One of New England’s biggest success stories returns to the platform that helped launch his mixed martial arts career.
Five-time UFC veteran Yorgan De Castro (6-3, 5 KOs) – born and raised in Cape Verde, and now fighting out of Fall River, MA – headlines CES MMA 63 live on UFC FIGHT PASS® on Friday, August 6, the first of back-to-back events that weekend at the MGM Springfield promoted by regional giant CES MMA.
Fighting for the first time since April, De Castro aims to get back into the win column when he faces hard-hitting heavyweight Rakim Cleveland (21-13, 13 KOs) of Iowa, who makes his long-awaited CES MMA debut more than two years after a scheduled bout with Parker Porter was scrapped shortly before CES 55 in 2019. CES 63 also marks the long-awaited return of 14-time UFC and six-time CES MMA vet John “Doomsday” Howard (28-16, 10 KOs) of Boston, who makes his first appearance with the promotion since 2017 in a welterweight bout against Huntington Beach’s Ozzie Alvarez (8-6, 2 KOs).
Tickets for CES 63 are available online at CESFights.com. CES 63 streams live on FIGHT PASS beginning at 8 pm ET with play-by-play announcer Michael Parente (@MichaelParente) and color commentator Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon), a 27-time UFC vet, and FUN 107 on-air personality and cageside correspondent Madelyn Grimaldi (@maddieonair).
CES 63 is the promotion’s first event in its home base of New England since CES 61 in October of 2020. De Castro makes his fourth appearance with the promotion, stepping into the CES MMA cage for the first time since CES 54 when he defeated veteran Carlton Little by unanimous decision to improve to 4-0.
Five months later, De Castro seized the opportunity of a lifetime, defeating Alton Meeks by knockout in Week 1 of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to earn a four-fight contract with the UFC – a meteoric rise for an MMA late bloomer who had only begun his pro career two years prior.
De Castro’s run with the UFC featured its up and downs, from postponements, cancelations, and a layoffs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to a well-deserved $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus after flattening Justin Tafa in just 2 minutes, 10 seconds at UFC 243 in Australia. The last few years have brought De Castro everywhere from Abu Dhabi to Nevada, but there’s no place like home – New England, to be exact – where the 33-year-old heavyweight is 4-0 in his pro career, including a 3-0 record with CES MMA.
Following a year-long run with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) – a promotion in which fighters compete in a regular season, post-season, and championship format – and a dormant 2020 due to the pandemic, Cleveland is back in business in what could be an important showcase bout on the FIGHT PASS platform.
The 32-year-old veteran ended his COVID layoff in March and April with back-to-back wins on the regional circuit and was scheduled to face Cage Fury Fighting Championships title-holder Jamelle Jones at CFFC 96in May on FIGHT PASS, but a last-minute illness forced him to withdraw from the bout. Having faced the likes of Bellator vet Houston Alexander, UFC heavyweight contender Tanner Boser, and UFC light heavyweight Maxim Grishin during his decade-long career, Cleveland is hopeful a win over De Castro in front of FIGHT PASS’ wide-ranging audience could land him an opportunity with one of the sport’s major promotions.
Also on the main card, unbeaten New Britain, CT, bantamweight Carlos Candelario (7-0, 2 KOs) puts his win streak on the line against the tough Miguel Restrepo (5-5, 3 KOs) of Brooklyn, and West Haven, CT, lightweight Eddy George (2-0, 2 KOs), one of the region’s most electrifying prospects, faces unbeaten Kobe Bowen (2-0) of Barbados. Bantamweight Ashiek Ajim (3-1, 2 KOs) makes his fifth appearance with the promotion in a showdown with Tampa’s Carlos Espinosa (6-4, 2 KOs); fellow bantamweight Will Smith (3-3, 1 KO) returns to face Albany’s Chris Disonell (5-4, 1 KO); and lightweight Kenny Champion (2-1, 2 KOs), also of West Haven, makes his CES MMA debut against Albany’s Frank Mazepa (0-1).
Several CES MMA newcomers also make their long-awaited promotional debuts August 6. Lightweight Miguel Cuevas of Springfield faces Vermont’s Kody Murray in the pro debut for both fighters while featherweight Nick Fiore (1-0, 1 KO) of Haverhill, NH, battles New York’s Shaquan Moore (1-3). Featherweight Tom Pagliarulo (1-0) of Haverhill, MA, faces debuting Josh Hardy of Vermont and fellow featherweight Sage Philippe of Ludlow, MA, battles Connecticut’s Thad Jean.
CES 63 is the first of two events scheduled that weekend at MGM Springfield. CES Boxing returns the following night with reigning WBC USNBC Silver Super Middleweight Champion Kendrick Ball Jr. (16-1-2, 11 KOs) defends his title against Meridian, MS, challenger Tyi Edmonds (14-3, 9 KOs) in the main event.
Visit CESFights.com for more information and follow CES MMA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @CESMMA. Updates on CES Boxing can also be found on Facebook in addition to Instagram and Twitter by following @CESBoxing.