CES MMA 45 Preview: Prospects and Heavies

After a torrid stretch of one and sometimes two UFC events nearly every week over the past few months, some fans may now find themselves suffering from MMA withdrawals. Symptoms include: incessantly refreshing Twitter for fight news; watching other sports (gasp!); and offering unsolicited opinions on McGregor/Mayweather. But fear not, fight fans, CES MMA gives us an excellent night of combat this Friday at CES 45, and Combat Docket is here to preview the card and help you out of your stupor.

All jokes aside, CES MMA is easily one of the best regional promotions in the country. Friday marks the promotion’s 45th event; it’s been a longtime platform for the best fighters in New England — a hotbed of MMA in its own right. CES was the proving ground for UFC fighters Rob Font, Andre Soukhamthath, Calvin Kattar, Tateki Matsuda, and recent Dana White’s Contender Series winner Mike Rodriguez, among others. CES 45 features two title fights and a number of promising prospects, as well as exciting veterans. Lets take a quick look.

Ashley Gooch vs. Juliano Coutinho

At the top of CES 45, Ashley Gooch meets Team Sityodtong product Juliano “Banana” Coutinho in a five-round heavyweight championship bout. At 10-5 overall but a winner in 7 of his last 8 fights, reigning CES Champion Ashley “Gio” Gooch is a proven finisher. Outside of his professional debut — a win by decision — Gooch has earned a finish in each of his pro victories. And that high finishing rate makes perfect sense; Gooch is an ultra-aggressive banger. But that doesn’t mean he’s just a front-running bully. The MMA Lab-trained fighter showed an impressive amount of heart in his last loss to UFC vet Shawn Jordan, and has an incredible come-from-behind victory to his credit over Brandon Griffin.

The challenger, Brazilian Juliano Coutinho is 7-3 as a pro. Like Gooch, Coutinho is a finisher, with 3 T/KOs and 2 submissions to his record. Also like Gooch, Coutinho can be a heavy-handed brawler, but seems to prefer to finish the fight on the ground, where he has strong top control and ground-and-pound.

Pedro Gonzalez vs. Saul Almeida

Elsewhere on the card, two of New England’s most dangerous fighters do battle for the CES interim featherweight title — reigning champ Matt Bessette vacated after sustaining an injury in his bout on Dana White’s Contender Series. Saul Almeida is a long-time veteran and a real test for any fighter, at any level. The WSOF and Bellator vet is 19-8 as a pro, and at 6’1″, 145lbs., Almeida is a tall, gangly fighter that is threatening in every position, especially on the mat. Almeida uses his length well on the feet and on the ground, and his traditional Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu should lead to an exciting matchup with the more unorthodox Gonzalez.

With a pro record of 12-5, Gonzalez is arguably the most UFC-ready fighter on the card. The 29 year old Gonzalez has experience in professional boxing and Muay Thai, and he uses those skills to complement his dangerous submission game. The Boston area-based fighter has 11 submission victories and a penchant for finding the guillotine choke, in particular. Knowing that Almeida is a bit of a measuring stick for a fighter’s UFC-readiness, a win here does a great deal for Gonzalez’s journey to the big leagues. Look for Gonzalez to turn up his already fan-friendly, finish-oriented style here, as this bout very well could be his audition to the larger promotions.

Other Notables

Along with Gonzalez, lightweight Nate “The Snake” Andrews is likely on the cusp of getting his UFC call. Andrews, 10-1 as a pro, takes on 14-10 Bruce Boyington. Outside of one fight in 2013, Andrews has fought all of his pro fights under the CES banner. And with an impressive record — all of his victories were finishes — Andrews is set to be yet another CES product in the UFC. A win over Boyington — a 3-time WSOF vet — should go a long way to get Andrews there.

CES 45 also features undefeated bantamweight prospect Kris Moutinho, as he meets 6-5-1 Branden Seyler — easily the biggest test yet for the young but talented Moutinho. There’s a bit of buzz around Moutinho and he should be a name to remember; the 4-0 fighter held amateur belts at 125, 135 and 145. Also, 4-0 Richard Santiago drops from 135 to take on 4-3-1 Miguel Restrepo in a flyweight bout. Santiago has never seen the third round as a pro, and he’ll look to keep his streak of finishes alive. Finally, longtime New England MMA vet Leon “Dynamite” Davis looks to make it 5 victories in a row when he meets Andrew Osborne in a lightweight bout.

Combat Docket will be live at CES 45 bringing you cageside updates all night. Be sure to follow us on twitter (@CombatDocket) and check back for a complete recap after the event. CES 45 airs on AXS TV live from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on Friday, August 11 at 9 PM ET.

CES 45 Complete Card:

  • Heavyweight Championship bout: Ashley Gooch (Champion, 10-5) vs. Juliano Coutinho (7-3)
  • Lightweight bout: Nate Andrews (10-1) vs. Bruce Boyington (14-10)
  • Interim Featherweight Championship bout: Saul Almeida (19-8) vs. Pedro Gonzalez (12-5)
  • Welterweight bout: Nick Alley (3-1) vs. Gary Balletto Jr. (3-1)
  • Bantamweight bout: Kris Moutinho (4-0) vs. Branden Seyler (6-5-1)
  • Flyweight bout: Miguel Restrepo (4-3-1) vs. Richard Santiago (4-0)
  • Lightweight bout: Leon Davis (10-3) vs. Andrew Osborne (7-10-1)
  • Featherweight bout: John Douma (0-0) vs. Jason Rine (0-2)
  • Featherweight bout: Dylan Lockard (3-0) vs. Ahsan Abdullah (7-8)

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