LEWISTON — New England Fights’ 10th anniversary card at Androscoggin Bank Colisee admittedly lost some of its luster between the weigh-in and the opening bell.

September’s loss is November’s gain.

On the heels of bitter disappointment when their opponents failed to meet commitments seven weeks ago, John Ortolani and Jesse Erickson will use those unwanted detours as motivation when they return to the professional cage Saturday night.

Ortolani, a Major League Lacrosse player training out of Nashua, N.H., will battle Tony Christodoulou for the NEF lightweight title in the Colisee co-main event.

In another of five pro bouts — 16 total scraps are slated — Auburn’s Erickson will take on Ryan Cowette in a battle of prominent local martial arts trainers.

Bell time for NEF XI is 7 p.m.


Erickson and Ortolani probably can be excused if they are a little antsy Friday afternoon, at least until the 2 p.m. weigh-in in the Fusion Lounge at Ramada Inn. That’s when both men found out in September that their summer of self-discipline would go unfulfilled, at least for the immediate future.

Ortolani (7-7) was scheduled to fight for the same 155-pound belt against Jon Lemke. Those plans started to unravel right before the weigh-in when Lemke notified promoters Matt Peterson and Nick DiSalvo that he would have to fight at a higher “catch weight,” thus turning it into a non-title bout.

Then Lemke withdrew altogether, leaving NEF scrambling for a new main event and turning Ortolani into a spectator.

“I was obviously very disappointed,” Ortolani said in a news release. “You get all hyped up for that night, and it feels like it’s all for nothing.”

Ortolani is never far from fighting shape, anyway.

A graduate of Endicott College in Boston, he has played for both the Boston Cannons and Rochester Rattlers of MLL, starting every game for Rochester this past season.


During the part of the calendar that sees his full attention turned to mixed martial arts, Ortolani trains with the noted Team Triumph.

“We use (the canceled fight) as a stepping block into the next fight camp. We keep the cardio up,” Ortolani said. “We just worked hard for six weeks, so keep progressing onto the next one. This next fight we’re about to have, it makes it almost like a three-month fight camp. You just kind of combine the two right away.”

Ortolani and Christodoulou (9-4) are battling for the belt vacated by Dez Green, who won it in May before signing a contract with the international promotion Bellator MMA.

It’s a rematch of a fight from 2010. Ortolani prevailed when the doctor ruled that Christodoulou couldn’t continue due to a second-round cut.

“The first time we fought, Tony took the fight on a couple day’s notice,” Ortolani said. “I’m really excited to see how this goes with him having a full fight camp and both of us being much better fighters than we were before. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”

Erickson, an instructor at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hasn’t competed since May, when Josh Parker tapped out from an armbar in the first minute of their bout.


It gave Erickson a split of his first two pro bouts, and he intended to keep the momentum going earlier in the fall against Babatunde Odumosu.

Odumosu didn’t appear at the weigh-in, however, and Erickson was limited to cheering on the other fighters from the CMBJJ stable that night.

“I’m still sour about my last opponent not showing up, but I’m going to use that as fuel for this training camp and come back strong,” Erickson said.

He’ll face the grappler Cowette (0-2), founder and trainer at MMA Athletix in Bath.

“He is a brown belt in BJJ and he outweighs me by quite a bit, but I’m going to send a message that none of that matters,” Erickson said. “I’m really looking forward to this fight and I will come prepared for anything.”

In the other title bout on the card, Paul Gorman (9-8) defends his Maine bantamweight crown against Boston’s Tateki Matsuda (8-4).


It’s the first defense for Gorman of the belt he won in November 2012. Matsuda has competed both with Bellator and in the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” series.

“He is a hell of a fighter that I have a lot of respect for. I expect a tough fight, but it’s one that I feel very confident about,” Gorman said.

Three of the amateur bouts involve local fighters.

Trevor Hebert has made a habit of carrying a cause greater than himself into the cage in his young career, and Saturday’s bout with Kevin Barrett will be no exception.

Hebert will donate his portion of ticket sales to the youth wrestling program at the Greater Rumford Community Center in his childhood hometown.

“The GRCC is in danger of closing, and they need some help,” Hebert said. “The town usually gives them a grant every year, but times are tough, so they are left to do things themselves.”


Another graduate of that community’s program, Dixfield’s Caleb Hall, will attempt to run his record to 4-0 against Aaron Lacey of Young’s MMA.

Also on the docket, CMBJJ competitor Corey Hinkley (2-0) of Lewiston takes on Nate Charles.

Tickets start at $10 and remain available at the Colisee box office or by calling 783-2009, ext. 525.

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