Bruce Boyington of Brewer (left) throws a punch at Dan Dubuque while earning a split-decision victory in his CES MMA featherweight title defense in Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, May 31, 2019. Credit: Will Paul | CES MMA

Bruce Boyington’s next mixed martial arts challenge will still have an Ultimate Fighting Championship pedigree.

The 40-year-old Brewer resident will compete in the main event of NEF 42 on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland against Manny Bermudez, who recently concluded a five-fight stint with the UFC, MMA’s top promotion.

The five-round bout will be for the vacant New England Fights professional lightweight (155-pound) championship, a belt Boyington also held earlier in his career.

Bermudez was not Boyington’s original scheduled opponent for the state’s first 2020 MMA show. Another UFC veteran, Josh Grispi, was set to fight Boyington but late last week bowed out because of what NEF officials in a press release described as “legal complications unforeseen at the time of the bout’s signing.”

Grispi would have been making his return to the cage for the first time since February 2013.

He was arrested in Massachusetts in 2014 in a domestic violence case and in 2017 was convicted on seven charges and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison and five years of probation. reported earlier this week the following statement from NEF co-owner Nick DiSalvo related to the change in fight plans.

Credit: Contributed

“We were informed by Josh that there were new developments with his parole and his right to leave the state had been revoked. We have no further information on it other than that,” DiSalvo said.

Boyington, a Taekwondo black belt and Marine veteran who trains at Titan Athletics in Brewer, will be fighting for the first time since scoring a split-decision victory over Dan Dubuque while defending his CES featherweight belt last May 31 in Hartford, Connecticut.

The “Pretty Boy” is ranked 11th nationally among pro featherweights, according to, and is No. 2 in New England and No. 4 in the Northeast.

“There is no easy fight and this makes for the same scenario — a main event worthy of any card,” said Boyington, who is 17-11 as a professional and is riding a three-fight winning streak. “Two high-caliber fighters — that’s the kind of fight I like to be in.”

Bermudez (14-2), a teammate of Grispi at South Shore Sportfighting in Rockland, Massachusetts, debuted with the UFC in February 2018.

He won his first three fights with that promotion, all by submission, before losses to Casey Kenney by unanimous decision in August and to Charles Rosa by first-round armbar in October resulted in his release from the UFC.

Kenney and Rosa had a combined 23-4-1 record entering their bouts with “The Bermudez Triangle.”

“I’m looking forward to coming up to Bruce’s home turf and showing where it is I belong on the regional circuit,” Bermudez said. “I have experience at various levels in the sport and Bruce does, too, so it’ll be interesting to see how the matchup unfolds on fight night.”

Neither Bermudez nor Boyington has ever lost a title fight, with Boyington 7-0 when a championship has been on the line.

The 25-year-old Bermudez is 11-0 against regional competition.

“Bruce always wants to face the best and that’s what we were able to bring him in Bermudez,” NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson said.

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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...