CES 41 took place at Twin River Casino on Friday night and had the crowd in a frenzy all night with exciting fight after exciting fight. Jimmy Burchfield Sr., the president of CES MMA, put together an outstanding first card of 2017, with all fights keeping the crowd at the edge of their seat. It was a full 13-fight card, with only two of those fights going the distance to a decision, giving the fans what they want, as CES usually does with most of fights being stopped due to strikes or submission. CES 41 gave us everything we wanted as fans: knockouts, submissions, and back-and-forth fights.
The first big moment of the night that got everyone on their feet came in the third fight. A light heavyweight fight between Mike Rodriguez and Hector Sanchez. The bell rang and Sanchez ran at Rodriguez, who obliged him with a jumping front kick to the chest that dropped Sanchez. He then followed with hammer punches on Sanchez, who turned and covered up until the referee stopped the fight. The fight was the quickest knockout in CES history with Rodriguez ending the fight in just seven seconds! The fight got everyone on their feet and created the atmosphere in the room that didn’t leave the rest of the night.
Just a few fights later, and wouldn’t you know it, a 10-second knockout in a bantamweight bout between Kris Moutinho vs. Jason Rine. The fight got against the cage quickly, and Moutinho ended it quickly with a swift kick to the head that knocked out Rine. The fight was the last on the under-card which caped off a great six fights.
The main card started with the big boys. CES main cards are aired on AXS TV, and they booked the first fight with a CES fan favorite: Greg “Ribz” Rebello. Rebello fought Danyelle “Southern Boy” Williams, who “Ribz” made quick work of with his heavy hands. They came out swinging. Rebello seemed to be inviting the contest, and when he got Williams hurt, he was all over him, dropping him with a heavy volume of strikes and making the referee stop the fight.
Carlos Candelario vs. Miguel “Magic City Mauler” Restrepo was the second fight of the main card which was a great back-and-forth grappling math. They were exchanging top positions with take-downs and sweeps. Eventually, Candelario got the better of Restrepo and ended the fight with a rear-naked choke in the second round.
The heavyweights stepped back into the cage in the next fight. Tyler King, the big veteran, fought Keith “Bad Newz” Bell, and indeed “Bad Newz” it was for Tyler King. The two big heavyweights came up standing in the pocket throwing hooks. Kieth Bell landed a big overhand right dropping King, followed by hammer punches leaving King unconscious on the mat.
Another CES fan favorite, Kody Nordby a bantamweight fighter, found himself in a tough fight against David Garcia, and it really got the crowd buzzing. Garcia got top position early in the first round and rained down huge elbows and punches into the ribs of Nordby. Each shot got a reaction out of the crowd, and sitting so close to the cage, I could hear each blow to the side of Nordby, and I think it was hurting me than it was Nordby. Kody came out in the second round with the crowd behind him and turned the tide quickly. He got a big slam take-down and worked a guillotine choke to secure victory over David Garcia.
The eleventh fight of the night stole the show. It was a bantamweight bout between CES veteran Dinis “Sweetbread” Paiva and Jordan Espinosa. The main event was great, but for me, this was fight of the night. It was a back-and-forth stand up battle between two tough, game fighters. Paiva dominated the first round, getting two knockdowns and letting Espinosa get back up each time to try to finish it on their feet. Paiva seemed to have the biggest following of the night, and the crowd was rocking in that first round with chants of “Sweetbread” ringing out. The crowd quieted down in the second round when Espinosa dropped Paiva with a head kick and controlled the rest of the second round with a nice straight right, and he got a stepping right hook working very well. It all came down to the third and final round. It was a very close round with great exchanges and big punches landed which Paiva seemed to edge out. It came down to a judges decision, and it came back a unanimous victory for Dinis “Sweetbread” Paiva, and the crowd erupted as expected.
The co-main event of the night was the first ever sanctioned 225-pound cruiserweight MMA fight, featuring former UFC fighter Pat Walsh facing off against Kevin Haley. Pat Walsh looked to be the bigger fighter and got a take-down and held top position all first round. Quickly in the second round, Walsh closed the distance and sank in a guillotine which caused Haley to tap out.
The main event of the night featured CES featherweight champion Matt “The Mangler” Bessette. He defended his strap against a tough opponent in Kevin “The Hard Hitting Hillbilly” Croom. Bessette had a big crowd rooting him on, and he put on a hell of a performance. Croom came out strong in the beginning of the fight, pressuring the champ against the cage and started to work some uppercuts. Bessette turned the fight around after the that and dominated the rest of the fight. The champ put constant pressure on Croom in the first and second rounds cutting Croom and covering his face in blood.
“I figured he’d come out strong, but I knew I wanted to slow him down and attack the body a lot. I did, and it slowed him down big time. I got the finish by attacing the body. People thought he gassed, he didn’t, I stole his gas!” – Matt Bessette
Even through the blood and the beating, Croom never stopped fighting back and returning punches every time it seemed his was about to go down. When asked about his opponent’s resiliency:
“Yeah, he was a juggernaut, man”
The fight was close to ending in the second, and when Bessette jumped on him early in the first with more of the same, the referee stepped in and ended the fight. Bessette walked back out with the belt he walked in with.
Matt Bessette is getting closer to that UFC shot that that is well deserved after the performance he put out on Friday night, but he remains humble along the way, stating
“Its the next step, for sure. I just don’t know when that will be.”