FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Portland, Maine (October 1, 2018) – Carl Langston was admittedly late to the mixed-martial-arts party, so five years and 16 bouts worth of amateur experience in the New England Fights cage didn’t feel like that much time.

“I didn’t even know what MMA looked like. I had no clue what it was until after I graduated high school,” Langston said. “Right around 2007 or 2008, I was at one of my friends’ houses. UFC was on and I’m like, ‘Dude, what the hell is that?’ I’m thinking this is the real deal, you know? After that I started watching it and thought to myself, I want to try that. I want to see if I can get in there and do that.”

Langston, 29, has tried to soak up the sport like a sponge ever since. He will climb into the professional hexagon for the second time Saturday, November 17, on his home turf in Portland, when he takes on fellow local combatant Zenon Herrera in a bout at “NEF 36: Battle for the Gold.”

Opening bell time for the card at Aura is 7 p.m. It’s a return to the scene of Langston’s bantamweight pro debut in April, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Ernesto Ornelas.

The 135-pound bantamweight limit is a class below where he tackled most of his amateur activity, and a cut of more than 25 pounds from Langston’s walking-around weight.

“My rehydration was kind of crazy. I don’t think I re-hydrated enough, but I got in there. I immediately asked for a rematch,” Langston said. “I didn’t feel good in the cage. I didn’t feel like myself. I watched the video and didn’t feel like I was aggressive enough. It kind of got to me mentally that in my pro debut I took a loss, but in a way it motivated me to train harder.”

All-out training and the discipline it requires are nothing new for Langston, who started competing in the sport of taekwondo at age 6.

He was a quick study, advancing to the Junior Olympic level, where he won a silver medal in 1999 and backed it up with gold in 2000.

“I just continued to do it throughout my life, then kind of went away from it for maybe five, six years, but I always had that fire for competition,” Langston said.

After his initial exposure and expressed interest in MMA, a friend connected him with Balanced Ground, a gym in Windham. His initial fight was a unanimous decision loss to Mike Peiterson of Young’s MMA at “NEF 11” in November 2013.

Langston later lost to another Young’s fighter, Fred Lear, and split a pair of intense battles with Sheldon Bang that went the distance.

“It was really cool to get that amateur experience. The five years I’ve been in MMA to me is a very short period of time, but those 16 fights matter to me whether I won or lost them,” Langston said. “I fought very aggressive people. I’ve fought people that want to stand and bang. I’ve also fought people that just want to hold me against the cage. Really good grapplers. Really good wrestlers. Now that I’m in there and training at the pro level, the fear is gone. It’s just getting in there and doing my own thing, but I don’t think I would be able to do that without that many fights.”

His career was at a crossroads when the gym near his home closed its doors. Langston’s prior interaction with Young’s paid dividends when the highly respected Bangor stable invited him to join its ranks.

That switch led to more success in the cage: Langston won three of his final four amateur fights before making the jump against Ornelas.

“I always had high respect for them even before I was lined up to fight their guys, because if you watch anybody coming out of that gym, they always brought the fight,” Langston said. “When they asked me to join their gym, it was a privilege for me. It was a blessing in disguise, because the ground game that I have now, it’s all from them. Coach (Chris) Young was like, ‘We’re going to give you a chance to at least get off the ground. We’re going to change this.’ He’s given me a tremendous amount of time working on my ground game.”

The hardest part of Langston’s transition from one specific martial arts discipline to the broader realm of MMA has been the less immediate gratification.

“With taekwondo, you compete probably, depending on how big the tournament is, a minimum of four of five times just to get to the gold medal round. That’s in one night,” he said. “You’re training just as hard as you would in MMA as far as conditioning. In MMA, you train really hard for 15 minutes, and then you don’t fight again for two or three months. You do all this training, and the next day whether you win or lose, you’re ready to go again.”

That issue was magnified after the loss to Ornelas, whose camp consented to his request for a rematch in June.

Unfortunately for Langston, he was unable to make the weight, and the encore was canceled for now.

“It sucked, because I really wanted it, and I still want it. Even after that, backstage at the fight, his coach said we’ll give you a rematch. I told him whether it’s 135 or 140, I’ll make weight, and let’s do it,” Langston said. “I’m looking to finish Herrera faster than he did, maybe get one more win for me and him, then set the fight up for some time next year.”

Herrera has gone 1-7 but shown vast improvement in the cage while campaigning as an independent pro against some of NEF’s best: Jesse Erickson, Matt Denning, C.J. Ewer, Josh Harvey and John Raio. He picked up his first win earlier this year and took Ornelas to the third round before succumbing to a guillotine choke.

“I’m looking to finish him. He’s a good guy, but the talent level is just way different. There’s not even a comparison. No disrespect to him, but the guys I train with and the gym I come out of, and who I am, there’s not a comparison,” Langston said. “I’m looking to finish him in the first round. Just bring a high-intensity fight and push his cardio. If he can even survive the first round, when he comes out for the second round he’s going to be gassed.”

NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 36: Battle for the Gold,” will see the company make its return to Aura in Portland, Maine.  The event is scheduled to take place Saturday, November 17, 2018 with a bell time of 7 pm.  Tickets are on sale now at www.AuraMaine.com.

About New England Fights

New England Fights (“NEF”) is a fight events promotions company. NEF’s mission is to create the highest quality events for fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.