Walter Smith-Cotito gets a kick in at Andre Belcarris at the NEF MMA fight at the Colisee on Saturday night in Lewiston.

LEWISTON — The New England Fights professional lightweight championship was up for grabs Saturday night, and both Ryan Sanders and Jon Lemke eyed the belt as they walked to the cage in the evening’s last match at NEF 28: Invincible at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Sanders withstood Lemke’s aggressive style, fighting through the first round and 20 seconds into the second, before Lemke submitted and Sanders captured the vacant NEF title.

“The first round didn’t go as planned, I wanted to come out more aggressive, I have to work on it but I’m getting better,” Sanders said.

Lemke, who lost to Sanders after going to the judges’ cards in February, came out looking to use his quick punches to slow down Sanders. Sanders countered with constant kicks to Lemke’s legs to tire him out.

“I know I can go all five rounds at a high level, so I knew if I just weathered out the storm, I could do it,” Sanders said.


Following the first-round intermission, each fighter looked to take the other down in the second. Lemke never got a chance. Sanders grabbed a hold of Lemke and forced him into submission, winning the belt.

“Once I get someone’s neck in my arms, it’s pretty much over,” the new champion said.

Sanders will look to protect his belt in June, once an opponent arises.

“It’s hard to get someone to fight me, I hope to take it to the next level, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I’ll be back in the gym on Tuesday ready to go.” Sanders said.

The evening started with a quick, action-packed 20-second fight that pitted Sean Worcester against MMA first-timer and former professional basketball player Josh Jones. Jones, an Erskine Academy and Husson college graduate, wasted no time attacking Worcester jumping out of his red corner straight to his opponent. Jones’ barrage of punches put Worcester down before the referee called the fight.

Rumford’s Caleb Austin made his amateur MMA debut against James Ploss. The Mountain Valley senior didn’t disappoint. Right from the start, Austin took position to take on his opponent waiting for the first move to be made.


Ploss came out kicking, landing a couple to Austin’s midsection. Austin was prepared to counter on a forthcoming kick.

“I saw his hands were down so I blocked his kick, and then when he came charging in, I took him down,” Austin said.

The move Austin referred to was as Ploss went to land a kick to his stomach, the Rumford native grabbed Ploss and tossed him to the mat. A quick move by Ploss landed Austin on his shoulders and was tossed backwards to the mat. Austin scampered to recover.

Ploss put a choke move on Austin and confusion ensued when Ploss thought his opponent tapped out and released his hold. After realizing his challenger had dropped his guard, the two-time Class B state wrestling champion used a combination of punches and Ploss never recovered, with the referee stopping the fight at the 1:57 mark into the first round.

“I’m not sure what happened there, the ref didn’t stop the fight so I kept going,” Austin said. “I’m just excited to get out there and fight, it was really exciting,” he added.

In the amateur lightweight bout, First Class MMA of Brunswick got its second victory of the night from Jacob Deppmeyer. Deppmeyer only needed 1:17 to put away Glen Kasabian with a first round TKO.


Mason Travers grabbed the 170-pound amateur bout, besting Nigel Moye just 30 seconds into the first round. Moye was competing in his first MMA fight. Dominic Jones gave First Class MMA three victories on the night by besting Tollison Lewis. After getting reversed on the mat by Lewis, Jones picked up Tollison and threw him down before pinning him down with just 30-seconds remaining in the round, the night’s fifth fight, decided in the opening round.

Walter Smith-Cotito opened the professional stage of the evening taking down Andre Belcarris in the 145 lb class.

Matt Denning battled Josh Parker in the professional lightweight category in the night’s next fight. Parker’s intensity carried him out of the opening bell, twirling Denning on the mat, trading leg locks.

“He tried his leg lock first but I know all about them. Once I got my knees on top, I knew I could take him,” Denning said. “He fought through it real hard. He threw a real crisp elbow at my cheek, if he hadn’t of landed that, he would have popped his knee.” he added.

Once they exchanged jabs, which included a combination of punches from Denning at the 3:00 mark, both fighters seemed to take a breath before putting forth their final efforts of the first round.

“We looked at each other and we both knew we were tired so after a quick breath, we went right back at. I saw him look away briefly and when he did, I went after him,” the Auburn native added.

Once Denning was able to get the upper hand on Parker, he grabbed him and put a guillotine choke that eventually ended the bout as Parker tapped out. Denning looks to continue his climb up the MMA ladder.

Derek Shorey and Josh Harvey clashed in the 145lb class that ended with Harvey winning his fourth bout against no defeats. Harvey took Shorey down to the mat before landing several punches, bloodying Shorey. But it was an elbow to the head that won the match for Harvey, leaving Shorey a little dazed and confused, asking what had just happened. 

Mason Travers tries to wrestle Nigel Moye to the ground at the NEF MMA fight at the Colisee on Saturday night in Lewiston.Nigel Moye gets tossed through the air by Mason Travers at the NEF MMA fight at the Colisee on Saturday night in Lewiston.Glenn Kasabian prepares to throw a punch at Jacob Deppmeyer at the NEF MMA fight at the Colisee on Saturday night in Lewiston.Caleb Austin from Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gets a few punches in on James Ploss at the NEF MMA fight at the Colisee on Saturday night in Lewiston.

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