New England Fights has made an immediate splash in the world of mixed martial arts, no question.

But it’s still a regional promotion, and Maine is still a small state by any measure. So one scary part of unleashing two major fight cards in your backyard, only three weeks apart, is wondering if the talent pool is deep enough to allow it.

With fighters such as Trevor Hebert in their camp, promoters Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo can breathe much more easily.

Hebert, a Rumford native now living in Brunswick and training in Topsham, wasn’t satisfied to sit back and be a spectator for long after his second-round knockout of Stephen Desjardins at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor on July 12.

The 135-pound fighter will be right back in the cage Saturday night when NEF IX unfolds at Biddeford Ice Arena. Opening bell is set for 7 p.m.

Thirteen bouts were on the docket as of Thursday afternoon. Hebert’s is one of only two involving a combatant who appeared on the Bangor card.


And if he gets through this one unscathed, yes, Hebert probably will be the first to raise his hand and request a spot on the Sept. 21 card in Lewiston.

“Why not? He didn’t get touched,” Hebert’s trainer, Brent Dillingham, said of the decision to fight again with such a quick turnaround. “These kids can’t touch him at his weight. He’s too strong.”

Hebert fought at 130 pounds when he evened his amateur record with his initial MMA victory in July.

That fight got off to an inauspicious start when Hebert was reprimanded three times in the first round for low blows. The second and third stoppages cost him points on the scorecard.

“He was lucky for the fight to continue,” Dillingham said. “But he did a beautiful job finishing. He knew (Desjardins) was hurt, and he finished.”

Hebert, whose background is primarily wrestling, instead used his stand-up skills, unleashing a fusillade of strikes that halted the fight with 10 seconds remaining in the second round.


In Biddeford, Hebert will step up to 135 pounds to battle Elias Leland (2-1). It’s a short-notice replacement in a small training window, inspiring Hebert to spend most of his time focusing on his own skill development.

“I have a lot of confidence in my hands, even though I hadn’t really knocked anybody out (until Desjardins),” Hebert said. “The key is being patient and making sure you don’t make a mistake. I work a lot on that. I used to do a lot of things first without thinking about it. Brent’s worked a lot with me on that.”

“He’s a wrestler by nature, but he’s getting comfortable with his hands,” Dillingham added. “That’s a dangerous thing.”

Several local fighters will make the short trip down the turnpike to compete, including three out of the Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu camp in Auburn.

Alex Clark (1-0) of Auburn will face Hebert and Dillingham’s teammate, Mitch Dicenzo of Frosty’s First Class MMA, at 145 pounds. It’s the cage debut for Dicenzo.

CMBJJ’s Dustin Veinott makes his first NEF appearance at 125 pounds against another newcomer, Norman Fox. Also, Matt Denning (1-2) clashes with Nate Charles (1-4) in a 145-pound bout.


The main event features Buck “Knuckles” Pineau (6-2) of Portland, NEF’s top-ranked middleweight, against Isaiah Queen (2-1).

“Buck Pineau has been begging us for bigger opportunities since the first day he set foot in the NEF cage,” Peterson said in a news release. “He’s one of a rare select few that constantly come forward asking for tougher and tougher opponents. Buck is a gamer.”

Queen provides such a challenge. He’s ranked No. 4 in the division.

“(Isaiah) is a tough guy. He’s intense and he likes to go hard,” Pineau said. “It’ll be a great fight. It’ll be a stand-up battle. I’m hoping to knock someone out.”

In another fight involving a fan favorite from the state’s southern corridor, Westbrook native Brandon Bushaw (6-2) will make the trip from his new home in South Carolina to take on Derek Shorey (2-7).

Each is a former high school wrestling state champion.


“Derek is better than his record indicates, plus Brandon is a natural bantamweight, so Derek will have a size and weight advantage in this scrap since it’s being contested at 145 pounds,” Peterson said.

It’s the second NEF card to be held in Biddeford on the heels of six in Lewiston and the Bangor showcase.

Tickets remain available, starting at $20. Go to

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