LEWISTON, Maine — Jamie Harrison was 1.3 pounds from becoming the New England Fights lightweight champion Saturday night.
Harrison, who lives and trains in Jacksonville, Florida, missed the 155-pound limit by that much at Friday’s weigh-in, so his main-event battle with champion Bruce Boyington at NEF XVII on Saturday night was a non-title event.
But it was a prime-time performance for the Windham native, who improved his professional mixed martial arts record to 6-1 by stopping Boyington with a rear-naked choke at 1 minute, 15 seconds of the first round of their scheduled three-round bout at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
‘The key to winning the fight was taking it to the ground as soon as possible and imposing my wrestling and jiu-jitsu and going from there,” Harrison said. “The game plan worked.”
Boyington initially got to Harrison’s back in the opening minute of the bout, but Harrison rose up so that Boyington’s head was near the ground with his legs toward the air. Boyington reached with his legs to apply an inverted triangle, but Harrison avoided the attempt and applied the rear-naked choke as he took his opponent to the mat.
“I wish I could give some kind of excuse for what happened,” said Boyington, whose record fell to 10-8. “I just got caught right off the bat. I didn’t stick to my game plan because when we got inverted I thought it presented the opportunity for an inverted triangle. I was trying something that was real risky, and it didn’t pan out and put me in a position where he was able to get hold of me, which was not what we were trying to do.
“The idea was not to get into that position with him, because he was 20 pounds heavier than me tonight. I should have never let him get hold of me because you just can’t fight that strength off.”
Harrison apologized to the crowd after the fight for not making weight.
“I flew in from Florida and had to rely on calibrating my scale with someone else’s I thought I could trust and it was off, it was incorrect,” Harrison said. “When I went to weigh-ins, even though it seems like a small amount of weight, at that point I didn’t have enough time to cut. It’s not that I couldn’t have done it, just not in that time.”
Dennis Olson of Amherst, New Hampshire, won the co-main event, outpointing Augusta’s Jared Lawton by split decision.
Olson (13-7) used some heavy kicks to set the tone, then maintained top position in the ground game while withstanding several counterattacks by Lawton (4-2) to win all three rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
One of the more anticipated pro bouts on the card was the third career meeting between John “First Class” Raio of Topsham and Derek “Shatterproof” Shorey of Dover-Foxcroft, with each having won one of the previous matchups.
Shorey (2-1) won the third chapter, escaping an early guillotine choke bid by Raio to gain top position and then landing a series of unanswered strikes to score a win by technical knockout at 3:20 of the opening round.
“My whole amateur career I suffered with a weak neck — I have a long neck,” Shorey said. “This whole camp I’d been having [my teammates] work on chokes with me, and I’ve also worked on my hands a lot.
“He had me in a deep guillotine, but this was the first time my kids have been in the audience and I told myself I wasn’t going out like that.”
NEF’s first professional women’s bout produced an entertaining strawweight matchup between Kaline Medeiros of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Calie Cutler of Brighton, Michigan, with Medeiros (4-4) building an early lead and scoring a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Cutler (3-1).
Jesse “The Viking” Erickson of Auburn, who was coming off back-to-back losses to Boyington in NEF lightweight title fights, rebounded in impressive fashion with a first-round stoppage of Mark DeFord (0-4) of Gainesville, Florida.
Erickson (4-4) used several accurate knee strikes to lower DeFord’s guard, then landed a solid right hand to the head that ended the fight at 1:41 of the first round.
Boston’s Jay Perrin (2-0) opened the professional portion of the show by stopping Portland’s Eli Leland (2-1) via technical knockout (strikes) at 4:28 of Round 2.