Andre Ewell made the most of the narrowest of openings.
The Apex MMA representative countered a takedown attempt with a tight brabo choke and submitted hometown favorite Dinis Paiva to capture the vacant CES MMA bantamweight championship in the third round of their CES 50 headliner on Friday at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Ewell (13-4, 1-0 CES MMA) brought it to a close 36 seconds into Round 3.
Paiva (11-7, 11-7 CES MMA) staggered the King of the Cage veteran with a left cross and kept him off-balance with repeated takedowns in the first round. That set the stage for the remarkable second. Ewell rattled the Team Sityodtong standout with a multi-punch burst and opened a cut near his right eye, as he appeared to seize momentum. However, Paiva bounced back late in the frame and nearly submitted the Californian with a rear-naked choke in the waning moments, their back-and-forth struggle for supremacy bringing the crowd to a boil.
When Paiva shot for another takedown at the start of the third round, Ewell was waiting -- and ready. He sprawled out of danger, snaked his arms in place for the brabo choke, maintained his grip as Paiva struggled to free himself and prompted the tapout.
In the welterweight co-main event, Jeremiah Wells leaned on brutal punching combinations, strategic takedowns and devastating ground-and-pound in capturing a unanimous decision from “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 alum Jon Manley. All three cageside judges scored it for Wells (5-1-1, 2-0 CES MMA): 30-27, 30-26 and 29-28.
Manley (9-5, 2-2 CES) survived a horrendous amount of punishment and even threatened to finish it with a rear-naked choke in the second round. However, his durability only went so far. Wells had him reeling with punches on multiple occasions and more than kept pace on the ground, where he advanced to dominant positions and cut loose with punches, elbows and hammerfists from above.
The 31-year-old Manley has lost three fights in a row.
Meanwhile, Rivera Athletic Center prospect Jose Lugo submitted Michael Taylor with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their flyweight showcase. Taylor (0-2, 0-2 CES MMA) bowed out 91 seconds into Round 2.
Lugo (3-0, 3-0 CES MMA) rebounded from early trouble to seize control in the first round, where he executed multiple takedowns, advanced to full mount and dropped punches and elbows before fishing the rear-naked choke. The bell saved Taylor but only prolonged the inevitable. Lugo struck for another takedown inside the first minute of the middle stanza, climbed to mount and forced his rapidly deteriorating counterpart to surrender his back. Soon after the choke was in place and Taylor’s fate was sealed.
In other action, Reginaldo Felix wiped out Pat McCrohan with punches 4:42 into the second round of their middleweight confrontation; Kris Moutinho took care of Alfred Jones with punches 1:58 into the first round of their showdown at 135 pounds; Adam Acquaviva dispatched John Douma with a volley of elbows from the mounted crucifix 2:47 into the third round of their bantamweight encounter; Fabio Cherant submitted Marquis Allen with a guillotine choke 3:55 into the first round of their light heavyweight scrap; Toby Oden claimed a unanimous decision over Jeremy Puglia in a three-round catchweight clash at 175 pounds, drawing 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges; Brandon Marotte cut down Arslan Otchiyev with knees and punches 4:47 into the first round of their light heavyweight tilt; Hilarie Rose submitted Thais Souza with a guillotine choke 2:16 into the second round of their flyweight affair; and Yorgan De Castro stopped David White with punches 2:20 into the third round of their light heavyweight pairing.