FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bangor, Maine (July 28, 2016) – The dedicated delegation from Young’s MMA of Bangor usually relish their reputation as road warriors in New England Fights.
Lewiston is long established as the hub city for the organization, drawing competitors and spectators from both directions on the Maine Turnpike. Fighters and fans from the Penobscot River valley find that staying engaged for those fight cards four or five times a year requires greater commitment than most.
For only the second time in its history, the regional promotion will bring its cage to the Queen City. “NEF Presents: Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight” is slated for Friday, August 5 at Cross Insurance Center.
Young’s, the gym located just a few blocks away at 127 Hammond Street, will celebrate by showcasing one of its fighters in four of the eight scheduled professional bouts. Battle-tested Ryan Sanders and relative newcomers Aaron Lacey, Josh Harvey and CJ Ewer all are poised to take their best shot with the support of a raucous, partisan crowd.
“That’s the most exciting part for me, being from Brewer. I went to Brewer High School,” Lacey said. “It was definitely a huge, huge draw for me, seeing it in person. I went to the fights when NEF came to Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion (July 12, 2013) and all I could think is, ‘Man, I want to do this.’ This has been a goal of mine for a long time.”
Sanders (10-7) will battle Derrick Kennington (11-7) in a clash of wily lightweights that will be on the featured attractions on the docket.
His three stablemates each emerged victorious in their only previous pro bout. Lacey will lock up with John Santos (3-3) of Derry, N.H., in a featherweight fight. Harvey has an appointment at featherweight. Ewer, who won an amateur bout at the outdoor concert venue in Bangor, will be tested by Ruben Redman (0-1) in a welterweight scrap.
Even with numerous friends in attendance, the four men know it is the presence of UFC president White, who grew up in nearby Hermon, which could have career-changing ramifications.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s awesome to know that someone like that is going to be in the building on fight night,” Sanders said. “But for me it’s just another fight. I don’t want to get caught up in all that. Just let it unfold.”
White and cohorts Din Thomas and Matt Serra travel the country in pursuit of undiscovered MMA talent in a reality show that is broadcast on White’s YouTube page as well as the UFC Fight Pass subscription-based streamed video service.
Yes, the entrepreneur’s Maine connections are well-documented. White also previously brought UFC Fight Night 47 to Bangor. Young’s talent pool suspects that the latest event is more than just a case of White throwing a bone to his home base, however.
“I’m grateful that he’s bringing it here. I’m sure he’s watched film from NEF in his spare time. He must see something in NEF that he likes in order to be doing this,” Harvey said. “It doesn’t make me more nervous. I’m excited for it. I’m going to try to put that all aside and focus on the task at hand.”
Under the tutelage of co-owners Chris Young and Ernie Fitch, roughly five or six professionals and a dozen amateurs cycle through the gym in any given training camp.
“Four of us fighting, it just shows we’re the best gym in the area. Three of us are undefeated. We’re producing studs. People see that and want to train with the best guys they can,” Sanders said. “We definitely push each other. You have guys who kick your ass every day. We want the best for each other. That’s why we’re here.”
Harvey expects the numbers and commitment to grow after White’s visit. He has been training at Young’s for three years. The cage side seat at the waterfront inspired him to step up his own training regimen. It’s a built-in advantage, Harvey noted, that has belonged almost exclusively to Lewiston until now.
“That’s what gets most people started. They go and see the fights and they want to try it,” Harvey said. “That’s why you see places like Central Maine BJJ (Lewiston) and First Class MMA (Topsham) growing so much. The fights are right there in their backyard.”
Lacey characterizes Young’s as “a gym full of killers.”
The statistics underscore Lacey’s point. The three pros with unblemished records all won their debut in two minutes or less.
“Ryan has only gone to a decision I think one time in his career. He’s a finisher. Josh won his fight by submission in the first round. CJ is super strong,” Lacey said. “They challenge me to be the best I can be every day. They keep me focused not just in the gym but in the game of life outside the cage.”
Although he is facing an opponent with significantly greater experience, Lacey expects a helpful adrenaline rush from having so many familiar faces at his back.
“It is different. I fought I think seven times in Lewiston between amateur fights and my pro debut,” he said. “This gives me a chance to be in my comfort zone. And a lot of my fans can’t make it down there. By the time you figure in the travel, the price of the tickets, maybe staying overnight, they just can’t do it.”
Harvey agreed, pointing out that it’s the initial fight for which he hasn’t needed to pack a suitcase.
“This will be the first time I’ve slept in my own bed the night before a fight. I think it’s a huge advantage,” Harvey said. “Some people might think with more of your fans there that there’s more pressure, but I think it just builds you up.”
“NEF Presents Dana White: Looking for a Fight” takes place on Friday, August 5, 2016 at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Tickets are on sale now at www.CrossInsuranceCenter.com or by calling the box office at 800.745.3000.
For more information on the event and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com. In addition, you can watch NEF videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA and www.flocombat.com, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”
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 Maine’s fighters and fans alike. NEF’s executive team has extensive experience in combat sports management, events production, media relations, marketing, legal and advertising.