Maine high school wrestling legend and past New England Fights featherweight champion Ray “All Business” Wood left the state in search of ways to advance his mixed martial arts career. He wound up deep in the heart of Texas, twice featured in the upper echelon at Bellator Fighting Championships cards.

This weekend, the Bucksport fighter’s quest to keep that momentum comes full circle. Wood (8-3) makes the 2,000-mile journey from Amarillo to battle fellow Bellator veteran Alexandre Bezerra (19-5) in the main event at “NEF 29: Stars & Stripes” on Saturday night.

The diverse docket – scheduled to include four professional MMA fights, four pro boxing battles and seven amateur clashes in the cage – has a 7 p.m. bell time at Androscoggin Bank Colisee. In an added attraction before the fights, boxing heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas – immortalized by his knockout of then-undefeated Mike Tyson to win the title in 1990 – will meet and greet fans starting at 6 o’clock.

Five fights with tri-county connections, NEF’s own boxing-versus-MMA battle in the ring and an amateur title tilt in the hexagon between two undefeated foes with a combined age of 90 share the spotlight on a busy evening.

“Ray Wood coming back to Maine to compete against Brazil’s Alexandre Bezerra is a very big deal,” NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson said. “The fight made Sherdog.com’s ‘Top 10 Tussles To Watch in June,’ which is an international search of the top 10 bouts around the globe.”

Wood carries a two-fight losing skid into his homecoming. Getting back on track is no gimme against Bezerra, a world-class competitor who has fought nine times under the Bellator banner.

“He has fought some of the best in the world, and with me coming off back-to-back losses, I have no choice but to have my hand raised by the end of three rounds,” Wood said. “I have never lost three straight in anything.”

A black belt in jiu-jitsu, Bezerra twice reached the semifinals of a featherweight championship

tournament in Bellator.

“Both fighters are seasoned Bellator veterans, former champions, and hungry for a win to send them back to the highest stages of the sport,” Peterson said. “This fight would fit perfectly on any UFC card.”

Another NEF crowd favorite returns to the spotlight after more than a year chasing top competition on the national scene. Fans might be mystified, however, when they watch Bruce “Pretty Boy” Boyington walk past the cage and make his way to the boxing ring, instead.

Boyington, who won his only previous foray into the prize ring against Nate Charles at 2014, faces a tall order against Portland’s “Haitian Sensation,” Russell Lamour Jr. (15-2) in a middleweight bout.

Peterson labeled the fight “Maine’s own version of (Floyd) Mayweather vs. (Conor) McGregor,” a reference to the clash of world champions from different combat disciplines finalized earlier this week.

Lamour is arguably Maine’s most accomplished pro fighter since Lewiston’s Joey Gamache won multiple world titles in the 1990s. An eight-time regional Golden Gloves champion and national bronze medalist during his distinguished amateur career, Lamour won the New England middleweight title and appeared on ESPN since turning pro.

“I will fight anyone that ends up in front of me,” Lamour said. “I respect the MMA fighters. They are all tough guys, but to challenge me in the boxing ring is a major mistake. I’ll be in great shape and ready.”

Boyington, a past NEF lightweight champion who has since fought for multiple national and

international promotions, is a feared striker and second-degree black belt in taekwondo.

“Boxing is his game, but I’ve had 25 professional fights and more than 100 taekwondo fights in my time,” Boyington said. “I’m excited and honored to share the ring with the best boxing has to offer. The only thing I’m ever after is a challenge, and I have one in Russell.”

In an amateur MMA between two local standouts, Dixfield native Derek Daley takes on Frank

Johanson out of Lewiston’s Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (CMBJJ).

Daley, a two-time high school state champion at Dirigo High School and former college football player at Husson University, won his only previous foray into the cage last June. An officer with the Augusta Police Department, he is one of seven fighters who will represent First Class MMA of Brunswick on the card.

Another First Class MMA competitor, 38-year-old Rafael Velado (4-0), defends the NEF amateur lightweight title against 52-year-old Pat Kelly (3-0) of Rockport.

Velado, a veteran of the United States Air Force and black belt in jiu-jitsu, noted with a laugh that “it’s nice to be the young guy for a change.” His opponent is a state hall of fame wrestler best known recently for his success as the coach at Camden Hills High School, where he groomed UFC great Tim Boetsch. Kelly became the oldest fighter to win an NEF fight at his last appearance two years ago.

“This weekend, we’re treated to a carousel of combat sports,” Peterson said. “With this card, fans get tosee some of the top fighters in the nation go to battle and get a glimpse at the next generation of stars.”

Joining Wood-Bezerra on the pro MMA docket is perennial L-A favorite Matt “Ken Doll” Denning against Dominic Jones of First Class.

CMBJJ will be a consistent presence on the amateur side of the MMA ledger. Johanson stablemates Kam Arnold, Mike Williams, Ben Harrington and Sarah Ziehm are scheduled to compete. Williams takes on former Lisbon High and Husson football star Jon Tefft.

Tickets to “NEF 29: Stars & Stripes” start at $25 and are available by calling (207) 783-2009 ext. 525 or online at www.thecolisee.com. Tickets will also be available at the door tonight. For more information on the fight card, go to www.newenglandfights.com.


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