As one of the founding fathers of the CES MMA brand, bantamweight Dinis Paiva has arguably grown more, both personally and professionally, than anyone who’s stepped through those cage doors over the past seven years.
With a full-time job as a supervisor, a wife at home, and the desire to one day start a family of his own, Paiva is juggling more than just fight night strategy and sparring sessions. He doesn’t need to fight — he does it because he wants to — yet he continues to make the sacrifices all fighters must make in order to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
“You have to find a way in order to succeed,” said Paiva (9-6, 5 KOs), the East Providence, R.I., native who returns to the cage for the first time since January on the main card of “CES MMA 46” Friday, Oct. 27th, 2017from Twin River Casino.
“Between work, sparring, training, I put in close to 60 hours a week. My wife is the one who suffers the most, but it’s part of the sacrifice. It’s part of my story. It’s part of who I am.”
Tickets for “CES MMA 46” are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
The irony is Paiva, now 29, is a better fighter now than he was as a 23-year-old up-and-comer when he debuted with CES MMA on the promotion’s sixth show in June of 2011. Making his 16th appearance with the promotion later this month in a nationally-televised bout against Brandon Seyler (7-5, 1 KO) on AXS TV, Paiva has endured almost every peak and valley that comes with being a professional fighter.
He lost three of his first four fights, including an unfortunate disqualification when he inadvertently kneed a grounded opponent, then won his next two to even his record, only to drop two more in 2013.
The following year, Paiva switched coaches, opting to work with veteran Mike Gresh from Cape Cod Fighting Alliance, won both of his fights and earned the award for New England’s Most Improved Fighter, igniting a four-fight win streak that ultimately thrust him into the AXS TV in a win over Matt Doherty at “CES MMA 27.”
A loss to Kody Nordby in 2015 broke Paiva’s career-best win streak and, more importantly, brought him down a peg, teaching him to refrain from getting too ahead of himself either during unprecedented success or unexpected failure. Nordby actually helped Paiva prepare for Paiva’s return bout at “CES MMA 40,” a knockout win over Zane Behrend.
“It goes to show you that’s how this sport brings people together,” Paiva said.
“Every fighter in the world, we’re all a work in progress. There’s no such thing as a perfect fighter,” he continued. “The sport is constantly changing. Guys like [UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson] are now turning a suplex into an armbar. That’s just some of the mind-boggling stuff you see now, and now you’re going to see every guy in camp trying to suplex guys into an armbar.”
As much as Paiva has changed inside the cage, life outside the lines has been a whirlwind over the past few years. He got married in 2016, then returned to his old job at Morris Maintenance the day he and his wife got back from their honeymoon. Paiva started at the company years ago as a third-shift janitor and is now the Director of Warehousing and Maintenance, a position that requires him to travel throughout New England as a supervisor.
Much like his MMA career, the job has had its ups and downs through the years, but Paiva stuck with it, often sacrificing sleep and family time to continue chasing a greater goal.
“Work and MMA, they coexist,” Paiva said. “I’ve accomplished a lot through the years in both. I haven’t always been the top dog, but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I have to offer. I always want to be the best version of myself.”
Hitting the gym after work and unloading on the heavy bag helps Paiva relieve some of the stress associated with his job, but the sport, despite all its flaws, continues to lure back into the spotlight. He’s thought of retiring – he even contemplated it after losing to Nordby – but still can’t walk away, not because he needs to the money, but because he genuinely loves the thrill of competition and wants to chase a title at 135 pounds.
“That’s what sets me apart. I don’t have to fight,” said Paiva, who was supposed to fight in August, but suffered a fractured foot that postponed his appearance at “CES MMA 45.”
As for making a run at a title, Paiva said, “It’s time.” He’s fighting Seyler at 145, but has no problem committing to 135 in order to fight for a belt. Seyler is a tough opponent, coming off a big win over previously unbeaten Kris Moutinho at “CES MMA 45,” but Paiva has struck that delicate balance between MMA and his full-time job, managing to successfully juggle both while preparing for yet another televised bout on MMA’s biggest stage.
“Putting my foot on the gas pedal now is what will get me to where I eventually want to be,” Paiva said. “This is a great matchup. I’m going in there throwing bombs. He’s going to get the best version of me.”
The main event of “CES MMA 46” features the return of former CES MMA Middleweight World Champion “Doomsday” John Howard (24-13, 9 KOs) of Boston, who faces submission specialist Roger Carroll (16-14) of Claremont, N.C.
“CES MMA 46” also features the return of rising welterweight prospect Gary Balletto Jr. (4-1, 2 KOs) of Cranston, R.I., who battles Philadelphia’s Sharif Jones (3-2, 1 KO), plus the long-awaited professional debut of Oyster Bay, N.Y., welterweight John Gotti III in a three-round bout against Johnny Adams (0-1) of Rutland, Vt.
Lightweight Josh LaBerge (11-6, 5 KOs) of Fall River, Mass., returns to face Jonathan Lemke (6-8, 5 KOs) of Auburn, Maine, and bantamweight Rico DiSciullo (7-1, 3 KOs) of Peabody, Mass., faces Justin King (6-5) of Lawrence, Ind. Justin Sumter (3-1, 2 KOs) of New Haven, Conn., returns in a lightweight bout against Rahway, N.J., vet Shedrick Goodridge (6-9, 2 KOs).
Also returning Oct. 27th, Providence featherweight Marquis Brewster (3-0) battles Raymond Yanez (4-11, 1 KO) of Marion, Ohio, and featherweight Pat McCrohan (2-1, 1 KO) of Berkley, Mass., faces Buck Pineau (1-3) of Ashland, Maine.