By Brian Woodman Jr.
CES held its first MMA event at Foxwoods Resort Casino in more than two years this weekend and it drew an openly enthusiastic crowd to the Fox Theater in Mashantucket.
The main event, a rematch between Chris Curtis (13-5) and Nah-Shon Burrell (12-6), ended with the latter winning a split decision. Curtis, who trains with Team Vision in Cincinnati, defeated Burrell in 2010. Burrell trains with Fight Firm in Philadelphia.
Although Curtis is the current CES welterweight champion, Burrell came in at six pounds over the weight required to compete in the bout and was not eligible to win the belt that night regardless of the outcome. Curtis attempted to help Burrell make weight, according to information from CES.
The judges awarded two of the rounds to Burrell with scores of 48-47 and 49-46. One judge awarded Curtis the five-round fight by 48-47.
It was a relatively slow-moving fight compared to the other professional bouts, which were all three five-minute rounds. The event opened with Dan Randall (4-0) of the Fighting Arts Academy in Chicopee, Massachusetts defeating fellow heavyweight Gavin Nickel (1-1) by TKO in the first round of an amateur bout.
The first professional bout was a featherweight fight between Geoffrey Then of American Top Team and Merab Dvalishvili (2-2) of Mutant MMA in Long Island, New York. Dvalishvili dominated all three rounds, scoring several takedowns throughout the fight.
Carlos Candelario (3-0) of New Britain knocked out Luay Ashkar (2-1) of Team Andrello in Syracuse, New York at :36 in the first round of a featherweight bout. Candelario, who trains at Underdog BJJ in Hartford, dropped Ashkar with a quick head shot and dropped bombs until the referee waved the fight off.
Kevin Haley (5-3) of Team Anubis in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, defeated Steve Skrzat (8-8) of New England Combat in Pascoag, Rhode Island at 2:45 in the second round of a light heavyweight fight. There were two referee stoppages during the first round after ach fighter accidentally kicked the other in the groin. During the third round, the referee waved the fight off after a downed Skrzat failed to answer Haley’s strikes.
During another light heavyweight bout, Anton Berzin (4-1) of Rocco MMA in Philadelphia submitted Matt Thompson (19-11) of Dartmouth, Massachusetts by guillotine choke at 3:32 in the first round.
Leon Davis (8-3) of the Fighting Arts Academy in Ludlow, Massachusetts earned an unanimous decision victory over Lorawnt-T Nelson (7-5) of Grudge Training Center in Arcada, Colorado during a lightweight bout. The score cards were 30-27, 30-26 and 29-28.
Davis used his grappling to dominate the first round, shooting in early for takedowns during each round. But Nelson nearly sank a few guillotine chokes, bully mounting Davis near the end of the third round and dropping bombs.
Matthew Lozano (6-3) of Team Total Domination in Red Lion, Pennsylvania defeated fellow flyweight Johnny Campbell (11-8) of Plymouth, Massachusetts by unanimous decision. Campbell ducked and dodged during much of the first round, actually responding to a punch by falling and back-flipping to his feet. But Lozano nearly trapped Campbell against the fence and fired a variety of strikes at him during the second round, eventually getting him to the ground in a guillotine choke as it ended.
Campbell shot at Lozano and brought him to the ground in the third round after a series of exchanges, attempting a rear naked choke. He later brought Lozano down as the rounded ended with a single-leg takedown.
Calvin Kattar (15-2) of Sitydong in Methuen, Massachusetts defeated fellow featherweight Kenny Foster (11-11) of Maximum BJJ in Cortland, New York by a split decision during the co-main event. Kattar throw a flying knee that narrowly missed a ducking Foster’s head during the energetic back-and-forth striking that marked the first round. Both fighters were swinging as the second round ended, although Foster looked visibly tired. Foster became a little more aggressive during the strand-up in the third round.