Felix in March and was set to face the Providence, R.I., lightweight in a rematch June 10th, 2016 for Felix’s CES MMA Title, instead battles Long Island native Levan Makashvili (7-2-1, 5 KOs) in a three-round bout on the main card of “CES MMA 36” live on AXS TV Fight.
The Sanders-Makashvili fight joins a stacked lineup that also features the return of nine-time Bellator and three-time CES MMA vet Matt Bessette (18-7, 5 KOs) of Stafford Springs, Conn., rising East Providence, R.I., lightweight Nate Andrews (8-1, 5 KOs) and former Strikeforce and Bellator standout Josh LaBerge (10-5, 4 KOs) of Fall River, Mass.
Tickets for “CES MMA 36” are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club.
Sanders appears on AXS TV for the second time since March after beating Felix in a non-title bout as a last-minute replacement for Waylon Lowe when Felix suffered a knee injury in the second round and was forced to verbally tap. The rematch would’ve been for Felix’s title; instead, Sanders faces Makashvili, who last fought in January on UFC on Fox 18 against Damon Jackson, a fight ruled a draw after Makashvili was deducted a point in the third round for an illegal strike.
The January fight against Jackson was Makashvili’s third UFC appearance since May of 2015. He amassed a 6-1 record before signing with the promotion last February, but his debut was pushed back three months when his opponent withdrew due to illness.
Sanders, who fought on the Bellator 93 undercard in 2013, carries a three-fight win streak into Friday’s event, which includes a win over regional standout Lucas Cruz. Sanders’ resume also includes a win over 15-time UFC vet Marcus Davis.
Also on the main card, Bessette faces Brazilian Jairo Soares (17-10, 2 KOs) in a featherweight bout. Bessette has rebounded nicely since his knockout loss to Lenny Wheeler at “CES MMA 30,” finishing each of his last three opponents within the first two rounds, including a first-round submission win over Taurean Bogguess at “CES MMA 33” in March.
Andrews, meanwhile, looks to keep the momentum going following the most impressive win of his career at “CES MMA 33” in March, a dominant second-round knockout of former CES MMA champion and UFC vet Julian Lane on national TV. On Friday, Andrews faces Oklahoma’s Luis Muro (4-1, 1 KO), who looks to rebound from his first career loss less than a month ago.
Lane, meanwhile, is looking to start a new win streak at “CES MMA 36,” but will first have to get through Medford, Mass., lightweight Lewis Corapi (6-2, 3 KOs). The Ohio native Lane, who is now 10-5-1, recently snapped his three-fight losing streak in April with a submission win over Antonio Castillo Jr.
Corapi hasn’t fought in more than a year and has yet to avenge his March of 2015 loss to Jay Bakanowski; he was scheduled to face Providence’s Keenan Raymond at “CES MMA 35” in April until Raymond sustained an injury the day of the fight.
Rounding out the main card, Fall River, Mass., native Josh LaBerge (10-5, 4 KOs) makes his third appearance with CES MMA in a lightweight bout against Maine’s Jonathan Lemke (5-3, 4 KOs). LaBerge earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win over 40-fight vet Ran Weathers at “CES MMA 35,” just his third fight since 2011.
Highlighting the stacked preliminary card is the professional debut of Providence bantamweight Marquise Brewster and the return of undefeated New Britain, Conn., flyweight Carlos Candelario (3-0, 1 KO).
Brewster, who earned a promotional contract with CES MMA following a victory in his final amateur bout on the undercard of “CES MMA 35” last month in Beverly, Mass., faces Vladimir Kazbekov (0-1) of Welland, Ontario, while Candelario, fresh off his thrilling 31-second knockout win over Luay Ashkar at “CES MMA 34” in April, battles Turtle Creek, Pa., native Roosevelt Archie (0-1).
Also on the preliminary card, featherweight James Grant Murrin (3-4, 2 KOs) looks to snap his two-fight losing streak when he takes on Long Island native and two-time CES MMA vet Thomas English (5-6, 2 KO), who last appeared at Twin River in January of 2015 against current UFC featherweight Kyle Bochniak; and heavyweights Dan Randall of Granby, Mass., and Marquis Allen of Mansfield, Ohio, make their professional debuts against one another in a three-round bout.
Dedham, Mass., featherweight Matt Tullos (1-0) faces Merab Dvalishvilli (2-2, 1 KO) of Long Island; Mashpee, Mass., welterweight Bobby Flynn (5-3, 1 KO) battles Queens native Kevin Horowitz (6-5); and Providence’s Kurtis Parisi makes his pro debut against 15-fight vet Hector Sanchez of Woonsocket, R.I., in a middleweight bout.
Flynn returns to the cage for the first time since August while Tullos makes his second appearance with CES MMA after winning his pro debut against Shan Bachok in March.
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