PROVIDENCE, R.I.: Bruce Boyington is all business. While traveling to sunny Redondo Beach, CA, would be a vacation for most, CES MMA’s reigning featherweight world champion is there to sharpen his skills in preparation for his first title defense next Friday in Hartford, CT.
The Milford, ME native spent a week and a half training at Blackhouse MMA, home to UFC legends B.J. Penn, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, among others. On Friday, May 31st, 2019, he fights for the first time since capturing the then vacant CES MMA title when he faces challengerDan Dubuque (8-2, 2 KOs) in a five-round bout, headlining CES MMA 56 at the Connecticut Convention Center live on UFC Fight Pass.
Tickets for the event start at $35.00 and are available for purchase online at www.cesmma.com or www.ctconventions.com or by phone at 401-724-2253. All fights and fighters subject to change.
For Boyington (16-11, 7 KOs), there’s a noticeable benefit to training with some of the sport’s upper-echelon fighters. He first made the trip a year ago prior to his title bout against former UFC vet Sean Soriano, a fight in which he was a 4-to-1 underdog. Boyington pulled off the upset on AXS TV, submitting Soriano via rear-naked choke at CES 51.
Now the pilgrimage to southern Los Angeles is a must for Boyington, whose experience rolling with the likes of Machida and UFC welterweight contender Kevin Lee is the equivalent of a slugger swinging a weighted bat in the on-deck circle. In addition to expanding his horizons by training out west, Boyington also switched camps a year ago and now works with Titan Athletics in Brewer, which he says has put him in “a whole new category as far as being a fighter goes.”
“Nothing against Dan, but when you test yourself against fighters like that and then come back and fight a guy like Dan, it’s beneficial to know you’re not going against a guy who’s as good as those guys,” Boyington said. “Maybe he is that good, but he hasn’t gone to the UFC and fought guys like that. Mentally, it does a lot for me.”
Boyington, who turned 40 in May, uses whatever he can as motivation, whether it’s being labeled an underdog by the odds-makers like he was against Soriano, or quips about his age, which seems him to annoy him the most.
A lifelong athlete who has always kept himself in impeccable shape, Boyington feels better than ever as he puts the finishing touches on his latest training camp. He started taekwondo at a young age and enlisted in the U.S. Marines out of high school, eventually teaching taekwondo to corpsmen in between deployments. In his four years of active duty, he spent time in Afghanistan, Greece, Albania and Macedonia and was stationed in Kosovo during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Life in mixed martial arts has kept him equally well-traveled; in between bouts on the regional circuit, Boyington headlined a fight card in Russia and also faced Andre Harrison at Madison Square Garden four months later for World Series of Fighting. Both the military and MMA have had a profound impact on his life, teaching him discipline and routine and forcing him to adhere to a strict code of ethics he maintains both in and out of the cage. When he’s not preparing for an upcoming fight, he runs his own school in nearby Brewer, appropriately named Boyington’s Taekwondo Academy.
There’s no doubt what keeps him motivated — it’s his love of competition and the burning desire to keep proving people wrong. The underdog mentality has served him well through the years. “I think there’s a lot more pressure when you’re not the underdog,” he said. “I just don’t like being counted out. I don’t like people underestimating me. People talk about my age, as if that has anything to do with how I am as a fighter, and it fuels me to defy the odds.”
Dubuque, a Waterbury, CT, native, will have the crowd on his side as he enters the title fight on a four fight win streak, including his most recent bout at CES 55. But Boyington is more confident than ever in his training and tutelage. In the past, he’s had difficulty preparing for fights due to a lack of training partners, or with outside distractions, but his business trip out west helped clear his mind, which may end up being more important than anything else.
“Being out there allowed me to put all of my focus on my training,” Boyington said. “When I come home, I’m in a good place, and I get to come out on fight night with an entire team behind me. All of those things play a big role. Rolling with guys who are all pushing me, knowing my body is conditioned, puts me in a good place mentally. It feels great. I’m focusing on all the right things.”
CES 56 is available on UFC Fight Pass with Michael Parente handling play-by-play alongside color commentator and longtime UFC vet “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Canadian MMA analyst Robin Black. Fights start at 6:30 p.m. ET with the live stream beginning at 8.
CES 56 also features the CES MMA debut of Springfield, Mass., lightweight Nick Newell (14-2, 2 KOs), who faces Texas’ Antonio Castillo (10-10, 1 KO), plus the return of Oyster Bay, N.Y., native John Gotti III (3-0, 3 KOs) in a welterweight bout against David Espino (3-2, 2 KOs) of Quincy, Mass.