LEWISTON — It's easy to be overwhelmed by the almost daily news of closings, contractions, layoffs and drop-offs that seemed universal in 2012.
If you're looking for inspiration in the form of a growing enterprise, however, look no further than mixed martial arts in Maine.
Saturday's Fight Night V at Androscoggin Bank Colisee is, as the Roman numeral, New England Fights' fifth and final promotion of the year.
Three of the previous four shows were contested in the Twin Cities, entertaining crowds of more than 3,000.
"Maine is so heavy with mixed martial arts talent right now, it's difficult to comprehend just how far the sport has come in the short time it's been regulated here," New England fights co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson of Rumford said in a news release.
The opening bell is set for 5 p.m., with 17 fights on the tentative docket.
Local talent again is the main attraction. Topping the card is the inaugural Maine bantamweight championship bout between Portland's Paul Gorman (9-9) and North Berwick's Adam Toussaint (5-4).
Gorman and Toussaint's 135-pound confrontation is one of five scheduled professional scraps.
Peterson expects another pro tussle between Ryan Sanders of Brewer (4-2) and Jared Lawton of Augusta (1-1) to be a crowd-pleaser.
"That could very well end up being a contender for fight of the year," he said.
Two fighters who cut their amateur teeth on prior in-state cards, John Raio of Gardiner and Ray Wood of Bangor, will square off in a mutual pro debut.
In other pro action, Bruce Boyington, a stable mate of Wood and Sanders out of Young's MMA, will step into the cage with John Ortolani, and undefeated Dez Green takes on Brandon Fleming.
Fight Night's success is a by-product of the cross-section of fighters from throughout the state. Their regional fan base has followed them faithfully, even in a time of elevated travel costs.
"I couldn't be happier with the response we've gotten in the state," NEF co-owner and promoter Nick DiSalvo said. "I knew we'd do well in this market, but I could've never foreseen just how passionate the fans would be about the sport."
On the amateur portion of the program, Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Auburn will send five of its fighters into the fray, including Steven Bang and Edward Milville for their MMA debuts.
While local talent is the focus of the season-ending card, New England Fights paid homage to Maine's combat sports tradition throughout the year.
Native sons and world champions Tim Sylvia and Mike Brown fought on earlier cards.
DiSalvo and Peterson already have announced their plans to expand in 2013, with hopes of adding new venues to the active event sites in Lewiston and Biddeford.
The Colisee box office opens at 10 a.m. Saturday. Seats also may be reserved by calling 783-2009, ext. 525.