Cranston, R.I., welterweight Gary Balletto Jr. stole the show on the preliminary card of “CES MMA 42” Friday night at Twin River Casino with a dominant win over pro debut Chris Torres of Syracuse.
Balletto (3-1) overwhelmed Torres (0-1) from the opening bell, set the pace with a pair of thunderous slams to the canvas and then locked in a picture-perfect knee bar to submit his opponent at 1 minute, 12 seconds of the opening round.
Since losing his pro debut in August of 2015, Balletto has won three consecutive bouts, with each more impressive than the last. The 22-year-old welterweight has finished each of his last three opponents in the opening round, including a knockout win – the first of his career – over Montoyia Swilling at “CES MMA 40” in November.
The Balletto-Torres bout highlighted the four-fight preliminary card at “CES MMA 42.” The televised main card on AXS TV began at 9 p.m. ET.
Providence, R.I., bantamweight Marquise Brewster (3-0), fighting in the featured bout of the preliminary card, remained perfect with his third win in as many bouts, defeating the game Cody Hier (0-1) of Philadelphia, Pa., by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. Making his professional debut, Hier kept his distance at times, but Brewster stalked him down effectively and gained separation with his performance on the ground.
Making her second appearance with CES MMA, Framingham, Mass., flyweight Marie Rivera (2-0) kept her perfect record intact, earning a hard-fought, 30-27, unanimous decision win on all three scorecards over Arkansas pro debutJessica Sotack (0-1).
The two traded blows in the second and third rounds, but Rivera’s dominant ground game was the difference as she slowed the pace and kept the hard-charging Sotack at bay. Rivera debuted at “CES MMA 41” with a knockout win over Sarah Click and now has two professional wins in a two-month span.
Also remaining unbeaten, Milford, Mass., bantamweight Richie Santiago (4-0) finished veteran Chad Kelly (3-4) of Winchendon, Mass., via rear naked choke at 1:34 of the second round. Santiago landed cleanly in the opening round and even walked through a few counterpunches from his opponent before scoring an early takedown in the second round and earning his fourth submission win in as many fights. Friday was Santiago’s fourth appearance for CES MMA since September.