Ewell stuns Paiva to capture world title at CES MMA 50

Photo courtesy of Fightbook MMA – Andre Ewell came through on his promise Friday to silence the crowd at Twin River Casino and returned to California a world champion.

The Riverside native stunned the crowd in the main event of “CES MMA 50,” submitting fan-favorite Dinis Paiva (11-7) 36 seconds into the third round of their scheduled five-round bout to capture the vacant CES MMA World Bantamweight Title on AXS TV.

Paiva looked sharp as ever through the first two rounds, peppering Ewell (13-4) with overhand rights and scoring a key takedown in the second, nearly locking in a rear-naked choke in the process. Paiva paid the price for his early aggression, sustaining a nasty cut over his left eye in the second round that left him bloodied as he retreated to the corner between rounds.

That’s when the tide turned in Ewell’s favor. With two solid rounds under his belt, Paiva shot for a takedown to open the third. Ewell stuffed it brilliantly, locked in the choke against the cage and submitted Paiva within seconds to silence the home crowd and capture the title.

Ewell, fighting on the east coast for the first time, has now won four consecutive bouts while Paiva suffered his first defeat since 2015.

Welterweights Jon Manley (11-5) of Ludlow, Mass., and Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells (5-1) staged an epic battle in Friday’s co-feature with Wells earning his second consecutive victory with CES MMA, defeating the former UFC vet by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-26, 29-28.

Fresh of his stunning knockout win over Gary Balletto Jr. at “CES MMA 49,” Wells again came out firing against the taller, rangy Manley, landing punishing blows in the opening round that left Manley a bloody mess at the end of the first three minutes.

Showing off his sturdy chin, Manley absorbed more punishment in the second before finally getting to the fight to the ground, where he briefly controlled the pace, only to have Wells break out of a rear-naked choke attempt in the closing minutes.

Manley needed a miracle in the third to pull out the win, but instead ate a stiff left jab early in the round that sent him to the canvas again. Wells stayed out of harm’s way for the remainder of the fight to win the round and earn the victory on the scorecards.

In a rematch of their bout at “CES MMA 47” in November, Woonsocket flyweight Jose Lugo (3-0) dominated Cortland, N.Y., vet Michael Taylor (1-2) for the second time, again earning the win by rear-naked choke, this time in the second round at the 1:31 mark.

Lugo softened Taylor in the opening round with repeated elbows, but Taylor somehow survived three submission attempts in the closing minute before Lugo finally finished the fight in the second. Taylor took the fight on short notice when his original opponent, Josh Ricci, broke his foot in camp.

Red-hot middleweight Reginaldo Felix (5-2, 4 KOs) won his fifth consecutive fight on Friday’s main card and his fourth by knockout, punishing Pat McCrohan (3-2) of Berkley, Mass., before referee Bryan Miner mercifully stopped the bout at the 4:42 mark of the second round.

Felix found his rhythm in the closing minutes of the round, clipping McCrohan with lefts and rights as his opponent tried desperately to regain his composure. Felix stayed patient as McCrohan stumbled across the cage and landed one last left to the jaw, prompting Miner to wave it off.

Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (5-2, 2 KOs) brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling, first-round knockout win over New York’s Alfred Jones (3-4) courtesy of a clean, three-punch combination 1:58 into the opening round.

Moutinho found an opening in Jones’ defense with a hard right hook to jaw followed by a straight left and another right that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. The win snapped Moutinho’s two-fight losing streak.

Making his CES MMA debut all the way from Las Vegas, bantamweight Adam Acquaviva (7-3, 2 KOs) outclassed Providence’s John Douma (3-1), finishing the fight by knockout at the 2:47 mark of the third round.

Douma entered with two knockout wins on his resume, but Acquaviva had no trouble standing toe-to-toe with the previously-unbeaten righthander and eventually earned the finish in the third when he gained side mount and pulverized Douma with elbows to the forehead, forcing referee Kevin MacDonald to stop the fight.

In the opening bout of the televised main card, light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (2-0) of Wrentham, Mass., ended a stalemate in the opening round with a guillotine submission win over Marquis Allen (1-2) at the 3:55 mark.

Allen scored a one-punch knockout in his first and only appearance with CES MMA in 2016, but had no such luck against Cherant, who pressed the action and didn’t allow Allen to gain enough separation to throw his right hand. Cherant eventually locked in the guillotine to force the submission, his second win of 2018 after notching a victory via submission in his pro debut at “CES MMA 48.”

Also on the preliminary card, featherweight Brendan Marotte (2-0, 2 KOs) of Hampstead, N.H., earned his second consecutive first-round knockout win, this time stopping pro debut Arslan Otchiyev (0-1) of West Haven, Conn., with just 13 seconds remaining in round.

Marotte was simply too strong for Otchiyev and frequently got the better of their exchanges. It appeared Otchiyev wasn’t going to make it too far past the opening bell, but withstood a few early flurries in the first few minutes, only to get caught with a knee to the face that all but ended the fight and forced Miner to stop the action at the 4:47 mark.

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Searching for her first career victory following a loss in her debut, Norfolk, Mass., flyweight Hilarie Rose (1-1) dominated Miami’s Thaias Sousa (0-3), earning the win via guillotine submission at 2:16 of the opening round.

Rose set the tone from the opening bell, first exchanging blows with Rose in the center of the cage. Later in the round, she scored a crucial takedown with a well-executed hip toss, then proceeded to lock in the choke, which immediately forced Sousa to tap.

Fall River, Mass., light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (2-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten in the preliminary opener and scored his second career knockout at the 2:20 mark of the third round against veteran David White (0-3) from Cumberland, Md.

White controlled the action in the first two rounds, smothering White with his superior ground game, and almost locked in a guillotine choke in the third before finishing his opponent with a series of unanswered strikes. White also earned a knockout victory in his professional debut at “CES MMA 47,” stopping James Dysard in just 39 seconds.

Milford, Mass., welterweight Toby Oden (3-2) closed the preliminary card with his first win since 2015, beating pro debut Jeremy Puglia (0-1) of Long Island by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.

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Andre Ewell is fully aware the entire crowd at Twin River Casino will be rooting for hometown favorite Dinis Paiva when the two face one another Friday for the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title.

“Sweetbread” Paiva (11-6, 6 KOs) practically owns the arena, having fought there 17 times, more than any fighter in CES MMA history.

The cage? Ewell (12-4) says that still belongs to him.

“When I’m on that stage, I don’t get nervous,” Ewell said. “I’m at home.”

“Even though I’m coming out to his hometown, it’s more like, hey, you’re actually visiting my house.”

The Riverside, Calif., native is beaming with confidence as he prepares for the fight of his life against the red-hot Paiva, the East Providence, R.I., bantamweight who has won four in a row and eight of his last nine entering Friday.

Their five-round title bout headlines “CES MMA 50” on AXS TV, the promotion’s 50thshow since its inception in 2010. Paiva earning top billing is fitting considering he debuted at “CES MMA 6” in 2011 and has remained with the promotion ever since, regardless of losing streaks, coaching changes or the typical ebbs and flows that come with being a professional fighter.

Paiva considered walking away after losing five of his first eight fights, but reworked his inner circle and is now on the precipice of winning a world title, an unlikely storybook ending for a fighter who has sacrificed in and out of the gym to get to where he is today.

While Ewell is impressed with Paiva’s rise to stardom — “He definitely has heart and determination,” he said — the 30-year-old former professional boxer is intent on writing his own fairytale finish on the sport’s biggest stage. Winning a world title on AXS TV against the fan-favorite could provide the boost he needs to get to the next level.

“I already know he’s the superhero of Rhode Island,” Ewell said. “I’ve got to come into his territory and do what I do best. Coming into someone else’s backyard and proving you are the top dog is the best feeling in the world.

“I know I’m the best fighter out there. This is going to be my doorway to the UFC. The next fight is definitely the most important fight. All I’ve got to do is do my job and perform.”

Tickets for “CES MMA 50” start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office. The preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card at 9.

Ewell is used to being out of his comfort zone, whether it’s in life or mixed martial arts. Growing up as the oldest in a family of nine, he and his siblings moved frequently from California to Texas and back again — four times, to be exact. Being the new kid at every school also forced him to keep his guard up.

“I was always fighting,” he said.

“Me being the oldest, I had to take on a bigger role in the family. I had to grow up a lot faster than most kids. Everything ended up molding me into an adult.”

Ewell wrestled as a youth, then transitioned to taekwondo and boxing. He eventually began his professional fighting career in the boxing ring at the age of 23 in 2011, but the “politics” of the sport drove him away. He was merely fodder for up-and-coming prospects supported financially by well-established promotors. He felt used and walked away from the sport in 2013.

Two years later, following the birth of his son, Eli, he switched to MMA and immediately felt at home.

“I pick things up fast, especially when I have people preaching to me,” Ewell said. “I ended up grasping it quickly.”

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With no amateur bouts under his belt, Ewell won his first three fights as a pro before losing three of his next five. Since a split-decision loss to Ryan Lilley in February of 2017, he’s gone on a Paiva-like stretch with wins in seven of his last eight, including three in a row entering Friday.

The bright lights of AXS TV won’t be a factor; he recently fought on the network at Legacy Fighting Alliance 36, defeating Trent Meaux by first-round knockout.

Aside from being the visitor in Paiva’s hometown Friday, Ewell draws motivation from his upbringing, reminiscing about watching his parents put in long hours to provide for his family. He has also had custody issues with his son, now five years old, which motivates him even more to be the best he can be Friday night in what will be the biggest fight of his life.

“Growing up, watching my mom work, my pops always pushing me, I automatically see that grind,” he said. “We didn’t have everything, so that automatically makes you want to push and have something. When it comes to my son, everything, all the emotion, comes out in that moment.

“I know my whole background, how I was raised, where I come from. This is me. I want to be something better than I was yesterday.”

Having been through so much himself, Ewell respects Paiva for battling back despite his early struggles, but the camaraderie goes out the window once the bell rings Friday. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for both fighters and the winner moves one step closer toward achieving his goals.

“To take his record from being not so good and pushing it in the right direction, that’s a product of hard work and positivity, but now he’s meeting someone who works harder and is more dedicated,” Ewell said. “Everything will show inside that cage. He’s a cool cat. I especially like his nickname, but now it’s my lunchtime, because I’m hungry.”

Also highlighting “CES MMA 50,” Ludlow, Mass., welterweight Jon Manley (11-4, 2 KOs) battles Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells (4-1, 2 KOs) and Woonsocket, R.I., flyweight Jose Lugo (2-0, 1 KO) makes his network television debut in a rematch against Cortland, N.Y., native Michael Taylor (1-1, 1 KO).

Middleweight Pat McCrohan (3-1, 2 KOs) of Berkley, Mass., returns to face red-hot Worcester, Mass., prospect Reginaldo Felix (5-3, 2 KOs). Bantamweight John Douma (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence also debuts on the AXS TV platform in a highly-anticipated showdown against Nevada’s Adam Acquaviva (5-3, 1 KO). Also on the main card, female flyweight sensation Maria Rivera (2-0, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., puts her unbeaten record on the line against Mallory Martin (3-2, 1 KO) of Denver.

The preliminary card features a welterweight scrap between veteran Toby Oden (2-2, 1 KO) of Milford, Mass., and newcomer Jeremy Puglia of Long Island, who makes his professional debut. Decorated light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (1-0) returns to face Mansfield, Ohio, native Marquis Allen (1-0, 1 KO) and featherweight Brandon Marotte (1-0, 1 KO) of Hempstead, N.H., battles debut Arslan Otchiyev of West Haven, Conn.

Also on the preliminary card, Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (4-1, 2 KOs) makes his long-awaited return against New York’s Alfred Jones (3-3, 1 KO) and light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (1-0) of Fall River, Mass., faces David White (0-2) of Cumberland, Md. Flyweights Hilarie Rose (0-1) of Norfolk, Mass., and Thais Sousa (0-2) of Miami search for their first career victories against one another in a special female attraction. is fully aware the entire crowd at Twin River Casino will be rooting for hometown favorite Dinis Paiva when the two face one another Friday for the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title.

“Sweetbread” Paiva (11-6, 6 KOs) practically owns the arena, having fought there 17 times, more than any fighter in CES MMA history.

The cage? Ewell (12-4) says that still belongs to him.

“When I’m on that stage, I don’t get nervous,” Ewell said. “I’m at home.”

“Even though I’m coming out to his hometown, it’s more like, hey, you’re actually visiting my house.”

The Riverside, Calif., native is beaming with confidence as he prepares for the fight of his life against the red-hot Paiva, the East Providence, R.I., bantamweight who has won four in a row and eight of his last nine entering Friday.

Their five-round title bout headlines “CES MMA 50” on AXS TV, the promotion’s 50thshow since its inception in 2010. Paiva earning top billing is fitting considering he debuted at “CES MMA 6” in 2011 and has remained with the promotion ever since, regardless of losing streaks, coaching changes or the typical ebbs and flows that come with being a professional fighter.

Paiva considered walking away after losing five of his first eight fights, but reworked his inner circle and is now on the precipice of winning a world title, an unlikely storybook ending for a fighter who has sacrificed in and out of the gym to get to where he is today.

While Ewell is impressed with Paiva’s rise to stardom — “He definitely has heart and determination,” he said — the 30-year-old former professional boxer is intent on writing his own fairytale finish on the sport’s biggest stage. Winning a world title on AXS TV against the fan-favorite could provide the boost he needs to get to the next level.

“I already know he’s the superhero of Rhode Island,” Ewell said. “I’ve got to come into his territory and do what I do best. Coming into someone else’s backyard and proving you are the top dog is the best feeling in the world.

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“I know I’m the best fighter out there. This is going to be my doorway to the UFC. The next fight is definitely the most important fight. All I’ve got to do is do my job and perform.”

Tickets for “CES MMA 50” start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office. The preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card at 9.

Ewell is used to being out of his comfort zone, whether it’s in life or mixed martial arts. Growing up as the oldest in a family of nine, he and his siblings moved frequently from California to Texas and back again — four times, to be exact. Being the new kid at every school also forced him to keep his guard up.

“I was always fighting,” he said.

“Me being the oldest, I had to take on a bigger role in the family. I had to grow up a lot faster than most kids. Everything ended up molding me into an adult.”

Ewell wrestled as a youth, then transitioned to taekwondo and boxing. He eventually began his professional fighting career in the boxing ring at the age of 23 in 2011, but the “politics” of the sport drove him away. He was merely fodder for up-and-coming prospects supported financially by well-established promotors. He felt used and walked away from the sport in 2013.

Two years later, following the birth of his son, Eli, he switched to MMA and immediately felt at home.

“I pick things up fast, especially when I have people preaching to me,” Ewell said. “I ended up grasping it quickly.”

With no amateur bouts under his belt, Ewell won his first three fights as a pro before losing three of his next five. Since a split-decision loss to Ryan Lilley in February of 2017, he’s gone on a Paiva-like stretch with wins in seven of his last eight, including three in a row entering Friday.

The bright lights of AXS TV won’t be a factor; he recently fought on the network at Legacy Fighting Alliance 36, defeating Trent Meaux by first-round knockout.

Aside from being the visitor in Paiva’s hometown Friday, Ewell draws motivation from his upbringing, reminiscing about watching his parents put in long hours to provide for his family. He has also had custody issues with his son, now five years old, which motivates him even more to be the best he can be Friday night in what will be the biggest fight of his life.

“Growing up, watching my mom work, my pops always pushing me, I automatically see that grind,” he said. “We didn’t have everything, so that automatically makes you want to push and have something. When it comes to my son, everything, all the emotion, comes out in that moment.

“I know my whole background, how I was raised, where I come from. This is me. I want to be something better than I was yesterday.”

Having been through so much himself, Ewell respects Paiva for battling back despite his early struggles, but the camaraderie goes out the window once the bell rings Friday. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for both fighters and the winner moves one step closer toward achieving his goals.

“To take his record from being not so good and pushing it in the right direction, that’s a product of hard work and positivity, but now he’s meeting someone who works harder and is more dedicated,” Ewell said. “Everything will show inside that cage. He’s a cool cat. I especially like his nickname, but now it’s my lunchtime, because I’m hungry.”

Also highlighting “CES MMA 50,” Ludlow, Mass., welterweight Jon Manley (11-4, 2 KOs) battles Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells (4-1, 2 KOs) and Woonsocket, R.I., flyweight Jose Lugo (2-0, 1 KO) makes his network television debut in a rematch against Cortland, N.Y., native Michael Taylor (1-1, 1 KO).

Middleweight Pat McCrohan (3-1, 2 KOs) of Berkley, Mass., returns to face red-hot Worcester, Mass., prospect Reginaldo Felix (5-3, 2 KOs). Bantamweight John Douma (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence also debuts on the AXS TV platform in a highly-anticipated showdown against Nevada’s Adam Acquaviva (5-3, 1 KO). Also on the main card, female flyweight sensation Maria Rivera (2-0, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., puts her unbeaten record on the line against Mallory Martin (3-2, 1 KO) of Denver.

The preliminary card features a welterweight scrap between veteran Toby Oden (2-2, 1 KO) of Milford, Mass., and newcomer Jeremy Puglia of Long Island, who makes his professional debut. Decorated light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (1-0) returns to face Mansfield, Ohio, native Marquis Allen (1-0, 1 KO) and featherweight Brandon Marotte (1-0, 1 KO) of Hempstead, N.H., battles debut Arslan Otchiyev of West Haven, Conn.

Also on the preliminary card, Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (4-1, 2 KOs) makes his long-awaited return against New York’s Alfred Jones (3-3, 1 KO) and light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (1-0) of Fall River, Mass., faces David White (0-2) of Cumberland, Md. Flyweights Hilarie Rose (0-1) of Norfolk, Mass., and Thais Sousa (0-2) of Miami search for their first career victories against one another in a special female attraction.


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