Two former teammates will clash in the main event of New England Fights’ Nov. 19 mixed martial arts card at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Ryan Sanders will face Jon Lemke at NEF 26, a show that replaces a scheduled Nov. 4 co-promotion between the Maine-based NEF and Rhode Island’s CES MMA that fell through because of matchmaking issues.
The main event of the new show will match veteran lightweights who were teammates at Team Irish MMA Fitness Academy in Brewer until Sanders left to join cross-river rival Young’s MMA in Bangor.
Sanders (11-8) has won four of his last five fights, including a unanimous decision victory over North Carolina’s Derrick Kennington on Aug. 5, when NEF promoted a card for the “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” web-based reality series at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
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That bout marked Sanders’ return to the NEF cage after a nearly two-year absence during which the former welterweight won the Toe2Toe lightweight title and also split two televised CES bouts.
Sanders recently inked a multifight deal with NEF.
“Ryan Sanders and NEF go way back,” Sanders’ coach, Chris Young, said. “Ryan fought on several NEF shows, including headlining ‘NEF 1,’ so it’s only fitting that Ryan has finally found his way home.”
Lemke (5-6) is coming off a first-round loss to current NEF pro lightweight champion Devin Powell in August in Bangor despite breaking Powell’s nose in that fight’s opening minutes. Lemke will be seeking his first win since defeating Matt Denning by first-round TKO in Lewiston last Nov. 21.
“I’m very happy to be fighting back in Lewiston,” Sanders said. “I’m thankful Jon took this fight seeing how several top-10 lightweights turned it down. But that’s why I like Jon. He’s a fighter’s fighter, and he never backs down from a tough fight. With that being said, I look forward to developing a game plan that’ll shut down his strengths and have my hand raised at the end of the night.”
Among other pro fights scheduled for NEF 26, Aaron Lacey of Young’s MMA will attempt to maintain his undefeated record in a featherweight test against Taylor Trahan of Littleton, New Hampshire.
Lacey is 3-0 since turning pro earlier in April, a run highlighted by his come-from-behind split-decision victory over John Santos of Hooksett, New Hampshire, in Augusta during the Dana White show in Bangor.
Lacey most recently scored a first-round submission of Corey Trial at NEF 25 in Lewiston on Sept. 5.
Trahan (6-6) has competed on the regional MMA scene since 2009 and last month made a successful NEF debut with a first-round submission victory over Matt Denning that ended a five-fight losing streak.
“Taylor is a seasoned veteran who has competed against the best New England has to offer for a long time,” Lacey said. “He has a vast amount of experience that is going to be hard to surmount. I do, however, believe I have a strong set of skills that can cause him a lot of problems.”
At least two women’s amateur MMA bouts also have been scheduled for NEF 26, one marking the return to the cage of Newcastle’s Hannah Sparrell.
Sparrell, the Lincoln Academy graduate who made her amateur debut in September 2015, will face Fernanda Araujo of Wakefield, Massachusetts, in a three-round lightweight contest.
Sparrell, who trains at First Class MMA in Brunswick, is 1-1 after a loss in April to Brewer’s Angela Young at NEF 22 in a hard-fought contest many observers suggest may be a candidate for the promotion’s 2016 Fight of the Year award.
“For months I have had friends, supporters and fans asking me when my next bout will be,” Sparrell said. “I am happy to have a solid answer for them. Though I lost my fight to Angela during NEF 22, I left there with my head held high, a newly recognized confidence and a hunger to get in the cage once again.”
Araujo will take a 4-4-2 record into the cage.