CES MMA 22 goes down this Friday night at Twin River Casino, and the card features several UFC veterans, along with a five-round title fight to crown the first ever CES MMA heavyweight champion. The main event is a lightweight fight between seven-fight UFC veteran Drew Fickett (42-20) and Rhode Island native Luis Felix (10-7), and the heavyweight title fight features Team Sityodtong’s John Johnston (5-0) vs. one-fight UFC vet Josh Hendricks (19-9-1). Cape Cod Fighting Alliance’s Chip Moraza-Pollard (7-6) takes on Tom Egan (7-4) in a middleweight fight, and TUF 13 contestant Chuck O’Neil (12-6) will be taking on Roger Carroll (12-10) in a welterweight fight. The show features a lot of guys looking to break away from the pack and establish themselves as some of the best fighters in the Northeast. Fightline.com will be on-hand for all the action and you can follow me (Mike Wellman) on twitter for live updates on fight night.
The nine-fight card kicks off with a featherweight fight between Broadway Jiu-Jitsu’s Kyle Bochniak (1-0) and Marius Enache (1-2). Bochniak made his pro debut in January at CES 21, and won via first-round rear-naked choke against Peter Bertucci, and Enache is on a two-fight losing streak.
Next up will be a welterweight fight between Warwick, RI’s Tom Venticinque (0-1) and Springfield, MA’s Rick Rivera (0-0), who will be making his pro debut.
Strikeforce veteran Josh Laberge (8-4) returns to mixed martial arts, after a three-year absence to face Philadelphia, PA’s Steve McCabe. Laberge is on a six-fight winning streak, and his last fight was a first-round TKO over Anthony Leone in Strikeforce in 2011. McCabe went 1-2 in three fights last year, and is currently riding a two-fight skid.
CES 22 will also feature a 140-pound fight between Bellator MMA veterans Robert Sullivan (3-1) and Brandon Fleming (3-2). Sullivan trains out of Baltimore BJJ and is looking for his third win in a row, after a decision win over Dinis Paiva at CES in August, and one over Sergio da Silva at Bellator 108 in November. Fleming trains at South Shore Sport Fighting and is the current Reality Fighting featherweight champion, winning the title in November against Erik Lee. Prior to that he lost back-to-back decisions to two of the Northeast’s best featherweights, Rob Font and Des Green.
Undefeated featherweight Charles Rosa (7-0) returns to the CES cage on Friday, when he faces Bellator veteran Brylan van Artsdalen (8-9). This will be Rosa’s fourth fight in CES, and he last fought just over a month ago, where he extended his unbeaten streak to seven, with a second-round TKO over Keith Richardson. Van Artsdalen has only been victorious in one of his last six fights, and is looking to end a three-fight losing streak. Every one of Artsdalen’s nine losses have come by submission.
TUF 13 veteran Chuck O’Neil will be looking to make it two in a row at CES 22, when he takes on Roger Carroll in a welterweight fight. Carroll is trying to avoid a three-fight losing streak, after losing a third-round TKO to Dhiego Lima in March of 2013, and following it up with a decision loss to Scott Holtzman back in October. O’Neil fought once in the UFC after being on Team Lesnar on The Ultimate Fighter, where he lost a unanimous decision to Chris Cope. He’s gone 4-2 since his departure from the UFC, and most recently defeated Chris Woodall by first-round TKO at CES in November.
“I’m in this sport not because I have to be, but because I love it. I want to fight the best out there so I can look back on my career and be proud of what I’ve done,” O’Neil told Fightline.com.
O’Neil said that his training has gone well, and he’s had the perfect mix of technique and hard rounds of sparring in preparation for the fight.
“To add onto it, my strength training has been amazing. Feeling very mentally focused and stronger than ever coming into this fight.”
O’Neil looked dominant in his last outing, which you can catch here:
Originally from Kildare, Ireland, Tom Egan fought on the UFC’s first event held in Ireland. That was UFC 93, where he lost to John Hathaway via first-round TKO. He’s gone 3-3 since then, and most recently had a two-fight winning streak snapped with a decision loss to Harley Beekman at CES in November. Egan’s opponent, CCFA’s Chip Moraza-Pollard, will try to avoid a three-fight losing streak against Egan, after dropping a decision to Roger Zapata at Reality Fighting last June, and then losing via first-round TKO to Sam Oropeza at Bellator 108 in November.
Here’s Egan’s TKO win over Aldo Santos at CES in August:
The night’s co-main event is a heavyweight title fight between John Johnston and Josh Hendricks. Johnston trains out of Team Sityodtong in Boston, and has five KO/TKO wins in five professional fights. His last two wins have come by headkick, and he’ll most likely be looking to end this one as quickly as he has in his past fights. His opponent Josh Hendricks fought against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 91 back in 2008, and has won three of his last seven fights since then. He holds a win over Johnston’s training partner Josh Diekmann, and last fought in a losing effort to Julianno Coutino in September of last year, which put him on a two-fight skid.
Here’s Johnston’s last fight, a headkick KO of William Baptiste at CES 21:
The night’s main event features UFC veteran Drew Fickett taking on Luis Felix. Fickett has gone 1-7 in his last eight fights. Fickett seems to have put his alcohol problems behind him, and is badly in need of a victory on Friday night, in what will be his 63rd professional fight. His substance abuse has led to a career with a few high highs, and more often, some low lows. He was released from the UFC after going 4-3 inside the Octagon, after an altercation at the Palms Casino. His recent losses have come to some recognizable names, like Winner, Gathje, Varner, and Kawajiri. His opponent, Luis Felix, has won five of his last six, and has a win over UFC fighter Joe Proctor. Felix last fought at CES 20 in November, where he won a split decision over Lucas Cruz.
Here’s Luis Felix’s last fight, a decision win over Lucas Cruz at CES 20: