The submission specialist never found his groove, and “Doomsday” coasted to another victory in his long-awaited return to CES MMA.
Boston native and 14-time Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) veteran John Howard (25-13) Claremont Roger Carroll (16-15) of Claremont on all three scorecards, 30-27, 30-26, 30-27 Friday in the main event of “CES MMA 46” from Twin River Casino on AXS TV, his first win since last June and his first with CES MMA since 2013.
“Doomsday” breezed through the CES MMA circuit from 2012 to 2013 to earn a second stint with the UFC, which lasted seven fights before he returned to New England’s No. 1 promotion Friday to face the dangerous Carroll, who had submitted 15 opponents entering the weekend.
Howard came out aggressive, landing three- and four-punch combos to stop Carroll dead in his tracks, and even turned the tables on the notorious submission specialist with a pair of takedowns in the opening round. Howard stuffed Carroll’s attempt at a single-leg takedown in the second and continued to wear him down with effective ground-and-pound, which carried over for the final two rounds en route to an easy win for “Doomsday.”
Howard, the promotion’s first world champion back in 2012, remained unbeaten with CES MMA in six tries.
Stealing the spotlight in what might’ve been the fight of the year, never mind the fight of the night, welterweight Gary Balletto Jr. (5-1) of Cranston, R.I., aced the toughest test of his young career, submitting the dangerous Sharif Jones (3-3) of Philadelphia via rear naked choke at 3:17 of the third and final round.
Balletto Jr. nearly finished the fight with a knee bar in the closing seconds of the opening round, but the clock ran out, allowing Jones a reprieve. The Philly vet struck back in the second, peppering Balletto Jr. for the majority of the round. He continued the pace in the third until Balletto Jr. caught him with a knee to the face during a clinch against the cage. With Jones reeling, Balletto Jr. continued to punish Jones with knees before he sunk to the canvas, allowing Balletto Jr. to lock in the choke and earn the submission.
Balletto Jr. has now won five in a row since losing his pro debut, including all three bouts in 2017.
The most electrifying knockout of the night belonged to the red-hot Dinis Paiva (10-6, 6 KOs) of East Providence, R.I., who stopped the game Brandon Seyler (7-6-1) of Erie, Pa., at 3:08 of the second round with a strong, overhand left in his 16th career fight with CES MMA.
Paiva, who is campaigning for a world-title shot in the bantamweight division, dropped Seyler twice in the second round with the left hand before Seyler went down for good with one more left down the pipe, prompting referee John English to stop the fight. Paiva has now won three in a row since losing to Kody Nordby at “CES MMA 31.”
Brewer, Maine lightweight Jonathan Lemke (7-8) earned his second victory of 2017 and enacted a bit of revenge with an upset win over Fall River, Mass., native Josh LaBerge (11-7), earning a 29-28 decision on all three scorecards in a rematch of their 2016 bout at CES MMA 36.
Lemke controlled the pace early with effective leg kicks to keep LaBerge at bay and maintained the edge with intuitive counterpunching, unafraid to exchange blows with LaBerge in the center of the cage. After a feeling-out process for both fighters in the opening round, the final 10 minutes turned into a brawl with Lemke and LaBerge trading leather at will.
The win for Lemke was his second in eight months, which in includes a victory in Maine in February, while LaBerge has dropped his last two. LaBerge earned the win over Lemke via second-round knockout when the two fought in June of 2016 at Twin River.
Middleweight Justin Sumter (5-1) of Springfield, Mass., won his fifth consecutive fight, submitting veteran Shedrick Goodridge (6-10) of Rahway, N.J., via rear naked choke at the 1:56 mark of the opening round to kick off the AXS TV main card. Sumter has now won all three of his bouts under the CES MMA banner IN 2017, including a unanimous decision win over Brian Sparrow at CES MMA 44 in May.
Securing his second win in a row, Peabody, Mass., bantamweight Rico DiSciullo (8-1) made quick work of Saint Peters, Mo., native Seth Bassler (3-6) with a Peruvian necktie submission at 2:59 of the opening round. DiSciullo caught Bassler with a 1-2 combination and quickly sunk in the choke when his opponent lowered his head.
Making his professional debut Friday in front of a raucous, pro-Gotti crowd, welterweight John Gotti III stole the show on the preliminary card. Gotti III (1-0) forced his opponent, Vermont native Johnny Adams (0-2), to verbally tap due to excessive strikes at the 3:50 mark of the opening round of their scheduled three-round welterweight bout.
The Oyster Bay, N.Y., native scored an early takedown and eventually cracked Adams’ defense, landing a series of right hands from the full mount position late in the round that left Adams bloodied and bruised before he tapped with just over a minute remaining in the round.
Also on the preliminary card, rising featherweight prospect Marquis Brewster (4-0, 1 KO) of Providence, R.I., kept his perfect record intact and scored his first career knockout victory, stopping 16-fight vet Raymond Yanez (4-12) with excessive strikes at the 2:17 mark of the opening round.
Since debuting 16 months ago in June of 2016, Brewster has won all four of his bouts, including two by submissions and a unanimous-decision win over Cody Hier at “CES MMA 42.”
Syracuse, N.Y., bantamweight Michael Taylor (1-0, 1 KO) scored a knockout in his professional debut on the preliminary card, stopping fellow debut Jessie Pires (0-1) of Fall River, Mass., with a pair of devastating elbows at the 2:43 mark of the opening round.
Taylor worked his jab early in the fight, catching Pires twice before body-slamming to the canvas. From there, Taylor maintained side control before gaining full mount midway through the round, where he landed back-to-back elbows to the forehead, the second one opening a gash not only over Pires’ right eye, but on Taylor’s left elbow. English immediately stopped the fight, awarding Taylor the victory in his Twin River and Rhode Island debut.
Berkley, Mass., middleweight Pat McCrohan (3-1, 2 KOs) smothered Brunswick, Maine, native Buck Pineau (1-4) in a rematch of their “CES MMA 31” showdown, stopping him at 4:56 of the opening round due to strikes. McCrohan controlled the match from the opening bell, took Pineau’s back and began peppering him with rights and lefts from every angle before finally landing a series of unanswered rights to the temple. Pineau nearly survived the round, but referee Kevin MacDonald mercifully pulled the plug with 4 seconds remaining.
McCrohan, making his fourth appearance with CES MMA, bounced back from his submission loss to Ruslan Melikov at “CES MMA 37.” McCrohan and Pineau also fought in 2015 with McCrohan winning by knockout 58 seconds into the opening round.