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NH's Clay, Fiore score titles in MMA event

By Lynne Snierson
Special to the NH Union Leader

November 22. 2017 1:15AM

Vovka “KGB” Clay was crowned the new MMA Pro Featherweight champion after he stormed undefeated Maine state champion Aaron Lacey early in the second round of the main event of the Combat Zone 64 “Glory” event Saturday night at the downtown Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

Rising star Nick Fiore captured the amateur MMA Featherweight title by defeating the highly regarded Ali Zebian in the co-main event.

Clay (8-2), winner of his fifth straight bout, was in control of the battle for the vacant title from the opening bell.

Lacey, a tough and talented fighter in all phases of the game, had not faced anyone with the skills and strength of Clay, who opened a deep gash in Lacey’s forehead over his right eye in the first round and battered Lacey with powerhouse strikes and kicks until 1:06 elapsed in the second stanza.

At that point, blood was obscuring Lacey’s vision — both fighters were covered in it — and the referee stopped the fight in a TKO victory for Clay.

“To be the pro champion feels great, and it’s very rewarding. It’s been a long time coming,” said Clay, who won his debut amateur fight in May 2012 and won his initial foray into the pro ranks in December 2013.

“I can’t say I pictured getting a TKO because I thought I was going to submit him, but I was beating him pretty bad and it was only going to get worse (for him) from there.

“I have multiple weapons and I am here to stay,” Clay declared.

The Amherst resident fights for Nashua’s Team Triumph, and is now the top-ranked pro in New England in his weight division. Lacey, who represents Young’s MMA in Bangor, dropped to 4-1 with the loss.

Clay said he’ll take on all comers.

“I believe that I am at the top of my weight class. There’s not many guys left on the local scene who can even give me a fight,” Clay said.

“There are people who are always going to argue about that, and if anyone out there thinks they’re better than me, they are welcome to come challenge me for this belt.”

Clay said he’ll “keep training hard.

“I’m going to stay active until the big show calls,” he said.

Two rounds for Fiore

In the co-main event, Fiore earned his belt and improved to 4-1 by employing superior takedown tactics over Zebian (6-4), who had scored all six of his previous victories by KO or TKO. The second round was decisive for Fiore, who got Zebian on the ground and then pounded him with lefts and rights before executing the submission via rear naked choke hold.

“I worked very hard for this fight and I felt more confident in my striking than I ever had before,” Fiore said afterwards. “I felt really good about my control before the submission.”

The 19-year-old Salem resident carries fights for Renzo Gracie New Hampshire.

“It feels phenomenal to be a champion but this is just another step in my career. I’m really happy with the outcome because he’s a really tough guy and I have the utmost respect for him. It was a good night.

In other pro action, Manchester’s Tim Caron, who lost his first of eight fights last time out in Bellator 178, got squarely back on the winning track with a first-round submission by rear naked choke of Mitch Whitesel from Mansfield, Ohio. Caron, fighting for Team Burgess in the Queen City, notched the victory in 4:21 of Round 1 to improve to 8-1, while Whitesal slipped to 16-29.

“I like being a winner again,” said Caron. “It was my better ground game, striking, and cardio, really everything, that made the difference in the fight. He tired himself out and I took advantage.”

The first pro MMA fight on the card between seasoned veterans Taylor Trahan (7-8), from Littleton, and Conor Barry (3-2) of Stoneham, Mass., was expected to be a war waged for the distance, but came to an abrupt end in the first round when Barry was disqualified for a third illegal shot to the back of his opponent’s head. Barry has been twice warned by the referee and Trahan, bleeding profusely from a deep forehead gash that Barry had opened with an elbow, received medical treatment from the ring doctor in the ring and in the locker room.

Combat Zone 65 will return to the Radisson with another full card of action in February.

MMA Results


Featherweight Title, 145 pounds: Vovka Clay (Amherst) def. Aaron Lacey (Bangor, Maine) by TKO, 1:06 Round 2

185 lbs: Tim Caron (Manchester) def. Mitch Whitesel (Mansfield, Ohio) by rear naked choke, 4:21 Round 1

160 lbs: Taylor Trahan (Littleton) def. Conor Barry (Stoneham, Mass.) by disqualification, Round 1

Amateur kickboxing

190 lbs: Matt Gordon (Methuen, Mass.) def. Jordan Faulkner (Haverhill, Mass.) by unanimous decision

Amateur MMA

Featherweight Title, 145 lbs: Nick Fiore (Salem) def. Ali Zebian (Westfield, Mass.) by rear naked choke, 2:49 Round 2

155 lbs: Josh Webster (Newburyport, Mass.) def. Matt Brady (North Hampton) by rear naked choke, 2.22 Round 2

150 lbs: Matt Brady (North Hampton) def. Kevin Grant (Hampton) by guillotine, 1:03 Round 1

135 lbs: Fouad Shahin (Topsfield, Mass.) def. James Ploss (Lancaster) by arm bar, 2:08 Round 1