Battered and bruised, Dubuque outworks Ghareeb to capture vacant featherweight crown

Dan Dubuque can finally add the title of CES MMA world champion to his resume.

After coming up short in his first attempt to win a world title in 2019, the Waterbury, CT, captured the gold last night at CES 70 live on UFC FIGHT PASS® at the MassMutual Center, defeating regional rival and former training partner Nathan Ghareeb by split decision for the vacant CES MMA featherweight championship.

In a wildly entertaining, back-and-forth fight that lived up to the billing, Dubuque’s experience may have been the difference. The 36-year-old veteran of 13 pro fights was cool, calm, and collected through all five rounds, battling through a bloody left shin and dominating on his feet to earn the 48-47, 48-47, 47-48 victory.

Dubuque, who lost to Bruce Boyington in his first attempt at winning the featherweight title three years ago, improved to 9-5 with Friday’s win. Ghareeb, the 28-year-old Southampton, MA, native, is now 6-2 with Friday’s loss snapping his four-fight win streak.

Dubuque hadn’t fought in more than years prior to this weekend, having taken time off to heal nagging injuries and launch his career outside of the cage. Facing a self-proclaimed MMA “nomad” who admittedly has dedicated his entire life to the sport, Dubuque never flinched, finding his footing in rounds 3 and 4 and holding off a strong surge from Ghareeb in the fifth to snap his own three-fight losing streak.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Adriano Moraes III to Headline ONE Championship U.S. On-Ground Debut on May 5 in Colorado

Ghareeb bloodied Dubuque’s shin with a perfectly-placed leg kick in the second round and appeared to be in control of the fight until Dubuque dug deep and began putting together more effective two- and three-punch combinations. An accidental finger poke to Ghareeb’s left eye nearly stopped the fight one minute into the fourth, but Ghareeb shook it off and responded in the fifth with a series of damaging body blows that nearly buckled Dubuque.

Judges Nick Mahmood and Bryan Miner scored it in favor of Dubuque, capping a wild night of action on combat sports’ largest streaming platform.

In the co-main event, the first sanctioned combat jiu jitsu bout in Massachusetts, Brazilian Gesias Calcavante of Florida beat Boston’s John “Doomsday” Howard in overtime.

Scheduled for one, 10-minute round of grappling with no standup striking – only open-handed strikes with either one or both fighter on the ground – the bout went into overtime, where each fighter had the opportunity to exchange finishes and escapes over the course of three separate two-minute rounds. Calcavante won by locking Howard in a guillotine attempt for the entire two minutes of the first overtime round and then escaping Howard’s submission attempt in 19 seconds. Calcavante also escaped in 9 seconds in the second overtime, effectively winning the fight by a significant time advantage.

Anatoly Malykhin Shocks Reinier de Ridder with Stunning TKO Finish to Capture ONE Light Heavyweight World Title

In what may have been the most surprising finish of the night, Seattle’s Albert Tadevosyan, a last-minute replace, submitted Springfield’s Pat Casey with 21 seconds remaining in the opening round via guillotine despite Casey dominating the entire round. Casey peppered Tadevosyan with everything in his arsenal and appeared headed to a quick win, but he left his neck exposed on a curious takedown attempt in the closing seconds and Tadevosyan wisely locked in the choke to earn the victory, a remarkable turn of events. Tadevosyan is now 8-3-1 while Casey fell to 9-6.

Other results from CES 70:

Lightweights: Ali Zebian (9-2), Springfield, def. Sam Watford (3-4), New Haven, CT, via unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Middleweights: Fran Collins (5-0), Worcester, MA, def. Mus’Aib Baiyina (0-2), Rochester, NY, via TKO 1:19 Round 3
Featherweights: Cody Zappone (3-2), Latham, NY, def. Kenny Champion (2-3), West Haven, CT, via rear-naked choke submission 4:40 Round 2
Flyweights: Casey Norton (2-0), Terryville, CT, def. Adrian Haly (1-2), via unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27