Remnants of blood played peek-a-boo from a sizable welt above his right eye.

And the Lewiston fighter was your winner Saturday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee, by unanimous decision over Nate Charles of Windham. It was the only amateur mixed martial arts fight of 10 to go the distance before a crowd of more than 2,000 at New England Fights XI.

“I thought I was going to win in the first round,” Hinkley said. “I thought for sure I had his card and I was wrong. He had some fight in him.”

Three other local fighters and their extensive cheering sections had less cause for celebration.

Caleb Hall of Dixfield and Trevor Hebert of Topsham by way of Rumford each lost by tapout on the amateur portion of the card.

And Auburn’s Jesse Erickson, one of Hinkley’s training partners, fell victim to Ryan Cowette of Bath and a rear naked choke at 4:18 of the second round in their professional scrap.


The main event was a scintillating NEF bantamweight title bout between champion Paul Gorman and Tateki Matsuda.

Boston’s Gorman (10-8) kept the title by split decision over Bellator veteran Matsuda (8-5) by the slimmest of the margins in a stand-up donnybrook. Gorman prevailed by a 48-47 count on two scorecards, with Matsuda in front by the same spread on the third.

In the co-feature attraction, Tony Christodoulou ended his encounter with pro lacrosse player John Ortolani on strikes in the second round.

Hinkley is accustomed to long, draining fights. Two previous opponents each lingered until the third round before Hinkley (3-0) completed the job.

Charles (1-7) hounded Hinkley with dogged persistence and a sturdy chin that belied his record. He outlasted a 90-second, left-right fusillade with Hinkley straddling him at the waist in round two.

Hinkley then absorbed a few glancing blows early in the third round before the combatants, both visibly exhausted, crashed to the mat. Hinkley got the better of that action to cement the victory.


“I knew what I was doing from point one. The only time I got a little scared was in the third round when he started hitting me,” Hinkley said. “I could tell when we went to the ground he just kind of flopped. I had to dig deep. That was definitely my mindset, just knowing I could overcome it.”

If you subtract the hundreds of screaming fans and the spotlights, training sessions at Central Maine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu make Hinkley’s forays in the cage feel like a night on the town.

“A light training day is probably nine rounds,” Hinkley added. “Don’t get me wrong. Every time my gas tank ends up on empty. Every time. I’ve never had one where I wasn’t exhausted.”

Hall had limited experience coming out on the losing end in his wrestling and football careers at Dirigo High School.

Easy to understand, then, why Hall was a bit stunned, disappointed — and yes, angry at himself — after his loss to Aaron Lacey of Bangor just six seconds shy of the two-minute mark in the first round.

Once Lacey tightened the clamps of a triangle choke, his leg locked around the back of Hall’s neck, the Plymouth State University athlete had little recourse.


He tried two quick, last-ditch maneuvers before tapping out for his first loss in four amateur fights. Hall spit his mouthpiece into his hand and hurled it high over the top of the cage in disgust.

“I just didn’t follow the game plan and didn’t keep my posture,” Hall said. “(The choke) was pretty tight. I tried to slam him, and the last resort was sit on my (butt) and try to roll over.”

Hall trailed on all three cards in his previous bout before pulling off a third-round technical knockout at the Bangor waterfront in July.

Saturday was another learning experience.

“I’m going back to school for college wrestling season, and then I’ll come back for the spring and summer,” Hall said.

Hebert said he’ll be going back to class in a manner of speaking, also, after his second-round loss to Bangor’s Kevin Barrett by a sudden, vicious armbar.


“I’m frustrated now. My losses before I know have been to good opponents. And he’s good. There’s no doubt he’s a blue belt. My weakness is jiu-jitsu, and that’s what I need to focus on,” said Hebert, who fell to 1-3. “It’s jiu-jitsu, period. I’ve lost three, and my toughness, my chin, my stand-up, it’s all there.”

Hebert and Barrett swapped haymakers for the first round-and-a-half, with Hebert getting the better of it. But things changed and ended in a hurry at the 1:36 mark.

Barrett’s attack left Hebert with barely enough time to tap out before his right arm was broken.

“It hurts. The guy has a good armbar. I’m not very flexible. No one really is,” Hebert said. “He even told me if he didn’t armbar me I had him. I couldn’t believe he didn’t go down. It’s amazing when you hit somebody with everything you’ve got and they’re still in there.”

Other amateur winners were Vovka Clay, Jeremy Tyler, Mike Pietersen, Mike Vangelist, Norman Fox, Caleb Costello and Wayne Ahlquist.

The night’s first pro bout was billed as a battle of trainers — Erickson from CMBJJ, and Cowette out of MMA Athletix.

Erickson controlled the first round, but Cowette got him to the mat and caught him from the back midway through round two. Erickson fought for more than a minute to move Cowette’s arm and clear his airway before the referee stepped in and halted the proceedings. Both fighters are 1-2 in the prize ranks.

Pros Bruce Boyington and Ryan Hodge each won their fights in the first round. Hodge’s highlight film ended with a frightening, one-punch knockout of Mike Napoli-lookalike Josh Watson, who lay motionless on the mat for nearly two minutes before climbing to his stool.

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