It was the largest, loudest reception for a fighter making his New England Fights mixed martial arts debut in recent memory, and Gulliver appreciated them all. One, however, was foremost in his mind.

“My dad (Tim) was a boxer. His dad never got to see him fight,” Gulliver said. “My dad, this past December, they thought he was going to die. I knew if I wanted to do it, I had to do it now. My game plan was to fight before he got too sick.”

True to family tradition, Tim Gulliver continues to fight his life-challenging illness, stubbornly enough to be in the middle of that partisan pocket of spectators.

Nick’s 81 seconds in the cage were good medicine. The Jay police officer and Wilton resident overwhelmed his opponent, “Sonny’ Ora Spratt IV, with a barrage of punches that led to a smothering sequence of submission holds and a tapout.

“My goal was to throw some punches, take him to the ground and finish. That was exactly how it went,” Gulliver said. “I was basically looking for a jiu-jitsu game. I’ve trained jiu-jitsu five or six years at The Foundry in Farmington. I’ve been training with First Class MMA (in Topsham) for the stand-up.”

His first mission accomplished, to make his father proud, Gulliver, 27, said that he has caught the fever for cage fighting and will continue. He trains seven days a week despite his demanding schedule.

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And God willing, his fan base will stay intact for the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that.

“It turned out good,” Nick said of Tim’s fight for life through the winter and spring. “He’s on oxygen and stuff like that, but he was here tonight.”

In the main event, NEF lightweight champion Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington avenged a 2014 loss with a victory via strikes over John “First Class” Raio in a non-title bout.

Boyington (11-8) dominated the first round, then took command with a reversal midway through the second before ending it with a flurry at 3:30.

“I know some people don’t always know how to take me,” Boyington said, “but I have all the respect in the world for John and all he’s done to make the sport better in Maine.”

After the stoppage, Boyington picked Raio off the canvas and raised his hand in a classy move that was departure from well-publicized trash talk before the fight.

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Raio (2-8) announced his retirement from the sport for the second time.

“Bruce is a hell of a fighter,” Raio said. “He’s a champ. I gave it everything I had. After his display tonight, I like Bruce. He’s not the (jerk) everybody thinks he is.”

Jesse “The Viking” Erickson (5-4) of Auburn had no difficulty with Skowhegan’s Zenon Herrera, who was making his pro debut. Erickson landed a fusillade of about 50 unanswered strikes before the merciful conclusion at 2:13 of the first round.

Crowsneck Boutin of Lubec, NEF’s 2014 fighter of the year, made an impressive pro debut by carving out a unanimous decision over Ryan Cowette.

Gulliver’s emotional debut was one of numerous compelling local connections on the amateur portion of the card.

Billy “Bigfoot” Leahy of South Paris put his name into the record books as the first amateur champion in the history of the regional sanctioning body.

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It required an exhausting three rounds, during which both Leahy and Ryan Glover of Rumford stood toe-to-toe and tattooed one another with authority.

Leahy (3-1) landed the more resounding punches, especially through the first two rounds, and pocketed a unanimous decision. Two judges had him pitching a 30-27 shutout. The other scored it 29-28.

“My coaches wanted me to stick and move, and I did, as long as I could until I started getting hit. Then that went out the window,” Leahy, who lives in Bangor and trains out of Young’s MMA, said.

Leahy is about six inches taller than Glover (1-1), and that measure helped tell the tale of the fight.

Glover was successful at neutralizing Leahy by getting his back to the cage but never fulfilled his camp’s strategy of taking the fight to the canvas.

“It could have gone either way. I thought I had a little bit on him. I had him up against the cage,” Glover said. “What are you going to do? I’ll see him again, that’s for sure. That ain’t the last you’ll see of me, I promise you that.”

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Two of Leahy’s three previous fights went the distance, “but I wasn’t hit that much,” he said. “Getting hit for nine minutes is the hard part.”

Another of the amateur straps stayed in the area. Dustin Veinott of Auburn avenged an earlier loss with a split decision verdict over Norman “Sleepy” Fox for the flyweight title.

Veinott, who considered quitting while he was ahead before the title shot came up, won his fourth consecutive fight after three losses to start his career.

Dave Smith of Rumford and Gravin Guillen of Somerville, Mass., brought a combined 570 pounds of beef into the cage for their super heavyweight bout.

Smith, a former Mountain Valley High School champion wrestler, showed that the big guys are capable of far more than standing and banging. He locked in an armbar and improved to 2-0 via submission at 1:30 of the first round, ending Guillen’s two-fight winning streak.

Other area fighters failed to see the finish.

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Dr. Steve Bang’s plan to avenge a recent cage defeat on behalf of his son and namesake never got off the ground. Bang, 45, a bariatric surgeon from Auburn, lost in 31 seconds to Pat Kelly, a teacher and coach five years his senior from Rockport.

Alex Bronish of Rumford lost to Alex Payson via strikes at 1:54 of the second round in the amateur debut for both. Cory Trial knocked out Corey Hinkley of Auburn with one punch, in an NEF record seven seconds.

In the pro ranks, Cody Anderson of Nashua, N.H., took out Rumford’s Mike Hansen with strikes in under three minutes. Jeremy DiChiara of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was equally efficient taking out Derek Shorey of Dover-Foxcroft in the opening round.

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