Though there was no title on the line this time, Nah-Shon Burrell still managed to get his revenge Friday at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Burrell (13-6) defeated reigning CES MMA Welterweight Champion Chris Curtis (13-5) by a controversial split decision, 48-47, 47-48, 49-46, in the five-round main event of “CES MMA 34” live on AXS TV, avenging a 2010 loss to Curtis in a bout in which Curtis’ title was not up for grabs due to Burrell failing to make weight.
Curtis, fighting out of Cincinnati, appeared to be in control, using an effective balance of elbows and right hands, but judge Suzanne Sanidad awarded the last four rounds to Burrell. Judge Eric Colon had Curtis ahead after three and awarded the final two rounds to Burrell while Dave Peabody scored it 48-47 in favor of Curtis, also with Burrell winning the final two rounds.
Boston’s Calvin Kattar (15-2) ended a two and a half year layoff with a narrow win in Friday’s co-feature, defeating the tough Kenny Foster (11-11) of Cortland, N.Y., by split decision, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28, his seventh consecutive win dating back to 2010.
Kattar looked tentative from the opening bell as he and Foster circled the cage looking to pick their shots. Kattar turned up the pressure toward the end of second and finished the third with a flurry, exchanging blows with Foster in the center of the cage, the best sequence of the entire fight. Kattar won the third round on all three scorecards, enough to give him the nod from Peabody and Sanidad.
In a highly anticipated flyweight bout, Red Lion, Pa., native Matthew Lozano (6-3) held on to defeat Johnny Campbell (11-8) of Plymouth, Mass., 29-28, on all three scorecards.
Lozano dominated the first two rounds with his striking, footwork and effective head movement and did enough to grab the early lead on the scorecards despite Campbell finishing both rounds with hard takedowns. In the third, Campbell got his takedown early and began working the body, taking Lozano’s back late in the round, but his last-minute attempt at a submission failed and Lozano earned the win by unanimous decision.
Facing Steve Skrzat (8-8) for the second time in three years, Rollinsford, N.H., vet Kevin Haley (5-3, 2 KOs) emerged victorious again, stopping the Pascoag, R.I., native at the 2:45 mark of the second round due to a series of unanswered blows in the opening bout of Friday’s main card.
Haley, who beat Skrzat in 2013 when Skrzat was disqualified for an illegal elbow, absorbed a low blow in the opening round and then scored a quick takedown in the second, working in the ground and pound on his defenseless opponent to earn the stoppage.
Philadelphia light heavyweight Anton Berzin (4-1) looked sharp in his CES MMA debut, submitting Dartmouth, Mass., vet Matt Thompson (19-11) via rear naked choke at 3:35 of the opening round. Thompson lost his footing early in the round trying to deliver a kick to the midsection, just the break Berzin needed to work his ground game and lock in the submission.
Ludlow, Mass., lightweight Leon Davis (8-3) won for the second time on AXS TV, defeating Arvada, Colo., vetLorawnt-T Nelson (7-5) by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-26, 29-28, eight months after beating Andres Jeudiat “CES MMA XXX.” Davis dominated on the ground, pinning Nelson to the cage for the majority of the second and third rounds, preventing Nelson from getting to his feet or using his striking.
Carlos Candelario and Merab Dvalishvili earned victories Friday on the preliminary card.
Candelario (3-0), fighting out of New Britain, Conn., kept his perfect record intact in dramatic fashion, knocking out previously unbeaten Syracuse vet Luay Ashkar (2-1) 31 seconds into the opening round of their scheduled three-round flyweight bout.
Candelario caught Ashkar with a hard right hand moments after the opening bell, but Ashkar quickly rose to his feet, only to absorb another flurry that forced referee Todd Anderson to stop the bout.
In the most entertaining fight of the prelims, Danbury, Conn., flyweight Geoffrey Then (0-1) withstood a brutal onslaught from Long Island’s Dvalishvili (2-2) and managed to survive the full 15 minutes despite losing unanimously, 30-26, across the board.
Dvalishvili sent Then to the canvas three times from strikes in the opening round, but Then scrambled to his feet each time and even landed a few clean blows of his own before the final bell. Dvalishvili answered in the second with more effective striking mixed with a series of takedowns.
Then continued to take Dvalishvili’s best and made it to the third, where he survived an early guillotine attempt and later got back to his feet following a hard slam by Dvalishvili in the closing minutes. Then managed to open up a cut above Dvalishvili’s in the round, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his opponent’s dominance, including the lopsided opening round in which two of three judges scored it 10-8 in favor of Dvalishvili.
The opening bout of the evening featured amateurs Dan Randall from Chicopee, Mass., and Mount Holly Springs, Pa., native Gavin Nickel. Randall made quick work of his opponent, earning the stoppage at 1:25 of the opening round due to a series of unanswered strikes.Check out our latest podcast episode featuring Robbie Fox of Barstool Sports.