LEWISTON, Maine — Ryan Sanders of Young’s MMA captured the vacant New England Fights MMA pro lightweight title Saturday night, stopping fellow Bangor-area resident Jon Lemke in the second round of their scheduled five-round title bout at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

Sanders (14-8) emerged after a slow first round with a quick takedown that led to a fight-ending guillotine choke 22 seconds into the second round of the main event of the nine-bout NEF 28 card.

“He hit me right in the … gut, and it … hurt,” Sanders said in a news release. “I knew the first round was going to be tough because he’s a killer and I tend to be a slow starter.”

This marked the second meeting between the former Team Irish teammates in six months, with Sanders winning a third-round technical decision in November 2016 after Lemke was unable to continue in that non-title clash due to an accidental cut from the cage. Sanders had won the first two rounds on all three judges’ scorecards.

Lemke fell to 6-8.

Josh Harvey of Young’s MMA pushed his undefeated pro record to 4-0 in the co-main event with a first-round stoppage of Derek Shorey (4-9) in a featherweight clash.

Harvey needed just 50 seconds to end the bout against Shorey, who had planned to take a break from competition after his previous fight but returned to action as a fundraising effort to aid his four children and their mother, who were displaced from their Somersworth, New Hampshire, home earlier this year by a fire.

“He’s a great guy and a super warrior. I’m glad he stepped up to fight,” Harvey said. “Next I’d like to fight someone else who’s undefeated.”

In other pro bouts, Matt Denning of Auburn ended a four-fight losing streak with a first-round victory by guillotine choke over Josh Parker at 150 pounds; Bellator MMA veteran featherweight Walter Smith-Cotito stopped the debuting Andre Belcarris by rear-naked choke at 2:05 of the second round; and Dominic Jones debuted with a first-round TKO of Tollison Lewis in their lightweight battle.

Highlighting the four bouts on the amateur undercard was a flyweight battle between 18-year-old Mountain Valley High School of Rumford senior Caleb Austin and James Ploss of Lancaster, New Hampshire.

Ploss applied a guillotine choke 30 seconds into the first round that forced Austin to tap out, but the referee failed to see the submission and the fight continued after Ploss released the hold. Austin then regrouped and won by TKO at 1:57 of the opening round.

Former Husson University and pro basketball player Josh Jones scored a 20-second knockout over Sean Worcester in a middleweight clash, Jacob Deppmeyer stopped Glenn Kasabian in 77 seconds, and Mason Travers stopped Nigel Moye at 1:10 of the first round of their 140-pound matchup.

Wood set for Maine return

Ray “All Business” Wood, the former NEF pro featherweight champion who now lives in Amarillo, Texas, will make his return to Maine in the main event of NEF 29 set for June 17 at the
Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Wood (8-3) will take on Brazilian Akexandre Bezerra, now based in Philadelphia, in a featherweight battle of fighters who have combined for 10 Bellator MMA appearances.

The fight against Bezerra will be the first of two fights for Wood in less than three months, as he is also set to take on 11-1 Sam Toomer of El Dorado, California, on Aug. 5 as part of the Global Knock-out 10 show in Jackson, California.

Wood has been idle since a loss by unanimous decision to undefeated A.J. McKee at Bellator 166 in Thackerville, Oklahoma, last December.

NEF 29 also will feature a blended MMA-boxing card, with boxers Russell Lamour of Portland and Brandon Montella in separate fights and former heavyweight world champion James “Buster” Douglas scheduled to greet fans and sign autographs.

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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...