MCGRATH: New England’s local MMA scene is thriving

By David McGrath, MMATORCH contributor

Oct 27, 2018; Moncton, Canada; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) reacts after fight against Chris Fishgold (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moncton Events Centre. Mandatory Credit: Trevor MacMillan-USA TODAY Sports

Before your favorite fighters become your favorite fighters, they have got to start somewhere, right? The fact that so
many small promotions have popped up and prospered is a tribute to the growing popularity of MMA. It’s a beautiful thing to see. In New England, there are many strong promotions with good prospects across the six states. Look at Rhode Island’s CES MMA promotion, they have sent many interesting prospects all the way to the bright lights of the UFC. CES regularly sells out Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI and their heavyweight champion Greg Rebello owns a thriving MMA gym in Pawtucket called Tri-Force MMA. Tri-Force pushes out some very young interesting prospects. UFC fighter Calvin Kattar has also gotten into the mix, founding Combat Zone MMA based in New Hampshire, the promotion is gaining serious steam as Kattar continues his winning ways in UFC. I expect significant growth of that promotion in the next few years. Vermont may be the true MMA king of New England though. With two promotions in Cow Country, Napoleon Methe’s Xtreme Combat and Rex Thompson’s Donnybrooke fight promotions (running next events December 15 and January 16 respectively) Vermont MMA boasts prospects like Jon Lucey, Steve Rich, Coty Allen, and Brandon Gibbs. Tons of exciting young prospects in a small town sending the right message to kids about what Martial Arts is about is a good thing. Steve Rich, the current 155 pound champion of Donnybrooke hosts anti-bullying seminars, and the promotion regularly promotes on print ads and twitter to get the small town excited about MMA. Teaching kids valuable lessons about life and sport is supremely important, especially in small-town America.


We live in a great time to be MMA fans, the growth of UFC has allowed the small time promotions to thrive as well. When I was younger the best I would get was a sweaty sparring session I could watch from the door at McDonough Gym in South Boston (where Dana White was once a trainer). It’s a positive thing too, martial arts done right teaches positive lessons and is beautiful in its true form which what I’m seeing in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I’m excited to bring my 4-year-old son to some local events, bring your kids too, it’s a good thing. Long live the minor leagues.

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