Tag Archives: Justin Witham

Tensions Running High as Former Falcons Teammates Prepare for MMA Cage Battle

Lewiston, Maine (January 10, 2018) – Growing up in the same blue-collar community and advancing through the same, storied sports program does not necessarily make two men best friends.

 

 

 

Former Mountain Valley High School teammates, and future New England Fights mixed martial arts opponents, Ryan Burgess and Nate Boucher are evidence of the old maxim, “familiarity breeds contempt.”

 

 

 

Burgess, 24, and Boucher, 21, will battle in an amateur flyweight bout at “NEF 32: Super Saturday” on Saturday, February 3. The fight at Androscoggin Bank Colisee will determine the number one contender in the 125-pound division, and earn the winner a title shot against champion Justin Witham.

 

 

 

It will have been almost a year since Burgess, a three-time Maine high school wrestling champion and past NEF titleholder, walked into the cage. He called NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson and specifically requested the Boucher fight.

 

 

 

Why? On one hand, it was a business decision after Boucher’s close, split-decision loss to Witham in a November title bout.

 

 

 

“I’ve been out for a year. I was hoping to jump right back into a title fight,” Burgess explained. “After Nate’s fight with Witham, I knew he would want the immediate rematch. Once it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen until April, I asked if we could do this fight in February, and Nate took it.”

 

 

 

Burgess (2-2) subsequently launched one or two social media grenades that appeared to indicate some level of animosity toward his fellow Falcon. It is likely less personal than tactical; Burgess sensed an opportunity to exploit what he sees as one of the chinks in Boucher’s armor.

 

 

 

“Nate, ever since he was a kid, has a piss-poor attitude when he loses. I hope to humble him a little bit and make sure he doesn’t have to worry about this fight getting in the hands of the judges,” Burgess said. “Nate probably could have been a two- or-three-time state champion if he had given himself the opportunity to do that. If he still has the same attitude he had back then, it’s going to end the same way.”

 

 

 

Burgess is one of only four three-time state champions in MVHS history. Coincidentally, Boucher’s brother, Ethan, also accomplished the feat.

 

 

 

Boucher, who has already taken out four-time Maine high school mat champion, and two-time New England finalist, Jeremiah Barkac of Dexter during his time in the NEF hexagon, looks and sounds like a different character than the one who struggled away from the mat as a teenager.

 

 

 

After winning his first two fights with ease, Boucher (2-1) was not the only one in the building who felt he had done enough to earn the belt in Portland.

 

 

 

“I thought I controlled the first two rounds of the fight. All three, really. The first two I pretty much had (Witham) choked out,” Boucher said. “It ended up being a learning experience for me that you can’t leave the fight to the judges. The great thing about the amateur ranks is, while of course I care about my record, at the end of the day it’s part of the learning process to make you a better professional.”

 

 

 

In response to Burgess’ volleys on Facebook, Boucher questioned the former champion’s behavior after winning the NEF strap two fights into his career.

 

 

 

“I’m not much for the trash talk. I just enjoy the sport. I like to fight and then just go home. He does it a little to build his ego I think,” Boucher said. “He dropped the belt because he was having trouble making weight, which is pretty disrespectful, in my opinion. He was out for a while, so now I’m ahead of him, and he knows he has to go through me.”

 

 

 

Burgess said he used that layoff to complete his college education and develop his credentials as a physical therapist assistant, indicating that the medical profession is more likely to be his long-term career than MMA.

 

 

 

While he continued his training schedule at Rumford Community Center with Berserkers MMA, Burgess said it was less intense and structured prior to his losses against Witham and Dustin Veinott. Burgess previously defeated both rivals.

 

 

 

“Physically I still should have beaten them, but mentally I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. Now I’m much more focused,” Burgess said. “At the time I was finishing school, working part-time 20 to 30 hours a week and going to school for probably another 40. I lost two fights where I was under weight. I was gaining weight while the other guys were cutting weight. I’d go in there at the limit and they would put on 10 to 15 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight.”

 

 

 

Boucher admittedly never reached his potential as a high school wrestler. He has followed a different path than Burgess, enrolling at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – where he still trains today – at age 13.

 

 

 

“I have some of the toughest and best training partners in the state,” Boucher said. “My jiu-jitsu has come a long way, almost the point where it has passed my wrestling a little bit. Of course, wrestling is what I always go back to when I need it. My striking is night-and-day. It was awful for my first fight.”

 

 

 

He added that his greatest success in MMA has come at the expense of former wrestlers.

 

 

 

Burgess is counting on Boucher to underestimate the rest of his repertoire. As someone who took up wrestling on the middle school junior varsity team in seventh grade, he said that his history as a quick study has carried over into realm of jiu-jitsu and boxing.

 

 

 

“I think he’s going to be surprised. He thinks he knows what I bring to the table,” Burgess said. “All he knows about me is my wrestling, but I have a lot more than that to fall back on. I already know what he brings to the table. And he’s not going to learn in two months what I’ve learned in two years.”

 

 

 

The opening bell on February 3 is set for 7 p.m. Tickets are available at www.TheColisee.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 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.

NEW CHAMPIONS CROWNED, MAIN EVENT THRILLS AS NEF 31 SELLS OUT AURA FOR PORTLAND DEBUT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Portland, Maine (November 3, 2017) – New England Fights (NEF) made its long-awaited debut in Portland, Maine on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd at Aura.

In the main event of the evening, hometown favorite Paul Gorman (11-9) took on James Blair (5-2) in a 130-pound catchweight contest.  The crowd was on the edge of its collective seat for a thrilling three-round war that will be a definite “fight of the year” candidate for 2017.  Gorman pulled off the unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards.

The ever-popular John “First Class” Raio (3-8) returned to the NEF cage after a three-year retirement.  Raio faced a game Zenon Herrera (0-6) and came out with the win in the third round when Herrera tapped out to a guillotine choke.

On the amateur side of the card, three new champions were crowned.  Terrance Jean-Jacques (3-0) became the new NEF Amateur Heavyweight Champion with a unanimous decision victory over defending champion Nick Gulliver (4-1).  Justin Witham (4-4) is the new flyweight titleholder after defeating Nate Boucher (2-1) by split decision.  Hilarie Rose (5-3) made history as the first women’s champion in promotion history by capturing the strawweight title against Alex Walker (4-2).

Two milestones were set early in the night as Jayda Bailey (1-0) became the youngest fighter to ever emerge victorious in the NEF cage, while Garry Carr (1-0) took the honor of the oldest fighter to ever win in the NEF cage.  Bailey turned 18 just eight days prior to the event.  Carr is 56 years young.

In addition to an evening of fights, fans were able to meet special guest Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (24-5).  Souza is currently the number-four ranked middleweight in the UFC.

The results from Portland, Maine:

PROFESSIONAL

Paul Gorman def. James Blair via unanimous decision

John Raio def. Zenon Herrera via guillotine, round 3

AMATEUR

Hilarie Rose def. Alex Walker via TKO, round 1

Justin Witham def. Nate Boucher via split decision

Terrance Jean-Jacques def. Nick Gulliver via unanimous decision

Carl Langston def. Henry Clark via unanimous decision

Mohammed al Kinani def. Phil Pearson via KO, round 1

Isaac Therrien def. Chad Weymouth via TKO, round 1

Francesca Morabito def. Carol Linn Powell via unanimous decision

Emmett Huber def. Will McCall via guillotine, round 1

Bill Cole def. Nathan Pete via rear-naked choke, round 2

Garry Carr def. David Hart via rear-naked choke, round 1

Mark Gardner def. Carlton Charles via TKO, round 2

Sarah Matulis def. Chelsea Elizabeth via TKO, round 1

Jayda Bailey def. Danae Dostie via TKO, round 1

NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 32: Super Saturday,” will see the company make its return to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.  The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 3, 2018.  Tickets are on-sale now online atwww.TheColisee.com.

NEF ANNOUNCES MONUMENTAL FIGHT CARD FOR PORTLAND DEBUT

Portland, Maine (October 6, 2017) – New England Fights (NEF) will make its long-awaited debut in Portland on Friday, November 3, 2017 at Aura with “NEF 31: The Old Port.”  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the full fight card for the event featuring a full slate of professional and amateur mixed-martial-arts bouts.

Maine fan-favorite Paul Gorman (10-9) is scheduled to take on James “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Blair (5-1) in the main event of the evening.  Gorman, the former NEF bantamweight titleholder and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt out of the Academy in Portland, makes his return to the NEF cage after a three-year absence.  Blair is a hot prospect from the world-renowned American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida where he trains alongside a veritable murderers’ row of current and former world champions like Mike Brown (26-9), Tyron Woodley (18-3-1), and Joanna Jędrzejczyk (14-0) just to name a few.

Reigning NEF Professional Middleweight Champion CJ Ewer (3-0) will be in action when he takes on Crowsneck Boutin (2-3) in a non-title affair.  Ewer captured the 185-pound title over the summer when he submitted Mike Hansen (5-6) at “NEF 30: Rumble in Bangor.”  Boutin will be coming off a year-long layoff from competition.

“The Blackpool Ripper” Matt Probin (0-0) makes his pro MMA debut against rugged veteranJosh Parker (6-9).  Both Probin and Parker have extensive backgrounds as professional boxers.  Probin has trained and competed in Muay Thai in Thailand.  Parker is the founder of Ruthless MMA & Boxing of Waterville, Maine.

John “First Class” Raio (2-8) will come out of retirement to face Zenon “K-Bar” Herrera (0-5).  Raio last fought in the summer of 2015.  He is the head coach of First Class MMA based in Brunswick, Maine.  Herrera, a veteran of both the United States Army and Marine Corps, is looking for his first win since joining the professional ranks two years ago.

The amateur side of the card will feature a total of three title fights.  NEF Amateur Heavyweight Champion Nick “The Guardian” Gulliver (4-0) will defend his strap against WWE signeeTerrance Jean-Jacques (2-0), while Nate Boucher (2-0) and Justin Witham (3-4) square off for the vacant flyweight title.  Alex Walker (4-1) and Hilarie Rose (4-3) will make history when they battle for the first-ever NEF women’s championship in the strawweight division.

The Walker-Rose fight will be one of four female bouts featured on the “NEF 31” amateur card.  Carol Linn Powell (0-0), wife of former NEF Professional Lightweight Champion and current UFC competitor Devin Powell (8-3), is scheduled to make her cage debut against Francesca Morabito (0-0). Jayda “Lil Killah” Bailey (0-0) makes her debut just eight days after her 18th birthday, the legal minimum age for competing in MMA in Maine, in a bantamweight bout with Danae Dostie (0-0) while Sarah Matulis (0-0) and Chelsea Elizabeth(0-0) face off in yet another double amateur debut.

The full “NEF 31” fight card (subject to change and approval of the Combat Sports Authority of Maine):

 

PROFESSIONAL MMA

180 CJ Ewer 3-0 (Young’s MMA) vs Crowsneck Boutin 2-3 (Independent)

 

150 John Raio 2-8 (First Class MMA) vs Zenon Herrera 0-5 (Independent)

 

145 Josh Parker 6-9 (Ruthless MMA & Boxing) vs Matt Probin 0-0 (CMBJJ/Young’s MMA)

 

135 Paul Gorman 10-9 (The Academy) vs James Blair 5-1 (American Top Team)

 

AMATEUR MMA

 

265*TITLE  Nick Guilliver 4-0 (c) (First Class /Foundry) vs Terrance Jean-Jacques 2-0 (Team Link)

 

125*TITLE  Nate Boucher 2-0 (CMBJJ) vs Justin Witham 3-4 (Shatterproof Combat Club)

 

115 *TITLE Alex Walker 4-1 (Kaze) vs Hilarie Rose 4-3 (USMMA)

265 Matt Glover 1-1 (Berserkers MMA) vs Jason Field 0-2 (Kenney’s MMA)

 

175 Carlton Charles 1-0 (Charles Family Fighting/Fire&Iron Athletics) vs Nate Evans 0-0

 

170 Mohammed al Kinani 0-0 (Evolution Athletix) vs Phil Pearson 0-1 (First Class MMA)

 

170 David Grant 0-0 (Evolution Athletix) vs Tom Rials 0-0 (Nostos)

 

155 Will McCall 1-2 (Evolution Athletix) vs Chad Pierce 1-0 (The Academy)

 

155 Nick Banks 0-0 (Choi Institute) vs Emmett Huber 0-1 (The Academy)

 

155 Garry Carr 0-0 (CMBJJ) vs David Hart 0-1 (Kenney’s MMA)

135 Sarah Matulis 0-0 (Shatterproof Combat Club) vs Chelsea Elizabeth 0-0 (First Class MMA)

 

135 Danae Dostie 0-0 (Kenney’s MMA) vs Jayda Bailey 0-0 (Young’s MMA)

 

135 Carl Langston 6-9 (Young’s MMA) vs Henry Clark 3-3 (Choi Institute)

 

135 Kam Arnold 1-0 (CMBJJ) vs Caleb Costello 3-4 (Young’s MMA)

 

135 Carol Linn Hawkins 0-0 (Nostos) vs Francesca Morabito 0-0 (Choi Institute)

 

NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 31: The Old Port,” will see the company debut in Portland, Maine at the brand new, state-of-the-art venue Aura.  The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 3, 2017.  Tickets are on sale now at www.auramaine.com.

NEF FLYWEIGHT TITLE WILL BE UP FOR GRABS IN PORTLAND

Portland, Maine (August 21, 2017) – New England Fights (NEF) will make its debut in Portland on Friday, November 3, 2017 at Aura with “NEF 31: The Old Port.”  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of an amateur mixed-martial-arts title bout to the card.  Nate Boucher (2-0) will face Justin Witham (3-4) with the winner to be crowned the new NEF MMA Amateur Flyweight Champion.  The 125-pound title currently sits vacant.

Nate Boucher brings a background in wrestling with him to the cage.  He competed for Mountain Valley High School (MVHS) in Rumford, Maine prior to training in MMA.  Boucher made his NEF debut in 2014, just months after his eighteenth birthday – the legal age limit for competing in MMA in Maine.  Earlier this month in Bangor, Boucher made his return to the NEF cage.  He was victorious by first-round submission over Jeremiah Barkac (0-1).  Boucher is currently a member of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (CMBJJ).

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that my childhood dream is coming true,” said Boucher when reached for comment. “This fight was only a matter of time. All my years of training is for this moment.”

Justin Witham got off to a slow start in his amateur career.  He lost his first three in a row prior to his first victory over Brent Ouellette (0-1) by technical knockout in the first round.  Witham is currently riding a two-fight win streak.  Earlier this year, he submitted previous flyweight champion Ryan Burgess (2-2) in a non-title bout, avenging an earlier loss to Burgess.  Witham represents the Shatterproof Combat Club.

“Much respect to my opponent and anyone who steps inside the cage,” said Witham. “Every fighter has a fight that makes or breaks him. I will not break. This is the culmination of three years of hard work. Blood, sweat and tears – time away from my loved ones. Capturing the 125-pound title means everything to me and I will not be leaving without it over my shoulder!”

NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 31: The Old Port,” will see the company make its long-awaited debut in Portland, Maine at the brand new, state-of-the-art venue Aura.  The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 3, 2017.  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 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.

BROTHER AND SISTER MMA FIGHTERS RETURN TO CAGE AT NEF 27

 

Lewiston, Maine (December 15, 2016) –New England Fights (NEF) returns to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on February 11, 2017 with its next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 27: RESURGENCE.”  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of two amateur bouts to the card.  Ryan Burgess (2-1) will battle Justin Witham (2-4) in a flyweight contest while his sister, Nicole Burgess (0-1), takes on Sarah Ziehm (0-0) in the strawweight division.

 

This will not be the first time the Burgess siblings have competed on an NEF card together.  Last June at “NEF 24,” Ryan and Nicole would taste defeat at the hands of Dustin Veinott (5-4) and Alex Walker (2-1), respectively.  They will look to redeem themselves on February 11.

 

“I’m super excited to get my sister back in the cage on the same card as me,” said Ryan Burgess. “She has always been a competitor and being able to train side by side with her throughout this fight camp will help me as much as it will help her. She is tough as nails and everything I will be helping her learn over the next two months will just reinforce the knowledge I have already obtained from my coaches. Her debut was against a seasoned fighter in Alex Walker and I can’t wait to see her take home her first win on February 11th.”

 

Ryan and Nicole are based out of the Berserkers MMA camp in Rumford, Maine.  They grew up in neighboring Mexico, Maine.  Ryan was a three-time state wrestling champion out of Mountain Valley High School, while Nicole, a multi-sport athlete, also wrestled and excelled in field hockey.  She has continued her field hockey career at Plymouth State University.  Ryan captured the NEF MMA Flyweight Title last year.  Both siblings are confident that Nicole can replicate his success in the cage.

 

“Training with my brother is both a challenge and a blessing,” said Nicole.  “We’ll get on each other’s nerves, but at the end of the day we want each other to succeed. Plus, he’s a good partner to have on your team.”

 

Ryan’s bout at “NEF 27” will be a rematch.  In their first meeting, he defeated Justin Witham via unanimous decision at “NEF 18” in the summer of 2015.

 

“Rematching Witham will be a perfect opportunity for me to showcase the huge strides I have made over the last year and a half since the beginning of my MMA career. He is a really tough dude and I know he will show up for a war, but I have made huge improvements in all aspects of my game since adding Jason Bell to my corner and I will be the one to decide the outcome of this fight. I will control the pace of the fight and whether I want to take it to him on the feet or take him down and submit him, there is nothing he will be able to do to stop me. This fight will not go three rounds.”

 

Justin Witham is a member of the Shatterproof Combat Club.  Since his loss to Burgess, Witham has gone 2-1 including an impressive submission win over Conner Murphy (1-1) in his most recent outing.  Witham is certain that he can defeat Burgess in the rematch.

 

“I’ve been wanting this fight since the second our first fight was over,” exclaimed Witham.  “I can and will win!”

 

As for Nicole, she will be taking on the debuting Sarah Ziehm.  Ziehm is a member of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (CMBJJ) based in nearby Auburn, Maine.

 

“I’m looking forward to getting back into the cage,” said Nicole.  “I think my first fight was a good learning experience and I got out all my nerves that I didn’t expect to have. Now, it’s my turn to come out with a ‘W’ for my team.”

 

NEF’s next event, “NEF 27: RESURGENCE” takes place on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 7 p.m.  Tickets start at $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling the Colisee box office at 207.783.2009, extension 525.

 

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, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”

NEW ENGLAND FIGHTS ANNOUNCES THE RESULTS FROM LEWISTON

Lewiston, Maine (June 18, 2016) – New England Fights (NEF) held the fight promotion’s latest event, “NEF 24: PROMISED LAND” on Saturday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine.  The event featured a full slate of professional boxing, amateur mixed-martial-arts (MMA) and professional MMA bouts.  Nearly 2,000 packed the hallowed halls where Muhammad Ali once defended the heavyweight championship of the world against Sonny Liston.  A special video tribute was presented honoring Ali prior to the beginning of the event.

 

For the second time since April, Brandon Berry (11-2-1) and James Lester(11-9-1) went the distance.  This time, unlike the last bout which was scored a draw, there was a winner.  Lester is travelling back to his hometown of Detroit, Michigan the new Northeast Junior Welterweight Boxing Champion after winning a unanimous decision.

 

Alex Walker (1-1) and Nicole Burgess (0-1) kept alive the tradition of women’s fights stealing the show at NEF events.  The two athletes battled back and forth in what can only be described as a “thriller” before a deafening crowd.  Walker picked up the first win of her MMA career via an armbar submission in the third round.

 

Fans who missed the event, or who were at the Colisée and want to relive it, can watch the archived copy of the show by signing up for a FloPRO account at  www.FloCombat.com.

 

The  results from Lewiston, Maine:

 

PROFESSIONAL BOXING

James Lester def. Brandon Berry via unanimous decision

Russell Lamour def. Roberto Valenzuela via KO, round 1

Vinnie Carita def. Francisco Mireles via KO, round 2

Casey Kramlich def. Zenon Herrera via TKO, round 3

Steve Collins, Jr. def. Jose Humberto Corral via unanimous decision

PROFESSIONAL MMA

 

Jesse Erickson def. Amos Collins via KO, round 1

Brandon Bushaw def. Matt Denning via Kimura, round 3

 

AMATEUR MMA

 

Dustin Veinott def. Ryan Burgess via triangle choke, round 2

Mike Bezanson def. Shawn Bang via KO, round 1

Derek Daley def. Johel Stephenson via TKO, round 1

Justin Witham def. Conner Murphy via rear-naked choke, round 3

Skyler Bang def. Eddie DeRoche via rear-naked choke, round 1

Steve Bang, Jr. def. Dom Cofone via guillotine, round 1

Alex Walker def. Nicole Burgess via armbar, round 3

Dr. Steve Bang def. Stacy Lupo via TKO, round 3

 

New England Fights’ next event, “NEF 25: HEROES & VILLAINS,” takes place on Saturday, September 10, 2016 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine.  Tickets start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling the Colisée box office at 207.783.2009 x 525.  Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the event.

 

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, 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.