Matt Bessette announced his retirement from MMA on Friday night after defeating short-notice opponent Ryan Dela Cruz and becoming a two-division CES champion.
The final fight of his career headlined CES 64, which took place at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
Bessette’s near-perfect performance against Dela Cruz came to a close in the third round with a rare inverted triangle choke from the back that forced a tap. The finish was only part of a dominant win for the MMA veteran.
Dela Cruz was dropped early in the second round as Bessette marched forward with a combination of punches. Bessette then attempted a rear naked choke that Dela Cruz was able to escape. Bessette remained on top until the round concluded.
The win gave Bessette the vacant CES Lightweight Championship. The Bellator and UFC alum entered the fight already recognized as the promotion’s featherweight titleholder as well.
Bessette, 36, revealed his departure from competition in the sport after the win.
“I’ve done everything. I’ve got nothing else I ‘gotta do,” said Bessette in his post-fight interview, taking off his gloves and confirming retirement from MMA.
Bessette was originally set to compete in a grudge match against Bruce Boyington. The opponent changed after Boyington tested positive for COVID-19.
Bessette walks away from MMA with 25 wins through 35 appearances. This includes 10 fights in Bellator and over a dozen between CES and Reality Fighting.
Perrin Dethrones Smith To Become CES Bantamweight Champion
Jay Perrin became the new CES Bantamweight Champion in the co-main event, finishing Josh Smith in the second round with a rear naked choke.
Perrin was working hard from the back of Smith, searching for a choke for over a minute before an attempt put Smith unconscious.
The opening round of the fight was close, as both fighters had their moments on the ground.
Perrin, a former “Contender Series” fighter, was making his first appearance in CES. His previous fight was in early 2020, where he defeated Diego Silva on a Cage Titans card.
Smith was looking to defend his belt for the first time. He first earned the title in April, defeating Dinis Paiva via submission.
Balletto Jr. Finishes Frunza Early With Submission
Gary Balletto Jr. continued his successful CES career with a fast win on Friday, defeating Daniel Frunza with strikes and a submission.
Balletto Jr. got Frunza to the ground early with a hard overhand right knockdown. He was quick to search for a rear naked choke from the back, continuing with it until a tap came.
Balletto Jr. made his return to MMA earlier this year, submitting Dahlen Wilson in April. He has remained active in combat spots in that time, including two boxing wins since 2019.
Frunza had a four-fight winning streak heading into this weekend.
Sumter Wins In Return To CES
Ending nearly a whole five-year absence from MMA, Albert Tadevosyan lost a fight against Justin Sumter on Friday.
Sumter secured a rear naked choke against Tadevosyan after storming him with punches early in the round.
Tadevosyan’s previous fight, his other pro loss, was back in 2016 against Ben Fodor.
Sumter was coming back to CES after numerous high-level fights, including two bouts in Bellator and “Dana White’s Contender Series” each.
George Lands Numerous Knockdowns, Extends Undefeated Run
Rising CES prospect Eddy George continued his undefeated run on the main card, stopping the returning Rodolfo Barcelos within a round.
George knocked Barcelos down numerous times with punches in the second minute, eventually scoring with a left hook that caused the referee to step in.
Georges holds an undefeated record of four wins. His entire pro career has taken place in the CES cage since 2020.
Barcelos was fighting for the first time since 2019. He took his first pro loss in his prior bout, losing Vinicius de Jesus on a Bellator show.
Bellator Alum Gulfin Puts End To Losing Streak
Gabriella Gulfin snapped her losing streak on the main card, fighting to a close split decision victory over Alexandra Ballou.
The close matchup proved to be a battle of fighters with two different game plans.
Gulfin succeeded with her grappling, taking Ballou down and attempting a rear naked choke late in the second round. Her grappling continued to work in the third round, landing hard shots from full guard as the horn went for the third time.
Ballou had her most success early, connecting with shots on the feet. She notably scored a knockdown late in the first round with a right cross.
Gulfin entered the bout on a three-fight losing streak that included two fights in CFFC and an appearance in Bellator.
Ballou, also a Bellator alum, was coming back after scoring a stoppage victory in June.
Bonfiglio Hands Pro Newcomer Linder A Loss
Harris Bonfiglio spoiled the pro debut of Kyle Linder to open the main card, stopping him in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Bonfiglio was able to catch Linder with the submission after hurting him on the feet with a head kick. He was able to land ground and pound strikes from the back before getting the choke in.
Linder was transitioning to pro MMA after going undefeated as an amateur.
Bonfiglio now has a win in CES. His prior appearance in the promotion was a loss to Bellator alum Jornel Lugo in 2019.
Main Card Quick Results:
Bout 7: Matt Bessette def. Ryan Dela Cruz via Submission, Inverted Triangle Choke (RD 3, 4:48) (Vacant CES Lightweight Championship)
Bout 6: Jay Perrin def. Josh Smith via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 1:27) (CES Bantamweight Championship)
Bout 5: Gary Balletto Jr. def. Daniel Frunza via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 1:56)
Bout 4: Justin Sumter def. Albert Tadevosyan via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:23)
Bout 3: Eddy George def. Rodolfo Barcellos via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 1:27)
Bout 2: Gabriella Gulfin def. Alexandra Ballou via Decision, Split
Bout 1: Harris Bonfiglio def. Kyle Linder via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:14)