LEWISTON – Marcus Davis had allowed in a quick aside on Friday that he hated to battle tall fighters.
On Saturday in front of a home-state crowd, the 39-year-old star of the mixed martial arts game struggled to find a definitive answer against just such a fighter. What he did do was enough to earn a unanimous decision at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Darius Heyliger used his 4-inch height advantage and some strong defense to keep Davis from unloading any of the shots that earned him the nickname “The Irish Hand Grenade.”
But Davis came away with the victory in a fight contested at 170 pounds and is now 22-9. Heyliger, who trains in Ithaca, N.Y., is 5-2.
Heyliger opened up a cut over Davis’ right eye late in the first round and probably landed the firmest blow of the second round with a front kick.
Davis often charged forward and was able to pin Heyliger against the cage walls, but he struggled to find an avenue to either bring his opponent to the floor or attempt a submission hold. Heyliger’s height also precluded much use of knees to the midsection, lest Davis be called for a low blow.
In a Maine state lightweight bout, Dez Green used his reach advantage to dominate from the start against former UFC fighter Henry Martinez, who now lives in Maine. The fight was stopped 1:50 into the second round.
The Maine heavyweight title was won by Tyler King (6-1) of Norwood, Mass. He put an arm triangle submission hold on former Dexter resident Travis Bartlett (8-4), and the bout was called at 3:24 of the first period.
In another pro fight, Jon Lemke (3-0) of Bangor delivered a punishing second-round TKO of George Reagan of Jacksonville, Fla.
“I was pretty confident I could land that kick, or at least get him thinking about it, to set up the hands,” Lemke said.
Former Deering High wrestler Tommy Balzano, 26, ended his fight in 2:10 with a hard knee direct to Jimmy Alexander’s head. Balzano is 1-1 as a professional.
“I brought the knee up and drove his head into it,” Balzano said.
Jesse Erickson, 25, of Auburn also gained his first pro win, using an arm bar to submit Josh Parker (4-6) of Skowhegan in 51 seconds.
“I don’t care whether the guy’s had 10 fights or one fight, he’s in there to hurt me and I’ve got to try to stop him from doing that and get that paycheck,” Erickson said.
Ray Wood improved his pro record to 3-0 with a second-round tap-out on an arm bar against Ahsan Abdullah of Ithaca, N.Y. Jarod Lawton (3-1) pulled out an arm-bar submission late in the third round after absorbing punishment from Cody Anderson (1-2) of Nashua, N.H.
Matt Almy defeated Ernesto Ornelas of Portland by TKO in 1:00.
Highlights of the 22-fight amateur card included 20-year-old Andrew Tripp (5-0) of North Waterboro scoring an emphatic submission 66 seconds into the first round against Steven Prue of Gainesville, Fla., in a 170-pound match.
“That fight, that was a tribute to my jiu jitsu and the coaching I’ve received from Chris Kramer,” Tripp said. “Being able to flow from different positions and not being afraid.”
Tripp was one of 16 Team Irish fighters representing the gyms owned by Davis.
Another impressive Team Irish amateur performance came from Kevin Smallwood of Bangor. His leg kicks, knees and fists stopped Brandon Traknis of New Gloucester with a first-round TKO.
The other dominant MMA gym represented Saturday was Central Maine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu out of Auburn. With Erickson’s pro win, CMBJJ fighters were 6-2.