FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lewiston, Maine (April 27, 2017) – Not everybody in life gets blessed with a shot at redemption. Jonathan Lemke will bask in that opportunity on multiple fronts when he battles “The” Ryan Sanders for the vacant NEF lightweight title this Saturday, April 29 at Androscoggin Bank Colisee as part of “NEF 28: Invincible.”
It’s the second shot at the NEF strap for Lemke, who lost a split decision to Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington in February 2016 at “NEF 21: THE IMMORTALS.” Lemke also looks forward to the rematch with Sanders after their fight in November was abbreviated due to a gash on Lemke’s head.
“Definitely after the way the last one ended, I still feel like I have a little unfinished business, a little chip on my shoulder,” Lemke said recently in an interview on “The Maine Event” podcast with Ryan Jarrell and Bryan Stackpole. “I definitely want to go out there and take care of business this time.”
Sanders (13-8) won a unanimous decision when the verdict went to the scorecards by virtue of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
Like his opponent and former stablemate, Lemke (6-7) has carved out a reputation as a fighter who will take on all comers. The first bout with Sanders extended his winless streak to four fights, but the quality of opposition – Devin Powell, Josh LaBerge and Boyington preceded Sanders – are good for more than an asterisk.
He snapped that run in short order with a first-round TKO of Jesse “The Viking” Erickson in February’s tournament semifinals.
“I’m very excited, very grateful,” Lemke said. “This is the culmination of a lot of years, a lot of hard work, to be at this point again and see some of that pay off.”
Lemke doesn’t believe that he needs the title to validate his years under the NEF umbrella. On the flip side, however, it is a line on the personal checklist on which he is hungry to leave his mark.
“It would mean a lot,” he acknowledged. “It wouldn’t define me either way, but at the same time certainly one of the goals I set out to achieve when I first started this sport was to take care of business on the regional end and to be a regional champion.”
Previous champions Powell, Boyington and Dez Green made the lightweight belt NEF’s most coveted honor by using it as a springboard to opportunities on a national scale.
Lemke, who has enjoyed the spotlight as part of both a Bellator card and Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight” UFC audition, denied that he is looking ahead to greener pastures.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought about where it would take me,” he said. “I just think about getting that belt and defending that belt. It’s always one fight at a time.”
Between their days training together with Team Irish (Sanders now fights out of Young’s MMA) and their previous fight, Lemke and Sanders know one another as well as any NEF title fight opponents in history.
While Lemke allows for the possibility that both men will dip into their bag of tricks, he said fans shouldn’t expect too many surprises.
“I think stylistically it will be a little bit different. Game plan wise it will be a little bit different. At the start you might see some different wrinkles from both,” Lemke said “But at the end of the day we are both familiar with each other, so it will be a similar type fight.”
He also sees the confrontation living up to every ounce of its billing.
“One of the statements from the first card was that I believe this fight could headline any card, any regional or national promotion, and I still believe that,” Lemke said. “It’s a fight the fans want to see.”
And it’s a fight he naturally believes he will win the second time around.
“I’m healthy as can be. Had a good, tough camp, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and performing my business,” Lemke said. “I believe in my overall skill set and believe that overall skill set will lead to the victory.”
The opening bell for “NEF 28: Invincible” on April 29 is set for 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are available at www.TheColisee.com or by calling the Colisee box office at 207.783.2009, extension 525.