Lincolnville native Tim Boetsch won’t be the only mixed martial arts fighter from Maine to enter the cage in New York City’s Madison Square Garden before the end of the year.

Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington of Young’s MMA in Bangor said this week he will be part of the first World Series of Fighting card in the Empire State scheduled for New Year’s Eve in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“There are a lot of athletes out there but very few get to say ‘I’ve competed at Madison Square Garden in New York,’” he said, “so that’s something I’ll be able to check off the bucket list.”

The Theater at MSG, formerly known as the Felt Forum, is smaller than the main MSG arena where Boetsch will face Brazilian Rafael Natal on Nov. 12 as part of the undercard for UFC 205, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship show in the state since New York legalized professional MMA earlier this year.

The Theater has a capacity of between 2,000 and 5,000 depending on the type of event being staged. The WSOF event planned for the afternoon of Dec. 31 will be headlined by four championship bouts that will be televised live by NBC.

At least some of the undercard bouts will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network, though neither Boyington’s opponent nor whether his bout will be televised or streamed on has been announced.

Boyington said he initially was notified of his inclusion on the NYC card a while ago but grew concerned when the WSOF cancelled shows in Loveland, Colorado, and Everett, Washington, to strengthen its MSG event.

“I got really down and out because I thought they’d put every big fighter they have on the card because when they cancelled those other shows it really diminished the number of slots available for guys to fight,” said Boyington. “But {WSOF president} Ray Sefo messaged me and said he had me down as fighting there, so that was a good day for me. I don’t know the opponent yet, but that’s all I needed to hear.”

The 37-year-old Boyington (14-9) won his first two WSOF bouts in late 2015 and mid-2016 to earn a four-fight contract from the promotion in August. The New Year’s Eve bout will be Boyington’s first under that contract.

“They knew I really wanted to fight there because most of my family’s from New York and it’s a rare opportunity to fight in front of them,” he said. “I knew as soon as they announced the New York show how big it was going to be. I knew I wanted to be on that card instantly and I expressed that to them because I knew when it came closer to the time everybody was going to want to jump on it and that’s exactly what happened.”

Boyington, the former New England Fights lightweight champion, last fought on Aug. 20 in a three-round unanimous decision loss to Musa Khamanaev in Penza, Russia, ending a five-fight winning streak.

Boetsch, meanwhile, is training for his middleweight clash with the 14th-ranked Natal in North Carolina with Marcus Davis, the longtime former Bangor resident and one-time UFC contender.

Boetsch (19-10) is coming off a second-round stoppage of Josh Samman on July 13 at UFC Fight Night 91 held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Samman subsequently died in early October in Hollywood, Florida, due to what a local medical examiner described as a “probable drug overdose.”

The 35-year-old Boetsch, the former four-time wrestling state champion at Camden-Rockport High School who now lives in Pennsylvania, could return to the UFC’s middleweight rankings with a win over Natal, now 21-7-1 after off a unanimous-decision loss to seventh-ranked Robert Whittaker on April 23 at UFC 197 in Las Vegas.

Boetsch previously earned a top-five ranking in 2012 after wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard.

The Boetsch-Natal fight will available for viewing on the UFC Fight Pass online streaming service.

Wood poised for Dec. 2 Bellator return

Ray “All Business” Wood, the Bucksport High School graduate now living in Amarillo, Texas, is scheduled to return to action Dec. 2 on the Bellator 166 card at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

The former New England Fights featherweight title holder is scheduled to fight Treston Thomison of Ardmore, Oklahoma, in a three-round featherweight test. Whether the bout will be part of a nationally televised main card or available via live streaming as part of the undercard has not yet been announced.

Wood (8-2) will be making his third Bellator appearance, having been idle since a first-round submission loss to undefeated Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 154 on May 14 in San Jose, California.

That marked Wood’s third fight in as many months, following a first-round knockout of Chris Jones at Bellator 151, also in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on March 4 and a unanimous-decision victory over local favorite Brandon Phillips in Mulvane, Kansas, on April 30 as part of Evolution Fighting Championship’s EFC 3 show.

Thomison (9-4, 2-3 in Bellator) most recently scored a second-round submission victory over Aaron Roberson at Bellator 151.

Wood and Thomison do have a common opponent in Jones, with Thomison suffering a unanimous-decision loss to the Dallas, Texas, product at Bellator 146 last Nov. 15.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...