Bruce Boyington and his wife, Randi-Beth, celebrate his victory over Sean Soriano for the CES MMA featherweight championship at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, in August 2018. Credit: Contributed

Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington will make the first defense of his CES MMA featherweight championship Friday night when he battles hometown favorite Dan Dubuque in the main event of CES 56 in Hartford, Connecticut.

The 10-fight main card at the Connecticut Convention Center is set to begin at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast via live stream on UFC Fight Pass.

The 40-year-old Boyington, a Milford native who trains out of Titan Athletics in Brewer, will attempt to extend his two-fight winning streak.

He fought another hometown favorite, Sean Soriano of Providence, Rhode Island, in his most recent bout for the vacant CES MMA 145-pound title Aug. 3 in Rhode Island.

Boyington defeated Soriano via second-round submission with a rear-naked choke despite suffering a torn medial collateral knee ligament during training just a week before the bout.

That victory earned Boyington (16-11, 7 KO’s) the sixth championship belt of his 10-year professional MMA career. He is rated the No. 1 pro featherweight in New England as well as No. 4 in the northeast and No. 19 nationwide by

Boyington again spent time training at Blackhouse MMA in Redondo Beach, California, home to the likes of UFC legends Anderson Silva, B.J. Penn and Lyoto Machida.

“Being out there allowed me to put all of my focus on my training,” Boyington said. “When I come home, I’m in a good place and I get to come out on fight night with an entire team behind me. All of those things play a big role.”

Boyington said he has benefited during his past two training camps from the world-class competition at Blackhouse MMA, including current UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee.

“Nothing against Dan, but when you test yourself against fighters like that and then come back and fight a guy like Dan, it’s beneficial to know you’re not going against a guy who’s as good as those guys,” Boyington said. “Maybe he is that good, but he hasn’t gone to the UFC and fought guys like that. Mentally it does a lot for me.”

The 33-year-old Dubuque, who lives 15 minutes from the fight locale in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, is 8-2 with two knockouts and has won his past four bouts. He is coming off a unanimous decision over Antonio Castillo Jr. on March 29 at CES 55.

Dubuque is ranked No. 3 among New England pro featherweights by and is ninth in the northeast and 52nd nationally.

The lead-up to this fight has not been without some controversy.

CES held a press conference last week to promote its card, but Boyington was unable to attend because of the short notice he received in conjunction with the 10-hour round trip from his home in Brewer to the fight site.

Boyington did send along quotes for CES to share with the audience, but that didn’t sit well with CES MMA president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. He criticized Boyington during the press conference and told Dubuque, “I’m going to be so damned happy to put that [championship] belt around you on May 31.”

CES MMA issued the following statement in the aftermath of the press conference, as reported by

“CES MMA has the greatest respect for Bruce as our defending champion,” the statement said. “We are extremely excited for him to defend his hard-earned title against Dan Dubuque in the main event of CES 56. We are proud of every single fighter who steps into our cage. We apologize to Bruce Boyington and his family and we wish him and his opponent nothing but the best at CES 56.”

Boyington did not comment on the press conference controversy.

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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...