LINCOLN â This was an unlucky Friday the 13th in more ways than one.
Only one of the half dozen local fighters on Classic Entertainment & Sportsâ âNever Surrenderâ card at the Twin River Event Center -- Keith Jeffrey from Tri-Force MMA in Pawtucket -- was able to produce a victory in a show that saw seven of the nightâs 10 fights won by Massachusetts fighters.
One of those Bay State winners was Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran John âDoomsdayâ Howard, who to the displeasure of the local fans on hand, defeated Pawtucketâs Todd Chattelle in the five-round main event for the CES Mixed Martial Arts middleweight championship.
Howard, a Boston product who was released from his contract with the UFC last July after he suffered his third straight loss, earned a TKO victory with 13 seconds remaining in the second round due to excessive unanswered strikes on Chattelle.
Both fighters traded punches for most of the first round, but Howard landed a couple of left hooks early and some body shots late and added a takedown to win the round.
In the second round, Chattelle connected for a strong right hook, but Howard shook it off and responded with a pair of takedowns. On the second one, next to Chattelleâs corner, Howard mounted Chattelle, and with time in the round expiring, he fired an array of punches at Chattelleâs head.
Chattelle did his best to cover up, hoping that he would be saved by the bell, but referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in and put an end to the fight by waving away Howard.
âSomebody yelled out, âTen seconds,ââ said Chattelle, who was making his first title defense since beating Brett Oteri of Dedham, Mass. last November for his fourth straight victory. âI figured I was fine. He mounted me, and why am I going to work to get out of this mount when I have three rounds to go? âBut he was smarter than me, and he started going off because he heard â10 seconds,â and I figured Iâd cover up and the bell was going to ring, but it just didnât work out that way.â
A major difference between Howard and Chattelle was their demeanor in the cage. While Howard was a cool customer from start to finish and oblivious to the hype around him, Chattelle was fired up and loaded with adrenaline.
âHe was really calm,â Chattelle added of Howard. âI was trying to push the pace and hopefully land the big shot. I wanted him to come at me and make a mistake, but he just stayed too calm and I think I was a little overaggressive. As soon as I threw a kick, heâd take me down.â
While Howard improved to 15-7 (5 KOs), Chattelle dropped to 10-7 (8 KOs), but he vowed after the fight that he will bounce back from this loss.
âIâll be back,â he admitted. âI learned a lot from this fight and I promise I will be back.â
Local fans had a reason to celebrate three fights earlier when Jeffrey won his three-round welterweight fight with Chip Moraza-Pollard of Plymouth, Mass. with a split decision, winning by scores of 30-27, 28-29, and 30-27.
âI knew the second round was close, but I knew I won the first and the third,â Jeffrey remarked. âIâm more well-rounded than (Moraza-Pollard) and I knew I had more tools than him, but I knew this was going to be a tough fight, and thatâs exactly what it was.â
Jeffrey, who improved to 7-2-1 with five submissions, used every facet of his game to put away Moraza-Pollard, a strong standup fighter who fell to 6-4 (4 KOs), and added that he was pleased with the effectiveness of his kicks and his punches, especially late in the fight.
âMixing in the kicks in the third round is what I really think changed the pace and allowed me to work my hands even more,â Jeffrey added. âI caught him in the third and dropped him, and I think setting the kicks up and working the hands, working the standup, really switched it up for me.â
While Jeffrey was able to win his fight, his older brother, Pete, was unable to defeat lightweight prospect Lucas Cruz of Boston in his fight, as Cruz raised his record to 4-0 with a submission as he slapped a rear naked chokehold on Jeffrey just 3:11 into their fight.
âMy brother unfortunately got poked in the eye early,â Keith Jeffrey said of Pete, who dropped to 5-5. âNo excuses, but that kind of took him out of the element and he ended up getting choked. That was a tough loss.â
Another Pawtucket fighter from the Jeffrey brothersâ MMA compound, Tom Evans, suffered his first pro loss with a split decision in his lightweight fight with Dominic Warr of Maynard, Mass., as Evans (2-1, 1 KO) was a 29-28 winner on one card, but Warr (2-2) won the last two by scores of 29-28 and 30-27.
And Pawtucketâs Abe Pitrowski, who fought Oteri in a 180-pound fight, lost to the veteran submission specialist when Oteri (9-3, five submissions) calmly administered a guillotine choke on Pitrowski (5-2, 2 KOs) and forced him to tap out with 54 seconds left in the first round.
âEveryone we had here fought tough guys and we knew everyone was in for a tough fight,â said Jeffrey. âItâs a tough sport and anything can happen, and Iâm just proud to be a part of Tri-Force and Iâm proud of my guys, win, lose, or draw.â
The only other fight involving a local fighter came in East Providenceâs Dinis âSweetbreadâ Paiva Jr.âs bantamweight fight with Bostonâs Sergio Cabrara, who was making his pro debut. Cabrara, who spent the majority of the fight attacking Paiva (1-3) with leg kicks, pulled out an unanimous-decision victory by scores of 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28.
The only other Rhode Island fighter to win was Providenceâs Brennan Ward, who also work out at Tri-Force MMA and was a former wrestling standout at Johnson & Wales University.
Ward, who contested Harley Beekman of Amsterdam, N.Y. (4-1, 2 KOs) in a featured battle of middleweight prospects, displayed his grappling prowess and delivered several takedowns to produce an unanimous-decision triumph. Ward (2-0, 1 KO) took the fight by scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.