New England Fights (NEF) made its return to Portland on Saturday night with the fight promotion’s latest mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 33: Riptide.” For the second time in as many events at the venue, NEF packed Aura with a sold-out crowd.
On the amateur portion of the card, Kam Arnold (3-0) continued his winning ways with a highlight-reel, one-punch knockout of David Thompson (1-3). Arnold, a hot prospect out of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in nearby Lewiston, Maine, dropped Thompson with a right hand in the first round to remain undefeated.
Walt Shea (3-1) and Nate Boucher (2-3) met in the amateur headliner at a catchweight of 130-pounds. Both athletes were looking to bounce back from losses in their last respective NEF appearances, but it was Shea who took the victory late in the third round when referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the fight due to strikes. Earlier in the evening, Shea’s First Class MMA teammate, Ben Murtiff (1-0) won his amateur debut, making for a perfect 2-0 night for the Topsham, Maine-based team.
On the professional side of the card, Ernesto Ornelas (3-7) picked up the win over Carl Langston (0-1) via unanimous decision. Moments later, Ornelas’s teammate at the Choi Institute Caleb Hall (1-0) was successful in his pro debut with a first-round submission of veteran John Ortolani (8-13).
The main event of the evening saw longtime Maine MMA veteran Bill Jones (13-11) defeat Matt Denning (5-8) via technical knockout in the second round. Denning announced his retirement from cage competition immediately following the bout. Jones’ win capped a successful night for Nostos MMA of Somersworth, New Hampshire. The team went 3-0 on the night with Zac Richard (1-0) and Killian Murphy (1-0) taking home wins on the amateur card.
NEF announced that its next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 34: Home of the Brave” would take place back at Aura in Portland on June 16, 2018. Already announced for that card, Ross Dannar (1-1) and Devin Corson (1-1) will square off in an amateur lightweight contest, while Aaron Lacey (5-1) returns to the NEF cage to take on Da’mon Blackshear (4-1) in a professional featherweight bout.
The results from Portland, Maine:
Bill Jones def. Matt Denning via TKO, round 2
Caleb Hall def. John Ortolani via Von Flue Choke, round 1
Ernesto Ornelas def. Carl Langston via unanimous decision
Walt Shea def. Nate Boucher via TKO, round 3
Killian Murphy def. Krishna Scott via TKO, round 1
Ben Murtiff def. James Lewis via TKO, round 1
Kam Arnold def. David Thompson via KO, round 1
Mark Gardner def. Brandon Schwinck via rear-naked choke, round 1
Duncan Smith def. Taylor Bartlett via standing guillotine, round 1
Zac Richard def. Gabriel Diaz via TKO, round 1
Liam Fagan def. Curtis Ouellette via unanimous decision
Carol Linn Powell drew Chelsea Tucker (Grappling Match)
New England Fights (NEF) makes its return to Portland this Saturday night, April 14, 2018, with the fight promotion’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 33: Riptide.” Earlier today, NEF held the event weigh-in at Aura.
The weights from Portland, Maine:
Bill Jones (155.2) vs. Matt Denning (157.6)
Caleb Hall (155.4) vs. John Ortolani (155.7)
Ernesto Ornelas (134.9) vs. Carl Langston (136.0)
Walt Shea (128.8) vs. Nate Boucher (129.9)
Killian Smith (149.5) vs. Krishna Scott (149.1)
Ben Murtiff (218.4) vs. James Lewis (224.0)
David Thompson (137.3) vs. Kam Arnold (138.1)
Mark Gardner (184.0) vs. Brandon Schwinck (182.0)
Duncan Smith (165.5) vs. Taylor Bartlett (161.6)
Zac Richard (134.7) vs. Gabriel Diaz (131.8)
Liam Fagan (169.2) vs. Curtis Ouellette (168.5)
Carol Linn Powell (139.0) vs. Chelsea Tucker (137.0) (Grappling Match)
New England Fights (NEF) makes its return to Portland this Saturday night, April 14, 2018, with the fight promotion’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 33: Riptide.” Earlier today, NEF announced that the event weigh-ins will originate from Aura this Friday, April 13, 2018 at 1 p.m. EST. Aura is located at 121 Center Street, Portland, Maine 04101.
Weigh-ins are free and open to the public. Fans and press are encouraged to attend. Aura Sports, the sports pub within the venue, will have a lunch menu available for those in attendance. All of the competitors on this Saturday’s card will be present. Fighters will be available for interviews and photo opportunities. For those unable to attend, the weigh-ins will stream live on the “New England Fights” Facebook page.
The full “NEF 33” fight card (subject to change):
155 POUNDS: Bill Jones vs. Matt Denning
155 POUNDS: Caleb Hall vs. John Ortolani
135 POUNDS: Ernesto Ornelas vs. Carl Langston
130 POUNDS: Walt Shea vs. Nate Boucher
150 POUNDS: Killian Smith vs. Krishna Scott
225 POUNDS: Ben Murtiff vs. James Lewis
140 POUNDS: David Thompson vs. Kam Arnold
185 POUNDS: Mark Gardner vs. Brandon Schwinck
165 POUNDS: Duncan Smith vs. Taylor Bartlett
135 POUNDS: Zac Richard vs. Gabriel Diaz
170 POUNDS: Liam Fagan vs. Curtis Ouellette
140 POUNDS: Carol Linn Powell vs. Chelsea Tucker (Grappling Match)
NEF’s next mixed-martial-arts event, “NEF 33: Riptide,” will see the company make its return to Aura in Portland, Maine. The event is scheduled to take place this Saturday night with a bell time of 7 pm. Tickets are on-sale now online at www.AuraMaine.com.
We all celebrate certain milestone birthdays in our youth that furnish a new level of freedom.
Perhaps the possibility of getting a driver’s license was the be-all, end-all at one point. Some eagerly await the option to vote or to serve their country through the military. And yes, many count the days to when they can toast responsibly with an adult beverage.
Caleb Hall’s grown-up goal, before he knew there were any restrictions against it, was to enter the mixed martial arts cage. He was 17, a senior wrestler and football player at Dirigo High School, when he learned of an upstart enterprise known as New England Fights.
“Ever since I started wrestling, I started watching MMA and became obsessed with it,” Hall said. “Then when I found out the promoter (Matt Peterson) was from my area and that there were actually fights in Lewiston, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know I had to be 18.”
Eleven fights later, his face a tad more weathered but his spirit emboldened from taking on the top amateur competition in northern New England, Hall is turning professional.
Hall will step into the hexagon against 20-fight veteran John Ortolani at “NEF 33: Riptide.” The card will take place at Aura in Portland on Saturday, April 14.
“He’s a tough opponent. He’s been a pro lacrosse player, so he’s definitely an athlete,” Hall said of Ortolani. “He’s been knocked out nine times to strikes, so I’d say he definitely has a questionable chin. That’s something I can try to capitalize on.”
Teenagers and young adults approached Peterson in droves when he and Nick DiSalvo launched the local organization.
All were enamored with the idea of taking their athletic acumen and fighter’s heart to the cage, so Hall’s interest was nothing new to the matchmaker. Taking the next step to sign a contract was always a different story.
“Caleb is a special athlete,” Peterson said. “He called me when he was 17 years old and asked for a fight. I had to explain to him at that time that he was too young to compete, and to call me when he reached the legal age of 18. To my surprise, he actually called me back when he turned 18, and he’s been an NEF mainstay ever since.”
With family, friends and former teammates packed into the cage side seats, Hall stopped John Parker in 51 seconds that September night.
“That was crazy,” he said. “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.”
Hall went 8-3 as an amateur, winning his last three fights. His only NEF losses were to Aaron Lacey and Josh Harvey.
A run that started with a few-months-premature phone call ended with championship gold. Hall picked up the vacant NEF amateur featherweight title by submission over Erik Nelson in April 2016 and defended it by split decision against Johnny Crafts in September of that year.
“He never shies away from a challenge,” Peterson said. “Consistently during his time in the cage, he has embraced the opportunity to face the toughest guys. Whether it was Josh Harvey or (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) brown belt Johnny Crafts, he always goes for it. I don’t think he’s ever turned down a fight that I’ve approached him with, and that’s pretty much unheard of in the combat sporting space.”
Hall was set to make his pro debut when NEF made its initial Portland appearance last November, but he suffered a broken hand in training. The injury required surgery to install a plate, followed by months of physical therapy.
It all makes Ortolani (8-12), a Massachusetts native fighting out of Tampa, Florida, an interesting choice for getting those hands dirty once again. While the veteran has lost eight of his past 10 fights, he owns a win over a name synonymous with NEF, Bruce “Pretty” Boy” Boyington. Ortolani also took Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Des Green to the cards before dropping a unanimous decision.
“If you want to make it in the pros, you’ve got to beat some guys, man,” Hall said. “I think it’s a perfect situation for my first pro fight. I hope his style plays into my hands. I’m going to be head hunting and going for that knockout.”
The fight will take place at the 155-pound lightweight limit. With the exception of two bouts, Hall’s amateur career was contested in the featherweight (145) class.
Hall chalks up the change to the normal growth pattern of young adulthood, although he added that his strength and conditioning routine also played a role.
“He’s a rare kind of competitor, a champion, and when he digs deep and slides it into the next gear, watch out,” Peterson said. “I’m looking forward to witnessing how he will define himself in the pro ranks. If his amateur career is any indication, he’s destined to make a name for himself and turn out some lights in the process.”
Look no farther than Hall’s recent travel itinerary for evidence of that commitment.
Hall, who relocated to Portland to attend college and train at Choi Institute shortly after his NEF debut, recently was in Florida for a two-week stint with the renowned American Top Team.
The eager 17-year-old has evolved into a man with a plan.
“There’s a Maine connection there with (UFC veteran) Mike Brown, who is one of the head coaches. He originally trained at Choi Institute,” Hall said. “It was two weeks, just to get some training and see where I’m at. There are all kinds of UFC guys there to train and spar with. It’s a step up in the level of competition for sure.”