PROVIDENCE, R.I. (July 31st, 2012) – Any mixed martial arts card featuring a former Ultimate Fighting Championships veteran alongside one of Rhode Island’s winningest fighters figures to draw attention right from the top.
Yet there’s much more to Friday’s show than just the presence of John “Doomsday” Howard and Mike Campbell alone; with 10 total bouts on the card, Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports – the reigning No. 1 promotion in New England – has put together another dynamic lineup scheduled for Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 at the Twin River Event Center, featuring fighters from all walks of life, all with different sources of motivation.
Start with Providence, R.I., native Ruben Rey (5-3, 5 KO), who will face Sergio Moran Cabrera (1-0) of Boston in a three-round featherweight bout. Two years ago, Rey was 5-1 with five knockouts – four of them in the first round. Following back-to-back losses to Lionel Young and Joe Cushman, Rey felt the need to switch things up, so he began working with coaches Tommy Haffer and Rolando Griffith at the United States Mixed Martial Arts (USMMA) academy in Bellingham, Mass., along with boxing trainer Victor Fagnant, who also trains standout Rhode Island amateur Anthony Marsella Jr.
“You will see an entirely different person,” Rey said. “I used to not worry about getting out of the first round, but as the competition level steps up you have to adapt.
“Cardio was the biggest thing. I’ve always been blessed with the natural ability and wrestling skills, but I needed a lot of work on my endurance. I’ve been putting in that work now.”
Rey also hopes to draw a little bit of extra energy from the hometown crowd; Friday will be his first fight in Rhode Island since his win over James King at CES’ “Snow Brawl” show at Twin River in December of 2010.
“It helps big time,” Rey said, “especially in those grind moments when you need that extra push and everyone is going crazy screaming your name. It gives you that extra push you need.”
East Providence, R.I., bantamweight Dinis Paiva Jr. (1-3) will draw his motivation Friday from an unlikely source. When Paiva lost to Cabrera on April 13 at Twin River, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Jake Aiken of nearby Cumberland, R.I., attended the fight, admiring from afar. Aiken was injured during a roadside bombing while serving in Iraq and is now part of the Wounded Warrior Project of Rhode Island, which helps raise awareness for the needs of injured service members.
Watching the fights that night motivated Aiken to work harder at his physical therapy. He and Paiva soon linked up; the two had dinner together and Aiken began attending Paiva’s training sessions, providing extra motivation for the up-and-coming bantamweight.
The two are now close friends, and Aiken, who admits he struggles from time to time with post-traumatic stress disorder, will be in attendance again Friday night as both CES and Paiva fight in honor of the Wounded Warrior Project. Paiva will face Framingham, Mass., native Gilvan Santos (1-3) in a three-round bout.
“He’s been real supportive, and it’s a huge motivation to me knowing I’ve made an impact on someone’s life,” Paiva said. “It’s not as if I need someone there all the time while I’m training, but it makes a big difference when you’re training and sweating it out and you glance over to that corner and see someone who’s there for you.
“Win, lose or draw, it’s great knowing someone has your back. It motivates me more. I’m always motivated to excel, but it’s different now because of him.”
Aside from Aiken’s inspiration, Paiva is also motivated by his constant desire to get back on track following three consecutive losses. To his credit, Paiva hasn’t backed down from any of the challenges thrown in his direction; in November, he suffered a heart-breaking loss to Cliff Moulton via disqualification courtesy of an illegal knee to the head and then lost by unanimous decision to Cabrera in April.
“That last fight was tough,” Paiva said. “My opponent came in heavy, but I still took the fight. I felt like it could’ve gone either way, but I learned a lesson not to leave it to the judges.
“Right now, I feel like I’m coming into my own. I hear a lot of people talking to me saying, ‘You’ve got great tools and a lot of talent, but you just need to fall into your comfort zone.’ I’ve learned a lot recently by working with Campbell and all the guys at TriForce MMA and with Mat Santos on my ground game. It’s all coming together now. I feel more comfortable.
“In the past, when I’d think about the fight my heart-rate would kick in and I’d feel my adrenaline pumping. Not nervous – just anxious. When I think about this fight, I don’t get anxious. I get comfortable. At this point in my career, I’ve been submitted, kicked, punched, slammed – there’s nothing that can be done to me that hasn’t been done already. I’m headstrong and motivated.”
Tickets for “Far Beyond Driven” are $35.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
Howard (16-7, 5 KOs) will face Boston veteran Scott Rehm in the middleweight main event while Campbell (10-4, 7 KOs) will battle Rochester, N.Y., native Don Carlo-Clauss (9-6, 3 KOs) in a three-round lightweight battle.
Hector Sanchez (0-3) of Woonsocket, R.I., will battle newcomer Dave Maggiore of Framingham, Mass., in a welterweight bout; Johnston, R.I., and light heavyweight Joe Pingitore (1-0, 1 KO) will face newcomer Ahsan Abdullah of Cortland, N.Y.
Also on the undercard, Tyson Chartier (2-2) of Waltham, Mass., will face Wakefield, R.I., welterweight Tim O’Connell (4-4); welterweight Chris Cole (2-1) of Attleboro, Mass., will battle Robbie Leroux (3-1, 1 KO) of Fall River, Mass.; and Providence’s Theo Desjardin (3-5, 2 KOs) will face Billy Giovanella (1-0) of Bellingham in a flyweight bout. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Far Beyond Driven.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance)