LEWISTON — “Frosty” Brent Dillingham already had a bum shoulder that he kept a secret from his family, friends and promoters.
As game and courageous as all those people know the hometown hero to be, Dillingham had to tap out of his professional mixed martial arts debut Thursday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee to avoid leaving the scene with a broken arm to match.
Just as Dillingham rose from the mat and appeared to overcome Mike Mucitelli’s opening barrage of punches, Mucitelli put Dillingham in an armbar that forced his submission at 2 minutes, 48 seconds.
“Honestly, I wasn’t hurt or anything. He hit me with a few good shots, but the shots didn’t hurt,” said Dillingham, who hails from Lewiston and trains in Bath. “That armbar, he caught it just right and hyperextended it, and I had to tap before it broke.”
The bout was one of seven on the undercard of Bellator Fighting Championships’ first Maine appearance. All fell shy of the scheduled distance and were not local crowd-pleasers. Jesse Peterson of Rumford, John Raio of Gardiner, Jesse Erickson of Auburn and Ryan Sanders of Bangor joined Dillingham on the losing end.
Bellator’s three featured bouts unfolded in front of a near-capacity crowd and a national audience on Spike TV.
In the main event and the only scrap to go the three-round distance, Dave Jansen (20-2) scored a close but unanimous decision over Marcin Held (15-3).
Jansen won 29-28 on all three scorecards.
It was the final in Bellator’s Season 7 lightweight tournament. Jansen earned a total tournament purse of $100,000 and an automatic title shot against champion Michael Chandler.
“I feel total elation and relief,” said Jansen. “I’ve got some peace in my life now.”
Marcus Davis of Houlton fought in the first installment of the broadcast trilogy, but it also harbored an unsatisfying ending for the partisans.
A little more than halfway through a relatively quiet first round, Davis (21-9) caught Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-11-1) with a knee that landed near the groin area.
Spiritwolf crashed to the mat, writhing in pain. Under the rules, the California veteran was given five minutes in an attempt to recover.
The crowd felt that Spiritwolf was milking his injury, and with Davis pacing back and forth, gesturing and egging them on at times, they taunted Spiritwolf with chants of “stand up!” and another common, off-color expression of disapproval.
When it was determined that the fight couldn’t go on, with the foul ruled accidental and inside of two rounds, the fight was declared a no-contest.
Davis flatly denied that there was any contact outside the rules.
“It is legal to hit on the belt line, and I hit him right on the line,” Davis said. “There was no cup. I felt nothing but belly.”
Prior to the abrupt end, Spiritwolf backed Davis into the cage and appeared intent upon turning the fight into more of a brawl. That strategy backfired immediately. Davis nearly executed a guillotine choke. He chose to release the maneuver rather than force it, however.
The action continued across the cage before Spiritwolf went down with a thud. Davis said he thought Spiritwolf was caught off guard when the UFC veteran came out kicking, not merely relying upon his well-documented boxing skills.
“I don’t want to dog anybody. I hate dogging people, especially after a fight,” Davis said. “But I feel he was looking for a way out. And I’m disappointed, because I wanted another win on my record and I was going to get one.”
At least Davis’ supporters won’t have to wait long to see him in action a second time. He’s scheduled to headline the next New England Fights card here May 18.
Ryan Martinez (9-2) floored Travis Wiuff (68-17) in the featured heavyweight tussle that was one of three on the night to end in 18 seconds or less.
Martinez landed a left-right-left combination that collapsed Wiuff to the canvas, then finished it with two crunching, close-range rights to Wiuff’s head.
“I was super-relaxed coming into this fight,” Martinez said. “I told my corner right before we walked to the ring, ‘Man, I feel weird. I feel too relaxed.’ They said, ‘No, that’s great.’”
Mucitelli, who improved to 5-0 with 2 KOs in the light heavyweight division, acknowledged that he gambled by going for the submission hold on Dillingham after dominating the early action with his fists.
That might have been a compliment to Dillingham’s tenacity.
“I was hitting him with a lot of good shots, but he was just going to keep fighting and fighting and fighting,” Mucitelli said. “When I had a shot to end it, I had to take it.”
The fighter from Syracuse, N.Y., said he wasn’t intimidated by confronting a local fighter on his home turf, and with good reason.
New York is one of three states where MMA is not yet legalized.
“I’m always the away team,” he said.
Dillingham was 4-0 in an amateur career that lasted only a year. He said he made the jump “because it was Bellator.”
The shoulder ailment wasn’t his only obstacle in camp. He was required to cut nearly 15 pounds between Wednesday afternoon’s weigh-in and the opening bell.
“My muscles were so cramped, but I’m not making excuses,” Dillingham said. “Maybe there were a lot of things I could have done differently, but he’s a tough kid, a lot more experienced than I am. Hats off to him. You have to go back to the drawing board, and I’ll be back stronger.”
Peterson (7-4) doesn’t remember many of the details about his 18-second loss to Dave Vitkay (12-12) of Atlanta.
He was staggered across the ring by a kick that resounded and drew oohs and ahhs throughout the arena. It left a red circle the size of a small frisbee underneath Peterson’s right pectoral muscle, one that was visible 20 minutes later.
As Peterson was coming to his senses, Vitkay pulled the local fighter on top of him and applied a guillotine choke.
“I knew he was a black belt in jiu-jitsu and I knew he had a great guillotine. I watched seven of his fights end that way, so I knew it was coming,” Peterson said.
Instead of tapping out, Peterson lost consciousness before referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the proceedings.
“You weren’t going to see me tap. It got all dark and peaceful, and honestly that’s probably the most relaxing part of my life,” Peterson joked.
Peterson said he will “re-evaluate” his career before committing to fight at the next New England Fights card in May.
“Sometimes in this game you have to do that,” he said. “(Stuff) happens, but I’m kind of heartbroken right now.”
Vince Murdock of Sacramento, Calif., celebrated his 22nd birthday in style, stopping 36-year-old local favorite John Raio of Gardiner late in the third and final round.
Murdock successfully kept Raio pinned to the mat for most of the opening round. In the second, he opened a nasty gash on Raio’s forehead above his right eye. It sent blood spilling down both temples to Raio’s neck and necessitated a brief stoppage before referee Kevin MacDonald allowed the fight to continue.
Raio successfully extended the bout by turning it into a stand-up scrap for the remainder of the second and much of the third stanza.
“My strategy was to keep it as a stand-up. I have a tough chin. Nobody’s knocked me down or really fazed me yet,” Raio said. “I fought to the best of my ability. I was a little too hesitant at times, but I’m gaining my confidence as I fight. This was my seventh fight in 13 months (amateur and pro combined), so I’m still learning my stand-up.”
Murdock worked Raio back to the mat, holding him in a prone position for more than a minute.
That led to a sweeping right elbow that dazed Raio and set up an eight-punch fusillade to end it.
Raio (0-2) was only 59 seconds away from going the distance against Murdock (2-0, 2 KO).
An hour after the fight, Raio still carried the remnants of an ice bag, wearing the welt on his head and the stitches holding it together as a badge of honor.
“It was humbling when they called me,” said Raio, who was a champion wrestler in high school and college and is a postman by trade. “I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a dream I never thought was possible.”
Raio’s was the only preliminary fight not to end in the first round.
Jon Lemke of Bangor was the only Maine fighter to prevail, stopping Erickson in the latter’s pro debut.
British kickboxing specialist Michael Page used his hands to produce the quickest ending of the night, catching Sanders with a right cross to the right temple for a 10-second KO.
North Carolina’s Joe Pacheco and Ohio’s Jason Butcher scored submission wins.