Two Bangor-area fighters lost their matches on the nationally televised CES 36 mixed martial arts card held at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, on Friday night.
Ryan Sanders of Young’s MMA in Bangor, who originally was scheduled to headline the show against Rhode Islander Luis Felix for the CES lightweight title, dropped a three-round unanimous decision to Felix’s late replacement, former Ultimate Fighting Championship prospect Levan Makashvili.
Just before that bout, Jon Lemke of Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer fell to Josh LaBerge of Fall River, Massachusetts, by a second-round technical knockout due to a succession of unanswered strikes.
The bouts were broadcast as part of AXS-TV’s “Friday Night Fights” series.
Sanders had worked his way into a CES title shot with a second-round stoppage of Felix in a non-title bout earlier this year, but Felix dropped out of the rematch just a week before their scheduled return engagement, citing a neck injury.
Makashvili, a native of the republic of Georgia now based in Oceanside, New York, was secured as a replacement on just five days notice, but the veteran of three UFC fights before being released by that organization earlier this spring used his strength to offset Sanders’ four-inch height advantage.
Makashvili landed the harder strikes and also worked his way inside to score several takedowns during the three-round lightweight clash. Once he took the fight to the ground, Makashvili was able to avoid a succession of submission attempts by Sanders, who entered the fight with eight submissions among his 10 pro victories.
All three cageside judges had Makashvili winning all three rounds, and each scored the bout 30-27.
Makashvili improved his record to 11-2-1, while Sanders had his three-fight winning streak halted and fell to 10-8 though he may still get his title shot later this summer against Felix, who was in the audience for Friday night’s fight.
Lemke (5-5) used quick movement, takedown defense and accurate striking to win a close first round in his three-round lightweight matchup against local favorite LaBerge, according to AXS-TV analyst Pat Miletich.
But LaBerge (11-5) staggered Lemke with an overhand right strike about 30 seconds into the second round and forced him against the cage wall where LaBerge then unleashed a succession of right hands.
Lemke never fell to the mat but was unable to counter or defend himself against LaBerge’s blitz, prompting veteran referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the contest at 1:11 of the second round.
The victory was LaBerge’s fifth in his last six fights.