Undefeated Josh Harvey of Young’s MMA in Bangor won the New England Fights 37 main event at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday night before most of the sold-out crowd of 1,200 even realized it.
Harvey defeated Berwick’s Bill Jones by technical submission 2 minutes, 11 seconds into the first round of their battle for the promotion’s vacant professional featherweight title when Jones suffered a right elbow injury as Harvey was controlling the action on the mat.
“I drove his wrist down between my legs and figure-four locked that into a key lock with my legs,” Harvey said. “It happened so quick he didn’t have a chance to tap.”
Harvey, a former two-time state wrestling champion at Dexter Regional High School and the one-time NEF amateur lightweight champion, improved his pro record to 6-0-1 — with all his victories coming in the opening round.
“I have good stand-up,” Harvey said, “but if you’re winning fights and not getting hit … this was another fight that ended in the first round, and I didn’t get hit. It’s hard to deviate from something that’s so successful.”
Jones fell to 13-12.
Mark “Pockets” Gardner of The Academy in Portland, competing at 180 pounds, won the other pro contest on the 11-fight card by technical knockout at the end of the first round due to a cut suffered above the left eye by C.J. Ewer of Young’s MMA.
Fred Lear of Bangor and Zac Richard of Waterboro fought to a five-round draw in their clash for the vacant NEF amateur featherweight title.
Lear, the former NEF amateur bantamweight champion, was coming off a year-and-a-half layoff from the cage to face Richard, a former wrestling state champion from Massabesic High School who began his MMA career just a year ago.
All three judges scored the fight 47-47, with the draw-deciding point one deducted from Lear in the first round for grabbing the cage to avoid being taken down.
Lear had no problem with the deduction.
“It was my own fault,” he said. “I grabbed the cage. It was something I didn’t mean to do. It was an accident. As I was falling down it’s your natural instinct, but it’s against the rules and it’s something I need to work on, and it needs to be addressed immediately because you can’t be giving up points in title fights.”
The former John Bapst Memorial High School football player and wrestler rebounded in the second round, locking in multiple guillotine choke attempts only to have Richard fend them off.
Richard, who had not gone beyond the first round while winning his first three fights, and Lear battled back and forth over the final three rounds, with Richard more successful standing up and Lear with the edge on the ground.
“He was definitely as strong and as quick as I thought he was,” Richard said of Lear, now 6-2-1. “He attacked my legs really good, and I need to work on that. After the first round I was short of breath and trying to throw up, so I had to hold that down and just wait for the right time to attack.
“I think I used my distance good and that helped, but he’s really good and relentless.”
Glory Watson of Young’s MMA won one of the more entertaining fights on the amateur undercard, reversing a takedown attempt by Wisconsin’s Rachael Lippert into a bout-ending guillotine choke at 1:17 of the third and final round of their 125-pound bout.
Watson, who has pro aspirations, remained unbeaten as an amateur at 3-0, while Lippert fell to 4-3.
In the second women’s fight of the night, Catie Denning of Young’s MMA eked out a split decision over Amanda Bennett of First Class MMA in Brunswick. Bennett was successful in smothering Denning against the cage for much of the match, but Denning (2-1) had the advantage in the striking game to score a 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 decision from the judges.
Devin Corson of The Outlet in Dexter outmuscled Taylor Bartlett of Central Maine BJJ of Auburn at 155 pounds, scoring a three-round unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) and then celebrated his second win in three fights with backflips in the cage.
Robbie Kiah opened the show in successful fashion for Young’s MMA, stopping CMBJJ’s Joe Howard of by rear-naked choke at 1:44 of the second round of their featherweight contest. Kiah, a 2013 Brewer High School graduate, is 2-0.
Other amateur winners were Jordan Young of Young’s, Bryce Bamford of First Class MMA, Jake Bagley of Nostos MMA and Nate Boucher of CMBJJ.