Ryan Sanders began cross training and fighting in amateur MMA as a student at Marcus Davis’ famed Team Irish in Brewer, Maine back in 2006 and with a former training partner of Davis’, Chris Young, at Young’s MMA across town in Bangor. After almost five years of straddling schools, Sanders made the decision to permanently join Young’s MMA in 2011. Sanders’ choice caused a rift between the two biggest MMA gyms in Maine and the rancor between them has been building ever since.
The bad blood boiled over in September 2012 when Sanders contended for the Maine State MMA Welterweight Championship at “NEF VI” against Brazil’s Gil de Freitas. Davis cornered de Freitas against Sanders during the bout in which de Freitas won a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards. After the decision was read, the two corners engaged in a heated exchange before being escorted out of the cage under the watchful supervision of state commission staff. Ever since the commotion at “NEF VI,” fans have been petitioning NEF for a Davis-Sanders showdown. With bout agreements in place, fans will finally see the teacher-student confrontation.
“Normally you take fights that you have no emotional connection and nothing at stake other than a win or a loss,” stated Davis when reached for comment. “In this case, it’s a classical student versus former instructor. Also competing against our main competition in our area. I have the most at stake here. Sanders is supposed to lose. I’m a 22-year professional fight vet with 15 appearances in the UFC. I own my gym; he is just another student at Young’s. This fight affects not only my pride, but my business. I can’t just ‘get the win’ against Sanders. I have to knock him out or submit him quickly.”
“Fighting Marcus is this biggest opportunity of my fighting career and I will not let it slip through my hands,” stated Sanders when reached for comment. “You will see the best Ryan Sanders that anyone has ever seen come February 8th. It’s an honor to fight him and it’s my time.”
“Marcus Davis made the decision over two decades ago to devote his life to competing and teaching martial arts,” stated NEF co-owner and matchmaker Matt Peterson. “He is a fighter in every facet of his lifestyle and literally gave young, upcoming mixed martial artists their start—including Ryan Sanders himself. Marcus’ legacy is solidified and now we get to witness whether Ryan is the next breed of Maine fighter with the potential to make it big and go on to a long, storied career in combat sports. The energy around this one is searing.”
NEF MMA’s next event, “NEF XII,” is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine with a bell time of 7:00 pm. Maine State MMA Middleweight Champion Jesse Peterson (7-4) will return to action for the first time in nearly a year. Tickets start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling The Colisee box office at 207.783.2009 x 525. For more information on the event and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com. In addition, you can watch NEF MMA videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”