Charles Rosa thrills a sold-out Foxwoods at CES MMA 75

MASHANTUCKET, CT (October 22, 2023) – the Great Cedar Showroom at Foxwoods Resort Casino was painted a light shade of pink on Friday, as CES MMA 75 – Fight for a Cause thrilled fans with devastating knockouts, punishing submissions and all-around action.

The card, billed as the biggest New England fight card of the year, included 7 professional bouts, 4 amateur shootouts and 5 top level grappling matches. 

However, the night was about much more than the battles taking place in the cage.  With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, CES founder Jimmy Burchfield Sr. and CES MMA Vice President Jimmy Burchfield Jr. presented a $10,000 check to CES matchmaker Patrick Sullivan in honor JoAnne Sullivan, Patrick’s mother, who passed away in 2008 after a long battle with breast cancer.  The JoAnne Sullivan Memorial Fund will benefit cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 

The moment was a touching way to kick-off a highly anticipated main event, where Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa (15-8) made a triumphant return to the CES cage, submitting the tough-as-nails Jonathan Gary (13-14-2) via guillotine choke at 0:47 of the second round.

The Peabody native amassed a record of 5-0 with CES MMA early in his career before catapulting to stardom with the UFC, where he made 13 appearances from 2014 to 2022. 

“It’s the best feeling in the world to come back to New England and feel so much love,” said an ecstatic Rosa to the delight of the sold-out crowd after the win.     

The 37-year-old looked to be in phenomenal shape as he frantically paced the cage back-and-forth as the fight was being announced.  When the bell rang for the opening round, Rosa pounced on ‘The Junkyard Dog,’ mixing kicks to the midsection and the leg of the Indianapolis, IN native. 

Gary, a 28-fight veteran and former Marine, did not come to lay down, landing two consecutive right hands in an attempt to slow Rosa’s advance.  However, he quickly found himself on the ground, as Rosa landed a flurry of his own and took the 38-year-old to the canvas.  Gary was able to avoid the subsequent choke attempt to make it to his feet, but he was immediately taken down again moments later.  This time, Rosa took Gary’s back and applied another choke just as the bell rung to save Gary from a first-round loss.

Gary’s luck would soon run out, however, as Rosa missed a spinning kick in round 2 but took the Bellator veteran down again moments later to apply a guillotine choke that was too tight for ‘The Junkyard Dog’ to escape.   Gary submitted at 0:47 of the round.

After the fight, the gracious Rosa presented Pat Sullivan with his fight bonus in the form of a $1,000 check to add to the night’s fundraiser. 

“Pat Sullivan has helped me since I made my CES debut in 2013,” said Rosa, who led by example as he encouraged fans to contribute.  “I want to present my win bonus to him for donation to the JoAnne Sullivan Memorial Fund.  I encourage you all to donate to this important cause.”  

It was a wonderful gesture from a fighter who showed that he still has the heart, tenacity and influence to make an impact both inside and out of the cage. 

In the co-feature, Ali “VIP” Zebian (10-3) scored a huge upset, stopping former CES Lightweight champion Nate “The Snake” Andrews (16-6) at 0:51 of the opening stanza in a welterweight bout. 

Just as the combatants were settling into the fight, Zebian threw a crunching right kick that Andrews tried to block.  The kick landed squarely on Andrews’ left forearm, snapping it in two in a gruesome scene.   Andrews didn’t notice it immediately, but when he attempted to throw a jab, he realized the extent of the injury and backed away in pain, causing the referee to step in and wave the fight off.

Regivaldo “Gato Negro” Carvalho won the vacant CES Featherweight World Championship in spectacular fashion, blitzing Stoughton, MA’s “Shameless” Don Shainis in the opening stanza.  The Bethel, CT resident took Shainis down in the opening moments, applying a guillotine choke and forcing him to submit at 0:50 of the round.  With the win, Carvalho improves his record to 9-4, while Shainis drops to 13-6.   

In a battle for New England bragging rights, Milford, CT’s Justin Sumter (9-5) submitted Olneyville, RI’s Eric Spicely (13-9) at 2:32 of the opening stanza.  Sumter landed a few thunderous leg kicks before taking Spicely down.  Once on the ground, the stronger Sumter got Spicely’s back and submitted him with a neck crank, quickly ending their light heavyweight contest.

Tim Flores improved to 4-2, knocking out John Medina (0-2) at 1:59 of the opening round in a bantamweight bout.  Springfield, MA’s Flores came out strong, getting a takedown after landing a series of leg kicks.  With Medina on the ground near the cage, Flores dropped two short elbows that caused Medina to give him his back and cover up.  The ref jumped in as Flores landed several unanswered blows on the Rhode Island native’s head to halt the bout.

Quentin Pasley (1-0) made short work of Turner Williams (0-6) in his pro debut, dropping the Cincinnati native twice with long right hands in a light heavyweight bout. Williams gave Pasley his back after the second knockdown, causing referee to stop the fight at 0:59 of the round to prevent Williams from suffering major damage. 

In the opening bout of the pro card, West Haven, CT’s Arslan Otchiyev (3-2) stopped Boston, MA’s Pat Gilbrade (4-3) with a series of punishing leg kicks.  Otchiyev comically called out any blows Gilbrade landed on him, but then proceeded to redden his opponent’s midsection with hard knees to the stomach before homing in on Gilbrade’s left leg.  The concentrated attack left Gilbrade limping. A final kick caused Gilbrade to drop to the canvas and tap out at 3:23 of the opening stanza. 

Amateur Action:

·     Joe Cortigiano (2-3) defeated Justin Graves (2-2) by unanimous decision
·     Jojo Gonzalez (3-1) defeated Naduev Rakhman (0-1) by unanimous decision
·     Alexander Reigosa (1-0) defeated Maximus Fernandez (0-1) by submission via rear naked choke at 2:10 of round 2
·     Tommy Kempton (1-0) defeated Gilani Ibragimov (0-1) by unanimous decision

It’s not too late to join in the fight against cancer.  If you’re interested in contributing to cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, please consider donating to the JoAnne Sullivan Memorial Fundtoday.

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