Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Steve Craig firstname.lastname@example.org
This Saturday marks a milestone for the Lewiston-based New England Fights when its 10th mixed martial arts show gets underway at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
It may also be a test of the product's long-term sustainability.
With 27 scheduled fights (12 pro bouts, 15 amateur), NEF X sticks to promoters Mark Peterson and Nick DiSalvo's method of providing a large number of fights at relatively low cost (tickets started at $25).
Peterson said Thursday 3,000 tickets have been put on sale. Doors open at 3 p.m., with the first amateur fight starting at 4 p.m.
"The response has been really strong and we're expecting our typical Lewiston NEF crowd of between 2,500 and 3,000. Tickets are going fast," Peterson said.
Jimmy Quinlan, a participant in the UFC reality show The Ultimate Fighter, is NEF X's biggest draw, with a 3-1 pro record. He will meet Californian Luc Bondole (2-0) in a 185-pound fight.
"The reason Jimmy Quinlan hasn't had more fights is no one will get in the cage with him. They all know he's an extremely high-class grappler," Peterson said.
Peterson and DiSalvo expected to hype Wood (4-0), the organization's featherweight champion, against up-and-comer Joe Pingitore (4-0-1) out of Rhode Island. But Wood tore his ACL in the NEF show in August on the Bangor waterfront.
"As far as the card taking a hit, we always try to build these really robust cards. Injuries can happen. It's all but a given in this sport," Peterson said.
The main event now pits Jon Lemke (3-1) from Team Irish in Bangor against John Ortolani (7-7) of Billerica, Mass., fighting for the Maine State Lightweight title that was vacated when Green signed with Bellator.
Lemke has not lost at 155 pounds as a pro or amateur. Ortolani is the faceoff specialist for the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse, after spending four seasons as a reserve with the Boston Cannons.
In another pro fight, Ryan Sanders (4-4) of Bangor will be trying to stop a three-match losing streak. He hasn't been in the cage since being knocked out in 10 seconds at the Bellator show. Sanders is facing another 4-4 fighter in Rashaun Spencer who has not fought in 18 months since being knocked out in Atlanta on a card called Tabernacle Fight Party.
"Ryan Sanders (has) headlined the biggest cards we've ever had," Peterson said. "All our biggest cards he's been a part of. Maybe there are no star-studded names but we're a regional promotion and we're trying to build our guys to reach that next level."
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: