Lewiston, Maine (September 16, 2013) – This Saturday afternoon and evening, September 21, New England Fights Mixed Martial Arts (NEF MMA) presents the fight promotion’s tenth live event, “NEF X,” at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. The fight card is currently scheduled to feature more than two dozen bouts. The headline match will see the crowning of a new Maine State MMA Lightweight Champion when Bangor’s Jon Lemke (3-1) meets John Ortolani (7-7) inside the cage.
“This is a landmark event for the ‘little promotion that could,'” stated NEF MMA matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson. “What started as two guys who love fight sports meeting two years ago and deciding to put on a single event has turned into one of the most successful regional promotions in the country.”
Peterson, the Maine state representative for District 92, is referring to his joining forces with Massachusetts attorney Nick DiSalvo in the fall of 2011 to plan their first MMA event in Lewiston. The duos’ first event, which took place on February 11, 2012, drew more than 3,200 fans to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, smashing the state’s attendance record for an MMA event by some 1,400 tickets. Since that time, the promotion has held eight more events, the majority of which took place in Lewiston, with another two in Biddeford and the promotion’s debut in Bangor at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion this past July. Over that period of time, more than 25,000 fight fans have flocked through the gates of NEF MMA events.
“It’s humbling to think back to my first events in Massachusetts when I struggled to put 500 fans in a venue,” said DiSalvo. “I’m still in awe at what we’ve done in Maine. The fans are just the best. They really appreciate what the fighters do in the cage. The same can be said of the press in Maine. You have reporters who treat the fighters and the sport with the respect they deserve. You don’t get that everywhere for MMA. It’s something special here, as it should be. We had affiliates of all the major television networks covering us almost around the clock for fight week in Bangor this summer. I never even dreamed of mainstream media coverage like that for a regional promotion.”
Over the course of the first ten events, NEF MMA brought fans: Former UFC World Heavyweight Champion Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia’s (31-8) first fight ever in his home state; a Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-9) main event; the crowning of seven Maine State MMA champions; national coverage on AXS TV, Spike TV, and a four-part series on TUFF TV; two viral videos with several million views online; and a co-promotion with top-tier MMA promotion Bellator in Lewiston.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Peterson of putting the events together. “Until you’ve actually done this, you can’t really appreciate how many hours go into each show. Nick and I work from dusk to dawn and then from dawn to dusk. That’s every day from the end of the previous show right up until the time the first fight goes off at the next event. It’s a labor of love. It’s all about making the best possible experience for the fans and fighters. Nick and I are fans first and promoters second. We try our best to put on what we would want to see as fans. We still keep our ticket prices extremely low and we give fans hours of entertainment each time they come out. We believe strongly that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for quantity and vice versa. We believe the fans should be able to have their cake and eat it too.”
What is next for NEF MMA beyond NEFX?
“Everything bigger and better,” answered DiSalvo when the question was put to him. “We improve a little more every show. We’re constantly adding to the production. One thing we’d really like to lock down is a regular television deal. We did the mini-season on TUFF TV last year, but we’re looking for something more long-term. The wheels are turning, constantly turning, and many calls are being logged. We’re just waiting for the right fit.”
And what about NEF MMA branching out into other states?
“That’s always a consideration,” said Peterson. “When you put 3,000 people in an arena, you start to catch the eye of a lot of venues. Sure, we get calls on it, but we need the right deal to make it work. Whether we do shows in other states or not, Lewiston will always be our home, and the fans here can expect to see NEF MMA action on a regular basis no matter what the future brings.”
NEF MMA’s next event, “NEF X,” is scheduled to take place this Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. Tickets start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com. The card will feature a 155-pound bout between Jon Lemke (3-1) and John Ortolani (7-7) to fill the recently vacated Maine State Lightweight Championship. In addition, UFC veteran Jimmy “Crash” Quinlan (3-1) will face Luc Bondole (2-0). For more information on the event and the full fight card, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com. In addition, you can watch NEF MMA videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”