Jimmy Jackson returns to the NEF cage Saturday to challenge for the promotion’s am. featherweight belt

New England Fights is set to take over the campus of the University of Maine on Sept. 7, and in the promotion’s 40th fight card fans can expect to see athletes with a range of skill sets from cruiserweight Ras Hylton’s (4-2) Shotokan karate background, his opponent Chris Sarro’s (MMA debut) Northern Maine Golden Gloves boxing title or flyweight Caleb Austin’s (1-0 am.) 208-11 high school wrestling pedigree. With a 17 fights on deck, including two pro contests, let’s dive in and take a look at Saturday’s card!

With the ‘Queen City’ of Bangor having played host to the promotion in each of the past two years, neighbouring Orono, home of the University of Maine, is set to feature one of the deepest cards in recent memory. Fights will take place at the Hutchins Concert Hall located at the Collins Center for the Arts on campus, coinciding with the return of students and adding to the “School of Hard Knocks” tagline.

Fight Card Preview

With 14 amateur fights set to kick off the card, fans can expect fast-paced action from the jump. 2018 NEF Rookie of the Year Zac Richard (3-2-1) looks to get back on track moving up to lightweight and facing Young’s MMA’s Erik Tainter (0-1) who’s set to make his return having been away for a day shy of seven years from the cage. Richard’s year began with a draw against Fred Lear in a frenzied am. featherweight title fight. His return two months later saw his first defeat against Tom Pagliarulo, once more for the vacant 145 lbs crown, and in June a short notice call-up in Connecticut proved unsuccessful against Miguel Cuevas for the Reality Fighting featherweight belt.

In the fourth contest, a hidden gem that Northeastern combat sports fans will know very well when promotional am. flyweight champ Glory Watson (5-0) makes her strawweight debut against Markham, Ontario’s Lin MacMillan (0-1). Since debuting in early 2018, Young’s MMA’s Watson has impressed by employing strong stand-up and clinch skills combined with a pressure offence making her a fan-favourite. In her last contest it was a razor thin split decision win in June against Team Quest’s Caree Hill (4-2) in a back-and-forth five round war of attrition.

Rounding out the amateur portion of the card is a featherweight title fight pitting (C) Tom Pagliarulo (3-1) taking on surging contender Jimmy Jackson (4-3). For Jackson, a near three year layoff saw the Bangor product utilize his grappling to get out of a tight spot and put the squeeze on his opponent Brandon Sewall to earn a first round, rear-naked choke victory. Pagliarulo made his promotional debut earlier in the year by defeating the aforementioned Zac Richard and is looking to earn his first title defense on Saturday.

Two professional fights cap the night with former cruiserweight title challenger Ras “The Jamaican Shamrock” Hylton (4-2) squaring off with boxing champ Chris Sarro in what will be his MMA debut. Featherweight champ Josh “Hook On” Harvey (6-0-1) is set to face short notice replacement Dominic Jones (2-1) at a catchweight of 160 lbs. In Harvey’s last booking in June, the champ was forced to pull out of a planned title defence against Jordan Downey due to complications associated with the weight cut. All six of Harvey’s wins have come by way of first round finish with one TKO (featured on the NEF Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight card) and five submissions. His opponent Jones was superb in his last outing, earning a quick sub-minute rear-naked choke win over Keegan Hornstra at NEF 39.

NEF 40: School of Hard Knocks begins at 7 pm EST from the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, Maine on Sept. 7, 2019. Be sure to tune in to live fight coverage with Fight Night Picks here as well as on YouTube in the build-up to fight night!

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