Over at Patrick’s Pub this past Friday, the air crackled with excitement as CES MMA threw down the gauntlet for a knockout evening slated for February 23 at the grandiose Foxwoods Resort Casino, affectionately dubbed “The Wonder of it All,” nestled in Mashantucket, CT.
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Topping the bill, the fresh CES MMA Middleweight World Champ, Gary “Batman” Balletto Jr. (sporting a record of 8-3), is gearing up to clinch a world title in another division. He’s throwing down the gauntlet to Pat “The Gorilla Ninja” Casey (hailing from Springfield, MA with a tally of 10-7), aiming to lay claim to the vacant CES MMA Welterweight crown.
Balletto Jr. previously clinched his middleweight crown right in his backyard in Cranston, RI last July, putting James Cannon to bed with a rare naked choke in the second round, much to the thrill of his local cheer squad.
Fast forward six months, and Batman is diving back into the fray, eyeing a world title in a new weight division. Facing off against Casey, a dynamo and ex-Bellator brawler known for his no-holds-barred approach, Balletto Jr. is up against a contender thirsty for his first taste of professional gold.
“Round two, folks,” Balletto Jr. couldn’t contain his glee, addressing the jam-packed crowd. “Thrilled to bits to be sharing the spotlight with Pat. The guy’s got a solid fan base and knows how to put on a show. This is the real deal.”
As Casey stepped up, the air was thick with mutual admiration.
“We’re a couple of jack-of-all-trades,” Casey chimed in, reminiscing about his gridiron days at American International College before jumping into the MMA ring. “This brawl could swing any way, and it’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. We’ve got all the moves to end it, and I can’t see this not turning into a barn burner for as long as it lasts.”
The undercard isn’t pulling any punches either, with ex-UFC heavyweight Yorgan DeCastro (toting a 9-5 record) squaring off against Eric Smith (7-7). DeCastro, the Cape Verde sensation from Fall River, MA, boasts a flawless record in his four skirmishes under the CES MMA banner.
“I’ve yet to meet a heavyweight from New England who can hold a candle to me,” DeCastro boasted, all pumped up. “But, enough talk. Come February 23, it’s showtime.”
Eric Smith, stepping into the CES MMA octagon for the first time after making the rounds in the California fight circuit, is all fired up to leave a mark with a career-defining victory.
Not to be overlooked, “The Russian Polar Bear,” Yuri Panferov (6-1), is roaring back into the CES MMA cage, aiming to rebound from his sole career setback on ‘Dana White’s Contender Series’ last October. Panferov, undefeated in CES MMA with a 4-0 streak, is going toe-to-toe with middleweight veteran Rocky “The Number” Edwards in what promises to be a clash of the titans.
Rounding out the night are four additional bouts, including the eagerly awaited professional debut of Lucas Rosa from Peabody, MA. Training in the sunny climes of Boca Raton, FL alongside his big bro Charles Rosa, this Wheaton College alum and former amateur standout (boasting a 10-1 record) is tipped for greatness. Rosa’s stepping into the ring against fellow newbie Leslie Summers in a featherweight showdown that’s sure to have fists flying and fans roaring.