SALEM, N. H. -- Methuen's Calvin Kattar entered the cage to the theme of “Rocky” and then fought an epic battle with Gabriel Baino before being declared the winner by unanimous decision in the thrilling main event of Combat Zone MMA on Friday night in the packed Sports Club at Rockingham Park.
Kattar had the strong backing of the partisan hometown crowd as he bloodied Baino from the opening round and ruined the Brazilian fighter’s previously unblemished record. Baino, who appeared to be fighting blindly in the later rounds after Kattar opened deep, gushing cuts over both eyes, dropped to 5-1 while Kattar fought his way out of a guillotine choke hold at the end of the first round and a kimora submission attempt in the third to improve to 14-2.
Baino looked gassed and outclassed in round 2, but he dug down deeply and willed his way back to inflict damage of his own and opened a cut over Kattar’s left eye. To veteran observers, this appeared to be Kattar’s toughest pro fight
“They’re all tough, but it was. He fought hard. He’s a tough kid,” said Kattar, who extended his consecutive win streak to six and remained undefeated in all nine of his Combat Zone bouts. “I hurt my hand in the second round and was a little worried about it, but I gave it to him the best I could. I was just happy to get the ‘W.'”
This was the third fight for Kattar at 145 pounds. He previously fought at 155 pounds and put away his opponents in the first round in all eight of his first fights, earning the moniker “The Boston Finisher.”
“I feel like the fight was tough and the weight cut was equally as tough. Together it was a tough task and I’m looking forward to getting that finish (at 145) but it just didn’t come tonight. I went for it as best I could, but he’s a very tough kid. I can’t say enough about him,” Kattar said.
Long considered to be on the verge on stepping up to the UFC or Bellator, Kattar wasn't looking ahead after the win.
“It’s too soon to think about,” the regional favorite said.
In the co-main event between two first time professionals, Lakes Region Valley Tudo representative Mike Burke dominated John Healey (0-1) from Wakefield, N.H. with a succession of strikes, dropped him to the ground, and continued to batter and bloody him until the referee stopped the fight 1:12 into the first round. With the TKO, Burke stands at 1-0 after an impressive 5-1 amateur record.
In the first amateur fight of the night, Team Triumph of Nashua representative Jay Perrin improved to 3-1 by submitting Matt Denning of CMBJJ with an arm bar in 2:28 of round 2. Denning, who battled his opponent evenly in the first round at 140 pounds, dropped his second straight match to fall to 1-2.
The second fight featured a pair with spotless records and brought a name with MMA star power into the cage when Kirk Florian, the younger brother of UFC luminary Kenny Florian, matched skills with Dominic Cofone for the full three rounds. Florian’s better stand-up game proved the difference as he was declared the winner by split decision and upped his record to 3-0 while Cafone is now 3-1.
Next up Scott Gorgone and Dave Sousa got the crowd screaming and cheering from the opening bell with an aggressive, intense and evenly waged bloody battle featuring a flurry of powerful strikes and a masterful ground game from both tough and courageous fighters for the first two rounds. Gorgone gained the advantage in the final round with his ground game and was declared the winner by unanimous decision to remain undefeated at 3-0-0, while Sousa dropped to 1-2 while being a better fighter than his record shows.
Despite giving his opponent a 17-year advantage, 38-year-old Wayne Ahlquist (2-5) prevailed over Tollison Lewis (3-7) in the next match at 155 pounds by controlling the pace and being more aggressive. Then Dan Connaughton (1-0) needed only 1:07 of the first round to win his amateur debut when he submitted local favorite Kristian Lombardi of Team Fury (0-1) by an arm bar in their fight at 185 pounds.
Team Kink’s Paul Gaffney (2-0) from Manchester, N.H. wrapped up the amateur action with a first round TKO when Crowsneck Boutin slipped and fell to mat and then he was able to take control and pound and ground with a fast flury of strikes to the head. Boutin’s record was evened at 3-3.
145 – Calvin Kattar (Methuen, MA) def. Gabriel Baino (Brazil), unanimous decision
155– Mike Burke (Laconia, NH) def. John Healey (Wakefield, NH), TKO, 1:21 Round 1
140 – Jay Perrin (Hudson, NH) def. Matt Denning (Lewiston, ME), arm triangle, 2:28 Round 2
150 -- Kirk Florian (Dover, MA) def. Dominic Cofone (Westbrook, ME), split decision
145 – Scott Gorgone (Maynard, MA) def. David Sousa (No. Andover, MA), unanimous dec.
155 -- Wayne Ahlquist (Meredith, NH) def. Tollison Lewis (Windham, ME), unanimous dec.
185 – Dan Connaughton (Lynn, MA) def. Kristian Lombardi (Methuen, MA),
190 – Paul Gaffney (Manchester, NH) def. Crowsneck Boutin (Lube, ME), TKO round 1