FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bangor, Maine (September 3, 2018) – There’s no evidence that Easy Street exists in the world of professional mixed-martial-arts.
If it did, it’s safe to say Caleb Hall wouldn’t be able to find it, even if he were furnished the most precise global positioning system and the unlimited kindness of strangers.
Hall is wired to fight hard, fight often, and fight against the best available competition to give himself an accurate barometer of where he stands in the sport.
That won’t change this Saturday, September 8th, when he takes on C.J. Ewer in a lightweight bout at New England Fights 35: “Wicked Season.” The card will take place at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor with an opening bell time of 7 p.m.
Hall, 24, a multi-time state champion wrestler during his career at Dirigo High School, isn’t bothered that he’ll be taking on a hometown hero who has been a titleholder for the regional promotion. It seems he subscribes to pro wrestling legend Ric Flair’s mantra: To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.
“Whoever they offer and put in front of me is who I’m going to take on,” Hall said. “It doesn’t matter to me. It’s a big fight and it’s in his hometown. That definitely makes it more interesting.”
The fight is a natural pairing for two of Maine’s top pros. Each is eager to get back into the NEF hexagon, for opposite reasons, after their results earlier this year.
Hall handled John Ortolani, a wily veteran with main-event experience on his 20-fight ledger, in an impressive April pro debut. His game well developed from a double-digit total of amateur scraps, Hall earned a submission via the rarity of a Von Flue choke at 2:16 of the opening round.
Two months earlier, Ewer sustained his first loss in the pro cage by kneebar against Kemran Lachinov. He’s tough on home turf, however, as evidenced by a stoppage of Rumford’s Mike Hansen last summer.
“We have similar styles and similar games,” Hall said, “I try not to think about my opponent too much and just try to fight my fight. He’s a tough matchup no matter who he’s in there against.”
Since making his debut only a month after he crossed the legal age threshold of 18, Hall has carved out a reputation as a relentless, crowd-pleasing competitor who isn’t picky about his opponents.
That’s made life easier for NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson, who can always count on Hall being ready for prime time near the top of the bill.
“Caleb reminds me a lot of Devin Powell, our former lightweight champion. Devin most recently won in the UFC, the largest fight promotion on the planet,” Peterson said. “Devin got to where he is through good, old-fashioned diligence – desire, dedication, discipline and hard work. Caleb’s approach mirrors Devin’s. He’s not looking for the easy path to get where he wants to go.”
Everything else about Hall’s progression in the sport has been measured conservatively.
He toiled in the amateur ranks for more than five years, wanting to make sure that his acumen was developed and his repertoire well-balanced.
“I think I’m pretty well-rounded in every area,” Hall said, “My wrestling is still probably the strongest part of my game, but everything else is starting to catch up, like my submissions and my striking.”
Hall never budged from his amateur weight of 145 until moving up to 155 – historically NEF’s deepest and toughest pro division – for his shot at Ortolani.
He and Ewer are now jockeying for position in a class that provided great success for the likes of Powell, Bruce Boyington, Ryan Sanders, Jon Lemke and Jesse Erickson. Advancing to that fray would have been foolhardy if Hall hadn’t done things the right way physically and nutritionally.
“For me it’s been more about training and putting it on the right way. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I could still make 145, but this is a lot better for my body,” Hall said. “I was in the same weight class from the time I entered the sport when I was 18. It was a lot of weight cuts, but I was coming right out of high school wrestling where that was all part of it.”
When he fought at 145, Hall said his day-to-day weight when not in training was just shy of 170 pounds. He can now comfortably carry 175 to 180 between bouts. Less last-minute dehydration is necessary to reach the lightweight limit.
“He’s on the treadmill every day. He’s logging his training hours with commitment and focus,” Peterson said. “He’s living the lifestyle. It’s guys like Caleb that really get me excited about the sport, because they show us the best stuff that human beings are made of, and they give us a glimpse of what we’re capable of as people. If Caleb Hall hits the heights that he’s set for himself – and I’m confident that he will get there – it will be because he earned it the entire way.”
Hall appreciates the perception that his fight with Ewer is a big one in the NEF title picture and beyond, but as always he is eager to steer clear of the hype.
“I had a lot of confidence going in (against Ortolani), and that hasn’t changed,” Hall said. “I see every fight as your biggest fight, anyway. That’s just how I try to approach it. This sport has a small window.”
Three five-minute rounds aren’t much time in the grand scheme, either, although it’s a grueling grind when two action fighters such as Hall and Ewer are going at it.
Despite their first-round finishes last time around, Hall won’t be surprised to see this one venture closer to the advertised distance.
“We’ll see what happens. I don’t go in there thinking I’m going to take him out,” Hall said. “I expect it to be a war. It’ll probably go deep into the second and third rounds, and we’ll see who swims.”
NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 35: Wicked Season,” will see the company make its return to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. The event is scheduled to take place this Saturday, September 8, 2018 with a bell time of 7 pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.CrossInsuranceCenter.com.