With new goals to achieve, De Castro makes long-awaited return to CES MMA

The crowd Yorgan De Castro fights in front of this Sunday in Providence won’t compare to the gathering of 57,000-plus in Australia at his second UFC fight in 2019, but the pressure will be the same, if not even more intense.

After a wild, six-fight ride with the world’s largest MMA promotion, De Castro (6-3), a product of Fall River, MA, finally returns home this weekend at CES MMA 65, facing hard-hitting heavyweight Danyelle Williams (8-6-1) of Minnesota in the main event live on UFC FIGHT PASS®.

CES 65 takes place at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, roughly 20 minutes – on a good day – from where he grew up in Massachusetts after moving to the United States nearly a decade ago. That means family, friends, and teammates will pack the PCTA this weekend ready to explode when their fighter makes his walk to the cage, creating an entirely form of pressure unlike anything else combatants experience once that bell rings.

“Fighting in front of my hometown fans, this is special to me,” said the 33-year-old De Castro. “I’m very excited, but it’s definitely a different kind of pressure. It’s going to be crazy on fight night, but I’m ready. I’ve been putting in the work.”

The De Castro-Williams bout headlines a stacked, 11-fight card that begins with a special 4 pm start time Sunday afternoon. Also fighting at CES 65, PFL and World Series of Fighting vet and former world champion Andre Harrison (21-2, 3 KOs) of Long Island makes his CES MMA debut against Brazilian Mauro Chaulet (14-7, 5 KOs) and Queens bantamweight Ashiek Ajim (4-1, 3 KOs) battles Carlos Espinosa (5-4, 2 KOs) of Tampa.

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Tickets are available online at CESFights.com. The FIGHT PASS stream begins at 4 with play-by-play announcer Michael Parente (@MichaelParente) calling the action alongside color commentators Joe Lauzon (@JoeLauzon), a 27-time UFC veteran, and “Sweetbread” Dinis Paiva (@Sweetbread135), former world-title challenger and the longest-tenured fighter in CES MMA history.

Like most MMA fighters, De Castro dreamt of making it to the UFC, but never envisioned it would happen so quickly. After racing out to a 4-0 start, with three of those fights under CES’ guidance, De Castro got the call in 2019 to appear on Dana White’s Contender Series – only two years after his pro debut.

“Thirty-one years old, and they call me. I wish I had more fights under my belt,” De Castro says, “but you can’t say no to the UFC.”

As expected, De Castro answered the call and thrived under the bright lights, knocking out Sanford Alton Meeks. He earned another shot four months later at UFC 243 in Melbourne and responded with a first-round knockout win over Justin Tafa.

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The opportunities kept coming. De Castro appeared on three more UFC events in the next 11 months, all big-ticket fights against top UFC contenders, including a showdown with ex-NFL standout Greg Hardy at UFC 249. Not every fight went the way he had hoped, but De Castro chalked it up as a learning experience; he still feels he belongs at that level, but admits he could use additional experience in the cage before he makes another run at the top of his division.

“I don’t regret anything,” he said. “Four fights into my career, I was in the UFC, and not a lot of fighters can say that. I fought some really good guys at that level and learned from it. Now I get the chance to come back here and prove I belong.”

De Castro now has his sights set on what he calls a “personal goal” – winning the CES MMA World Heavyweight Championship. The belt is currently vacant, last held by Greg Rebello, who defended it at CES 60 in January of 2020 before the pandemic shut down most promotions for the remainder of the year.

With a win Sunday against a dangerous, hard-hitting opponent, De Castro could get his shot sooner rather than later.

“When I was younger, my goal was to get to the UFC. Then I got there and had nowhere else to go,” De Castro said. “Now I have different plans. I am super motivated to be a CES MMA champion, and FIGHT PASS is the place to – lots of eyes, a lot of people will be watching. I’m in the right spot.”

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Also at CES 65, hometown favorite John Douma (5-2, 2 KOs) of Providence faces bantamweight Tristan Lindi (2-2, 2 KOs) of Ohio, and middleweight Pat McCrohan (4-3, 3 KOs) of Berkley, MA, returns from a two-year layoff against Hugh McKenna (3-4) of Long Island.

Fresh off a big knockout win at CES 64 in September, lightweight Nate Ghareeb of Southampton, MA, battles David Bollea (5-2) of Las Vegas while flyweight Matt Almy (4-4, 1 KO) of Binghamton, NY, faces Springfield’s Tim Flores (2-1). The preliminary card features a bantamweight showdown between pro debut Ryan Pompey of Providence and Dru Davis-Henry (0-2) of Hawaii in addition to Providence featherweight Tyrime Da Silva making his professional debut against Josh Hardy (0-1) of Vermont. Fall River featherweight Aaron Hughes (1-1, 1 KO) faces Rakim Thorpe (0-1) of Georgia and teammate Kideby Gordon, also of Fall River, debuts against fellow newcomer Richard Paban in a bantamweight bout.

Visit CESFights.com for more information and follow CES MMA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @CESMMA. Updates on CES MMA can also be found on Facebook in addition to Instagram and Twitter by following @CESMMA.

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