Ashley Gooch, “Banana” Coutinho Battle For The Belt At CES 45

The CES MMA World Heavyweight Championship is on the line at CES 45, as Ashley “Gio” Gooch defends his crown versus Juliano “Banana” Coutinho on August 11 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., LIVE on AXS TV Fights.

Gooch, a heavy-handed MMA Lab product, won the title with an epic, come-from-behind TKO win over knockout artist Greg Rebello at CES 37 in 2016.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been back in New England,” Gooch, a winner in eight of his past nine bouts, says with a smile. “I’m looking forward to getting back in there and defending my title.”

Gooch says the title makes him “the ruler of the land” in New England and that he won’t be going home to Arizona from Rhode Island without the belt in tow.

But don’t tell that to Coutinho, a super-sharp Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who’s hungry to improve to 3-0 in the CES MMA cage.

Coutinho, a fan-favorite out of Massachusetts, says the CES MMA World Heavyweight Championship belt belongs around the waist of a New England heavyweight — and he’s just the man to do make that a reality.

“We have a lot of really good fighters in New England, and we take a lot of pride in that kind of thing,” says Coutinho, the proud owner of five finishes. “I’ve gotta make sure I keep this belt at home. I’ll do anything to keep this championship in New England.”

Gooch’s response?

“Of course that’s what he’s going to say — that’s what I would say too,” he says. “But there’s a big difference between saying that, and then coming to take it. On August 11, everyone will see who’s the true champion.”

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