Howard, Candelario earn impressive wins at CES MMA 63

Making his long-awaited return to the CES MMA cage, John “Doomsday” Howard dominated almost all 15 minutes of Friday’s main event on UFC FIGHT PASS® to earn his 29th career win.

Howard (29-16), the Boston, MA, native, defeated Ozzie Alvarez (8-7) of Sacramento at CES 63 at MGM Springfield, 29-28, 29-27, 29-26. The outcome was never in doubt as Howard took Alvarez to the canvas in each of the first two rounds and simply controlled the pace throughout aside from a few fleeting moments.

Down two rounds, Alvarez actually scored a takedown of his own in the third, but couldn’t build on the momentum as Howard eventually scrambled to his feet to finish the fight. Though he sought the finish, Howard maintained a near flawless pace Friday and kept his perfect record with CES MMA intact; the promotion’s former middleweight world title-holder is now 7-0 in the CES MMA cage.

In a thrilling rematch of their fight at CES 41, New Britain, CT, bantamweight Carlos Candelario (8-0) again defeated Miguel Restrepo (5-5) of Brooklyn by unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27, in a fight much closer than the scores indicated.

Candelario and Restrepo went back and forth for three hard rounds, showing no signs of rust despite the fact they hadn’t fought since 2017 and 2018, respectively. Each fighter had his moments, but Candelario scored key takedowns at the right moments and rarely found himself in danger, save for a brief moment in the second round.

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Restrepo, who lost by submission the first time these two met, showed tremendous mettle throughout the fight, slipping out of several submission attempts and even taking his turn as the aggressor. In the end, Candelario did just enough to earn the win, ending a frustrating four-year stretch that featured surgeries, setbacks, and, of course, a global pandemic that temporarily delayed his progress.

After a brief feeling-out process in the opening round, Albany, NY, bantamweight Chris Disonell (6-4) made New Haven’s Will Smith (3-4) pay the price for keeping his hands a bit low, delivering a one-two combo that promptly ended the fight at the 3:38 mark.

Disonell saw an opening, clipped Smith with a left hook to the chin, then followed with a right to the temple, sending Smith crashing to the canvas. A series of hammer fists officially ended the bout, giving Disonell his fifth win in his last seven fights and his first with CES MMA.

In a classic wrestler vs. striker matchup in the featherweight division, the wrestler came out on top as Kody Murray (1-0) of Vermont bulldozed his way into the pro ranks with a big win over Spencer, MA, native Miguel Cuevas (1-1).

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Murray scored an immediate takedown and then put his wrestling acumen to use, submitting Cuevas via arm triangle 44 seconds into the opening round.

One of the hottest prospects in New England MMA, lightweight Eddy George of Milford, CT, improved to 3-0 with his third career knockout win after holding off an early surge by his opponent, Tony Jackson (0-1) of North Carolina.

Jackson came out as the aggressor and for a brief moment had George in an unenviable position as he tried to lock in a guillotine, but George calmly slipped out, gained mount, and pounded away at Jackson with a series of unanswered elbows and hammer fists. Jackson absorbed some, but not all, of the damage, but also failed to retaliate, forcing the referee to stop the bout at the 2:06 mark of the opening round.

In the opening bout on FIGHT PASS, New York’s Ashiek Ajim (4-1) wasted no time securing his fourth career win, stopping Hawaii’s Richard Barnard (2-7) 34 seconds into the opening round with a series of unanswered elbows and hammer fists.

Ajim dropped Barnard with a quick left hand, then immediately poured it on as Barnard tucked his head into his chest and covered up to minimize the damage. Ajim rebounded from his first and only loss as a pro, which he suffered in October at the hands of now-UFC bantamweight Kris Moutinho.

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Scoring one of the most impressive knockouts of the night, featherweight Tom Pagliarulo (2-0) of Haverhill, MA, made a huge splash in his FIGHT PASS debut, flattening Vermont’s Josh Hardy (0-1) with a killer right hand at the 1:59 mark of the opening round. Hardy tried to throw a rear-leg kick, but Pagliarulo caught it with his left hand, then drilled Hardy with a right cross on the chin. Hardy was unconscious before he hit the canvas, and Pagliarulo quickly had his second knockout in as many fights.

In preliminary action, lightweight Nick Fiore (2-0) of Sandown, NH, defeated Milwaukee’s Jay Ellis via rear naked choke at 1:29 of the opening round, featherweight Nate Ghareeb (3-1) scored a knockout win over Detroit’s Dajun Robinson (5-0) at the 5:00 mark of the first round, and featherweight Thad Jean (1-0) of Broward County, FL, earned the win in his pro debut over fellow newcomer Sage Philippe (0-1) of West Springfield via rear naked choke at 3:59 of the third and final round.


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