FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Auburn, Maine (May 7, 2022)
There’s a substantial difference in age, overall mixed martial arts experience, and — at least historically speaking — weight between Nathaniel Grimard and his professional opponent at NEF 47: “The Battle of L/A.”
In fact, if you try to dig deeper into the background of Andrew Provost, you’re bound to break the shovel. Provost, based out of Peru, New York, is an interstate man of mystery.
Few of his nine amateur fights and four other exhibitions are readily available for viewing on the internet. More bizarrely, a vast majority of those bouts took place in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, far above the contracted catchweight of 150 pounds for the showdown on Saturday, May 14.
“We saw that too. We were a little confused, because the guy he fought was a heavyweight, a big dude,” Grimard said in a conversation with host Steve Domenico on a recent episode of The Room Podcast. “I know he’s fought at 170. I doubt he’s fought over that. Hopefully it’s a typo, but at the same time, I don’t care. I signed the contract. It doesn’t matter.”
At 24, Grimard is 10 years Provost’s junior, but both combatants will enter the cage at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn, Maine, looking to go 2-0 in the pros. Opening bell time is 7 p.m.
Both fighters pounded out a unanimous decision in their prize debuts. Provost tipped the scales just above 155 for his unanimous decision victory over Chris Rooney this past September in Barre, Vermont. Grimard weighed in just north of the featherweight limit of 145 for his win over Anthony Vasta at NEF 46: “Decade of Dominance.”
Including the final two fights on his 4-1 amateur ledger, Grimard will have fought on all four New England Fights cards since the post-COVID relaunch last summer.
“I’ve been so active the past year and a half where I’m starting to become pretty comfortable in the cage,” Grimard said. “It’s always nerve-racking and stuff, especially with your pro debut. You have more on the line. I went out, got the job done, and now we’re on to the next one.”
Grimard, a native of Exeter, New Hampshire, fighting out of Nostos MMA in nearby Somersworth, admitted that triumph over Vasta wasn’t his flashiest performance to date.
“I like Vasta, nothing but respect for him, but off film we knew what we had to do to get the win,” Grimard said. “It wasn’t the most exciting thing, but at the end of the day I’m 1-0 as a pro now. Yeah, the experience will come on the feet, but we just needed to get the first win.”
The extended introduction to the pro ranks did prove that a 15-minute fight won’t be any problem for Grimard, who noted that comfort level comes from the disciplined approach he embraces every day in the gym.
Grimard is trained by UFC and NEF veteran Devin Powell.
“It’s like an extra half a round for each one. When you’re in there, everything’s going a lot faster than you think it is. You’re watching the fight, it might be a little bit boring, but once you’re in there it flies by. It’s just on the moment,” Grimard said. “We were ready. Devin’s kicking our ass every day with conditioning, so I wasn’t worried about that at all. I knew I could tire the kid out and kinda just grind it out if I needed to. I love pushing a fast pace. If I get tired, I know the other guy’s gonna be way more tired. I’m looking to show that this next fight too, but whatever happens, happens. I’m ready for whatever this kid brings.”
Regarding the uncertainty surrounding his opponent, Grimard intends to control what he can control. Grimard also suspects the smaller weight cut to meet Provost in the middle will play to his advantage.
“I think it’s a tough matchup, but I can’t wait for this one. He had a lot of experience as an amateur. He definitely had way more than me. I think he was 7-2 or something like that. I really don’t know too much about him. We looked up film. We couldn’t find much. I’m just gonna fight my fight and look for that finish,” Grimard said. “At the end of the day it’s whatever. We’re training to get better and just improve all aspects of the game, so we’re gonna step in there. If we have to adapt with the grappling or striking, then that’s what we’ll do. The priority is just getting that win. If we have to strike the whole time, we will. If we have to grapple the whole time, we will as well.”
It’s often said that styles make fights, and Provost won his pro debut in similar fashion to Grimard.
“We watched that last fight when he fought Rooney. He was a good grappler. He had good top pressure, kinda like I did to Vasta. I was on top and looking to advance. He did the same thing in his fight,” Grimard said. “That makes for a great matchup on my part, Right now you look on paper and it’s a 50-50 matchup. You’ve got two good grapplers. I obviously am very confident going into this fight. I think I have the advantage on the feet and on the ground, so I’m looking for that finish either way.”
After three bouts close to his home base in Southern Maine and New Hampshire, Grimard doesn’t expect to lose that energy from the crowd when he pays his first visit to the Twin Cities.
“It’s a little bit farther, but it’s not too far out of the way for people,” Grimard said. “I’ve always had a great support system. I sold a decent amount of tickets, about the same amount as I sold last fight surprisingly. I’m hoping for that home crowd advantage. He’s coming into my house, so I can’t wait.”
That cheering section will be enhanced by the presence of two other fighters from the Nostos stable. David Burke will make his amateur debut against David McCarty, while Ross Dannar takes on Mohammad Al Kinani in a pro bout.
Grimard’s bond with Burke and Dannar extends beyond the walls of their current training facility.
“We all went to (Exeter) high school together,” Grimard said. “We were all on the same high school wrestling team. So now we’re all representing Nostos for that fight card, which is awesome.”
He predicted that his segment of that triple bill will be action-packed and could well beat that 15-minute clock.
“I really can’t wait for this fight. I don’t think I’ve been as excited as I am for this fight,” Grimard said. “I’m looking to strike with this kid. I’m looking to out-grapple him. If he wants to wrestle and grapple, that’s fine. I think I’ll be able to catch his neck. I’ve got some decent guard game too. Just looking for some surprises, get some finishes and be a good night for Nostos.”
And when that fourth straight NEF card is complete, Grimard’s family, friends and fans might want to mark their calendars for a fifth.
“I’m still young. I’m only 24. Obviously, I want to stay as active as I can, but it’s tough with this sport. You get banged up pretty easily. You’re stepping into a cage fight, you know?” Grimard said. “So if I’m healthy, I plan to be on this next NEF card (in the summer). Just keep fighting as much as I can. I’m chasing the dream right now, so it’s one fight at a time.”
NEF 47: “The Battle of L/A” is the organization’s first appearance in Lewiston/Auburn since June 22, 2019, and its inaugural card on the opposite side of the river. NEF held 25 of its first 30 dockets in Lewiston. Tickets are on sale now at www.NewEnglandFights.com/Tickets.