LEWISTON — Did you hear the one about the politician and the attorney who got together to talk about mixed martial arts?

The result is no joke. Matt Peterson, state representative from Rumford, and Nick DiSalvo, Massachusetts lawyer, adjourned their meeting with the dream of staging a single fight card.

Saturday at Androscoggin Bank Colisee — not even two years later — their brainchild, New England Fights, will celebrate its milestone 10th card in Maine.

Opening bell time is 4 p.m. As has become NEF’s trademark, the schedule is an ambitious one, with 27 bouts on the afternoon and evening’s agenda.

“This is a landmark event for the ‘little promotion that could,'” Peterson, the organization’s matchmaker, said in a news release. “Nick and I are fans first and promoters second. We try our best to put on what we would want to see as fans. We still keep our ticket prices extremely low and we give fans hours of entertainment each time they come out. We believe strongly that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for quantity and vice versa. We believe the fans should be able to have their cake and eat it too.”

The frosting on Saturday’s cake is an NEF lightweight championship bout between Jon Lemke (3-1) of Brewer and John Ortolani (7-7).


Lemke began his climb of the professional ladder in the regional promotion with a stoppage of Auburn’s Jesse Erickson here in March at Bellator 93.

He is aware that owning the belt is a harbinger of greater accomplishments and needs look no further than the last fighter who draped it over his shoulder. Lemke-Ortolani will fill the title vacancy left by New York’s Dez Green, who won it in May before signing a contract with Bellator, the acknowledged No. 2 MMA promotion in the world.

Lemke sustained his lone loss in his last fight. Matt DesRochers won that battle of unbeaten combatants in the July card at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor.

“I had already determined beforehand how I was going to fight him, and I allowed the moment to get away from me. I was so amped up for that fight that I didn’t think at all and just came out swinging for the fences,” Lemke said. “I have learned that no matter what the emotions involved before a fight, to be able to separate myself from those emotions and to fight with a clear mind and heart.”

A loss to Lemke is one of the few things in life that hasn’t fallen Erickson’s way in the past year.

Erickson got married, bought a house and found out that he will become a father for the first time. He also received his purple belt in jiu jitsu from his mentor Travis Wells, owner of Central Maine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


He will headline a roster of eight CMBJJ fighters scheduled to see action Saturday. Erickson (1-1) meets Tunde Odumasu (0-1) of Rhode Island in a professional scrap.

“Tunde has knockout power, but I have better grappling. My striking is getting better every day, so I’m prepared for anything,” Erickson said, “I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a fight. I truly believe people will see the best of me.”

Erickson made his pro debut against Lemke on the Bellator show, but he was a fixture on the amateur side of the coin prior to that.

“I’ve fought on more NEF cards than anyone except (John) Raio,” said Erickson, who will make his seventh total appearance in the cage. “I’m not slowing down anytime soon either. As long as I’m healthy I’ll be in that cage every chance I get.”

CMBJJ fighters Ramon Saintvil (2-0) and Alex Clark (2-0) will attempt to stay unbeaten on the card. Saintvil, a native of Somerville, Mass., now living in Lewiston, is paired with Dan Connaughton at 195 pounds. Former Edward Little High School athlete Clark draws Nick Spencer at 140.

Also representing the Auburn gym are Shawn Bang, Matt Denning, Corey Hinkley, Matt Coolidge and Dustin Veinott.


Lisbon native Charlie Stambach (1-0) takes on Drew Waltz.

More than 25,000 spectators have attended the first nine NEF promotions.

“It’s humbling to think back to my first events in Massachusetts when I struggled to put 500 fans in a venue,” DiSalvo said. “I’m still in awe at what we’ve done in Maine. The fans are just the best. They really appreciate what the fighters do in the cage. It’s something special here, as it should be.”

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