AUBURN — Ryan Sanders’ fight with Mark Gardner was brief and furious at a New England Fights event at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Saturday night.

Sanders, of Newport, unleashed a high kick to Gardner’s head, sending him against the cage and onto the floor to win his match with a knockout in the first round.

“I didn’t think this would end this quick,” Sanders said. “You go through a million different scenarios in your head. I didn’t have that on my radar at all. I threw (the kick) and it landed. I was feeling confident. When you feel confident, you see things and it just landed.

“I did watch some of (Gardner’s) last fight. I knew he kept his hands low. (The kick) was there and it landed.”

Sanders also said his victory was a way of making a statement after a three-and-half year hiatus from mixed martial arts competitions. He stepped away because of COVID-19 and other things concerning his life.

“I want to put out a statement that I have been out… I wanted to let everybody know (when) I was away, I was putting in work. So I am back at it.”


Jesse Erickson, in the final fight of the “Battle of L/A” card, took out Matt Denning in the first round with rear-naked choke. Despite the quick victory, it wasn’t the way he was thinking about the fight.

“I wanted to take my time and be patient,” Erickson said. “But when you see an opportunity for a finish, you go for it. It was clear (Denning) wanted out. I saw he was giving up his neck and I took what was just presented to me.”

Erickson said it was great to fight in front of the Lewiston-Auburn fans.

“It was amazing — like the energy and the crowd was unreal,” he said. “I had such a good time fighting in front of so many friends, family and teammates. I want to dedicate this fight to my late friend Jesse Peterson. He was a big inspiration to me when I started fighting and I miss him dearly.”

Ross Dannar came right after Mohammed Al Kinani in the first round of the sixth pro fight of the night. They started swatting at each other with dangerous combinations that also included well-placed kicks. Al Kinani changed the tempo of the fight several times with carefully placed right hooks, but Dannar rallied and tossed Al Kinani to the floor.

Dannar came out in the third round and floored Al Kinani and against the cage. Dannar stayed on stop, delivering blistering punches before the fight was stopped and Dannar won by TKO.


Trading fast combinations and round-house kicks dominated the action when Glory Watson (115.6 pounds) and Natalie Schlesinger came at each other in the fifth pro fight. The second round was intense, with Watson delivering a kick that felled Schlesinger for a moment. Both fighters avoided the mat and duked it out until the bell of the final round. Watson stood her ground and won by unanimous decision.

The fight between Andrew Provost (150.2) and Nathaniel Grimard headed into the second round with the pair tied up on the mat for most of the bout. Grimard dominated the action at times and won the fight by unanimous decision.

Nate Boucher and David Juliano both used their speed to tackle each other in the third pro fight of the night, but in the second round, Juliano was declared the winner by verbal submission.

Carl Langston (150.4) and Zenon Herrera tangled on the mat for the first two rounds of slow action. Langston won by unanimous decision. The first pro round of the night featured Aaron Hughes (162.6) and Anthony Vasta, who prevailed in the second round with a choke hold.

The nine amateur fights, which got off to a rip-roaring start, didn’t disappoint a crowd who eagerly stuck around to watch the eight pro fights following the amateur card.

Amateur David Burke (184.2 points) stirred up the crowd in the first fight of the night when he tackled David McCarty and ended up with victory in nearly 20 seconds. Burke pounded on McCarty before the fight was stopped and Burke was declared the winner with a TKO. A three-round fight between amateurs Tyler Parent (134.6) and Nate Dorr went the distance. There were several takedowns and Dorr’s round-house kicks were devastating. Dorr eventually prevailed with a unanimous decision


Joe Peters (184.4) and Bryant Wade took it to the second round before Peters launched a hail of punches to put away Wade with a win via TKO after the fight was stopped. Cassidy Bedard (140) and Michelle MacDavid opened up on each other in the second round, trading blow after blow with their fists and kicks. But the fight was called in the third round when MacDavid was disqualified after a poke in the eye was called during a submission hold and Bedard declared the winner.

Julian Sirois (140.2) used his speed and fast hands in the first round of his fight. He went on to drop opponent Chris Strout four times in the first round. Sirois never let up the next two rounds and was declared the winner by unanimous decision. Curtis Ouellette (168.6) delivered a flurry of punches and beat George Demers in the first round with a TKO. Ouellette’s round of blows forced the fight to be stopped after Demers was knocked to the ground.

Josh Medeiros (125.8) dominated the first round as he and opponent Joey Butera tossed each other around the ring in the first round. Both fighters demonstrated speed and agility, but Medeiros executed a guillotine and won the fight.

Seth Godfrey (203.6) used his girth and strength to overpower George Pissimissis 33 seconds into the first round with a TKO.

The New England bantamweight Fight Championship was a five-round amateur bout between Felipe Gunter (134.8) and Billy Markle. The second round was fierce and there was blood. Markle suffered a cut above his head. The fight, however, continued until the fifth round as exhausted fighters held on until the bell. Markle ended up taking the title by unanimous decision.

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