LEWISTON – Thursday night’s Bellator 93 mixed martial arts 10-fight card will bring more worldwide MMA brand recognition to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

But it already has proven to be an MMA hot spot.

Just a month ago, Lewiston-based New England Fights put on its fifth show in the state in a little more than 12 months and drew a crowd over 3,000. The total gate for the five shows exceeds 15,000.

Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney, a former sports agent who worked in Leigh Steinberg’s California agency, took notice of Maine’s burgeoning infatuation with the combat sport. So did one of his primary sponsors.

“The National Guard gave us about five states they wanted to go to and Maine was one of them,” Rebney said. “Now Maine’s looking like a repetitive home the way tickets are going.”

On Wednesday, Bellator director of public relations Anthony Mazzuca said about 200 tickets (ranging in price from $40-$125) remained.

Bellator MMA has carved out its space in the sport’s top tier — one floor below the UFC penthouse — with a tournament-based format.

Thursday’s main event is the Season 7 Lightweight (156-pound) final between Marcin Held (15-2), a 21-year-old Polish submission hold specialist, and 33-year-old Dave Jansen (18-2) of Corbett, Ore.

Three fights will be shown live on Spike TV, starting at 10 p.m.: Held vs. Jansen; a heavyweight fight between Ryan Martinez (8-2-0) of Greeley, Colo., and Travis Wiuff (68-15-0) of Rochester, Minn.; and the in-state draw of former UFC fighter Marcus Davis of Bangor (21-9-0) against Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-11-1).

A fourth scheduled TV bout between heavyweights Eric Prindle and Brett Rogers was canceled due to an injury to Prindle.

The seven-fight undercard, available for free on spike.com, begins at 8 p.m.

Many bouts feature Maine-based fighters who have honed their skills through New England Fights shows.

NEF middleweight champ Jesse Peterson of Rumford (7-3), a former state champion wrestler at Mountain Valley and collegiate wrestler at the University of Southern Maine, will face Dave Vitky (12-11) of Atlanta.

Lewiston product Brent Dillingham will make his professional debut against Mike Mucitelli (4-0) of Syracuse, N.Y., in a light heavyweight bout. Dillingham is 4-0 in amateur MMA fights.

Bellator is touting the organizational debut of welterweight Michael Page, a kickboxing World Champion. Page (3-0 in MMA) will face Ryan Sanders (4-3) of Brewer.

Also on the card: featherweights Vince Murdock (1-0) vs. John Raio (0-1) of Gardiner; middleweights Pierre Pierry (3-2) vs. Joe Pachecho (5-0); middleweights Jason Butcher (5-0) vs. Jack Hermansson (5-1); and lightweights Jesse Erickson (0-0) of Auburn vs. Jon Lemke (1-0) of Bangor.

Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

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