LEWISTON — Forget the classic rock directives of “take it to the limit” or “takin’ it to the streets.”

With time winding down in his rookie ruckus as a mixed martial artist Saturday night, 18-year-old Edward Little High School senior Sheldon Bang wanted to take it to the mat. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

When his own feet weren’t bouncing around the cage, and when opponent Carl Langston’s back or shoulders were squirming against the mat, Bang knew he was well within his comfort zone.

That strategy enabled to him to win the first and third rounds convincingly en route to a unanimous decision over the Windham fighter in New England Fights XIII at Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Bang edged Langston, 29-28, on all three cards.

“Once I got him to the ground, that’s where I felt comfortable, and that’s where I believe I won the match,” Bang said. “The second round, he kept me standing up and he was getting me. He’s a lot better at stand-up. I just told myself that and took it to him in the third round.”

It was a triumphant night for the Bang family and their Lewiston gym, Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Sheldon’s older brother, Steven, 21, used a rear naked choke in the final round to put away rugged Jeremy Tyler for his third consecutive victory after a one-year layoff.

“I’m super proud of that,” Steven Bang said of the sweep.

Also in an amateur fight, Dustin Veinott of Auburn broke into the win column after three prior defeats in convincing fashion, knocking out Dan Thayer in 25 seconds.

And pro Jesse Erickson made it 4-0 for CMBJJ, overwhelming John Daniels and eliciting the tap out by rear naked choke at 36 seconds of a professional bout scheduled for three five-minute rounds. Erickson improved to 3-2.

Not even three months ago, Sheldon Bang won the 132-pound Class A schoolboy wrestling state championship.

Between the requisite nerves and the new disciplines he had to learn in order to prepare for Langston, he navigated a steep learning curve.

“It’s not what I thought I was,” the younger Bang said. “Going in that ring, it’s definitely a new experience. It’s a lot different than wrestling. It’s more intense on a different level. It’s got some of the same aspects. You just go, go, go, as hard as you can, which is the same. But you’re not watching your face or your torso in wrestling like you are in MMA.”

Bang was successful at sweeping Langston’s leg and getting horizontal in the opening round.

When things stayed vertical in the middle stanza, the newcomer looked like he might be in trouble.

“He got some nice straight kicks that didn’t hurt too bad,” Bang said. “But the straight punches, he got me with one right in the teeth. In sparring sometimes you get hit, but it’s nothing like that.”

Bang again succeeded in gaining his preferred location and leverage in the third round, using strikes to the midsection and head to curry the judges’ favor.

Accustomed to being the top seed, or sometimes waiting hours between the preliminaries and the final in a wrestling meet, Sheldon found the relatively low-pressure spot of being in the second bout of the night to be a godsend.

“The anxiety in wrestling, that killed me, to wait all day just to get ready for a match. It was nice just to go in and do it without the anxiety eating away at me all night,” he said. “Here, it is my first fight, and there was anxiety at first, but I was able to cool myself down and I was able to use that during the fight to keep my adrenaline going.”

In a battle of experienced grinders that could have gone either way, Steven Bang made the rear naked choke his signature move once again.

He now has won back-to-back fights in that fashion following a loss and a decision victory in his first two appearances. Bang dismissed Tyler at 54 seconds of the third round.

“He’s a strong dude. Real strong. It doesn’t sound like it now, but I have pretty good cardio,” said Steven Bang, still regaining his wind about 15 minutes after the fight. “That third round, I can dig it out every time.”

Tyler caused one anxious moment for Bang in the second round when he nearly locked in a move that would have turned out the lights on the local favorite.

“He had the guillotine thing there, but I prepared for it and I was ready for it,” Bang said. “They’re all tough. Any third-round match feels like crap. It comes down to heart, strength, wanting it more. Just really wanting it.”

That persistence served his stablemate Veinott well, also.

Something had to give in the bout between the 28-year-old from Auburn, who was 0-3, and Dan Thayer, who was defeated in his only previous appearance.

One good shot to the chin dropped Thayer. Veinott zeroed in for the finish, but the referee wisely beat him to the punch.

“I was just more comfortable. I really wanted that win, really hungry for it,” Veinott said. “I figured it was going to be a decision win. I definitely didn’t expect (a knockout), but I’m pretty confident in my power.”

Veinott has only been cage fighting for 15 months after dabbling in boxing and karate.

He said the prior losses taught him composure, patience, and to keep his chin down and hands up.

“It’s such a chess sport. I like the strategy,” Veinott said. “And it’s one-on-one. It’s not like football where there’s a team. That’s what I like. If I lose, it’s my fault. If I win, it’s my fault.”

In the main event, Gil de Freitas (16-5) successfully defended the NEF welterweight title with a bloody, ground-oriented unanimous decision over Bangor’s Ryan Sanders (6-5). It was de Freitas’ second win over Sanders in a title bout. The score was 49-46 on all three cards, with Sanders winning only the opening round.

Each of the other four pro bouts ended in the first round. Amos Collins of Myrtle Beach. S.C., got a tap out from John “First Class” Raio with only two seconds remaining in the first round. Raio’s downfall was a head-and-arm choke. Also, Rodrigo Ranieri de Faria grabbed a first-round victory via armbar over Jay Jay Torres, and Devin Powell needed only 24 seconds to dispatch Jon Lemke.

Other amateur winners were Zach Elkins, Aaron Lacey, Norman Fox, Jarrod Tyler, Crowsneck Boutin, Mike Crespo and Chad Jordan.

NEF announced Saturday night that former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia will fight for the promotion’s inaugural super heavyweight title on its next Colisee card Sept. 6.


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