Well-rested Felix ends 14-month layoff Friday in hopes of reclaiming top spot in 155-pound weight class
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 27th, 2017) — Luis Felix knows he can’t fight forever, so as long as he can physically compete, he wants to step inside that cage as often as possible.
There’s no concern of another catastrophic injury or devastating setback. The Providence, R.I., lightweight, who turns 33 in October, understands the journey back to the top of his division must start now.
“This is what I love to do and I don’t want to do it forever,” said Felix (14-9, 5 KOs), who faces Dawond Pickney (10-6, 7 KOs) at Twin River Casino Friday night on the main card of “CES MMA 42” on AXS TV, his first fight in 14 months.
“The time I spend doing it over the next couple of years, I want to do it as often as possible. Then I have the rest of my life to heal up or for whatever other adventure life has in store.”
Though Felix hasn’t put a timetable on the final stretch of his career – “I think you know when it’s your time,” he said – he admits he doesn’t see himself fighting past 35 or 36, which is usually the age when most fighters begin to pursue other interests.
There’s no doubt Felix, when healthy, is one of the region’s top lightweights; he won six of seven fights during a four-year stretch from 2010 to 2014, going from journeyman to legitimate title contender, and showed poise in rebounding from a loss to Julian Lane on national television by beating Lane one year later in the rematch to capture the CES MMA World Lightweight Title.
The affable, fan-favorite appeared poised for a long title until a knee injury during a non-title defense against Ryan Sanders in January of 2016 forced him to submit. He planned on officially defending the title against Sanders five months later, but simply wasn’t ready physically, so he withdrew from the fight.
Felix spent more than a year on the shelf rehabilitating, waiting until he was 100 percent – or close enough to it – before resuming a career that showed so much promise heading into 2016.
While taking time away from the sport, Felix began thinking about life after MMA. He began volunteering with the non-profit Arts, Sports and Technology Resource Organization (ASTRO), aimed toward providing underprivileged youth in urban communities the chance to learn mixed martial arts in hopes of creating a culture that promotes equality while inspiring social change.
He also teamed with Social Sparks in Lincoln, R.I., a social learning center for children with autism that teaches a weekly Teen Rockin’ Boxing class on Saturdays. In addition, Felix works as an assistant wrestling coach for Johnson & Wales University in Providence, which recently placed a school-record five All-Americans at the NCAA Division III Championships and finished fourth in the country overall.
To further his cause, Felix is donating a portion of his earnings from March 31st to ASTRO, which hopes to raise $65,000 by the fall.
“For me, fighting is something I don’t consider work because it’s fun for me. I want to be able to enjoy the things I do, and working with these kids is the same way,” Felix said.
“Growing up, my coaches in sports where the ones who kept me out of trouble and kept me on the path where I am today. It’s a way out for a lot of kids. Sports has been my life and I know how much it’s helped a lot of kids I grew up with. For me to able to give back and do something I love, it’s a no-brainer for me.
“I’ve seen a lot of change in some of the kids who’ve gone through the program. MMA is not an interscholastic sport, so we’re giving them an opportunity to do something they wouldn’t be able to do if it weren’t for the organization offering it for free.”
Now that he’s less than a week from returning to the cage, Felix can further use his platform to promote his work within the community. Fighting, however, remains his No. 1 priority as long as he stays healthy and shows no side effects from his time away from the sport.
“I want to fifth every couple of months. I just don’t want the injuries,” Felix said. “It’s not a fear of getting hurt. I just literally haven’t been able to do what I want to do.
“It’s crazy because even after the injury happened and I took some time off, it never went away. It’s always kind of there. I had to take so much time off doing nothing and going back to basics healing my body from within to finally get to where I am now where I feel physically strong and ready to let loose.
“As far as those injuries from before, if I’m good to go, I have no fear of what can happen. Once you start fighting with the fear, you should probably start letting it go.”
Friday’s fight against Pickney, an Arkansas native, could be the first of many for Felix in 2017 as he looks to rejoin the conversation in the 155-pound weight class. He knows his career won’t last forever, so he must give everything he has physically and mentally while he still can. No reservations. No fear.
“Sometimes fighters stay in the game too long. It affects you later in life,” he said. “As much as I love fighting, it’s not everything. You can only be a savage and have this mentality for so long and then you have to move on and do something else in life.
“Fighting won’t be there forever. You can pass on the knowledge to people coming up, but, as far as being able to do it physically, there’s a window. I don’t think about it too much, but it’s there.”
“CES MMA 42” airs live on AXS TV’s AXS TV Fights beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Doors open at 6 and the preliminary card begins at 7.
Tickets are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Ohio’s Chris Curtis (14-5, 5 KOs), the reigning CES MMA World Welterweight Champion, defends his title against Lawrence, Mass., vet Wilfredo Santiago (7-3, 6 KOs) in the five-round main event, one of seven televised bouts on the main card.
Also starring on the televised main card, Fall River, Mass., ligthweight Josh LaBerge (11-5, 5 KOs) steps up to face longtime CES MMA vet Saul Almeida (18-8, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., and Woonsocket, R.I., flyweight Kody Nordby (8-4) aims for his third consecutive win in his ninth appearance with CES MMA when he faces Bellingham, Mass., native David Baxter (4-1, 1 KO), who recently earned his second win in a row by submitting Dan Cormier at “CES MMA 41” in January.
Johnston, R.I., featherweight Joe Pingitore (7-3, 2 KOs) also returns to the CES MMA cage in a featured bout against Cortland, N.Y., vet Kenny Foster (11-11, 1 KO). A former CES MMA world-title challenger, Pingitore made quick work of Spencer Higa at “CES MMA 40,” submitting his opponent at 4:54 of the opening round via guillotine. Foster last fought at “CES MMA 34” in a narrow, split-decision loss to Calvin Kattar.
Stoughton, Mass., cruiserweight and former Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) vet Pat Walsh (10-2, 4 KOs) makes his sixth appearance with CES MMA in a showdown against Brazilian Dirlei Broenstrup (14-4, 5 KOs), a winner in eight of his last nine bouts. Walsh has won his last five, including back-to-back victories with CES MMA, most recently in January via submission against Kevin Haley.
Rounding out the main card, Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (3-0, 1 KO) makes his network television debut in just his fourth fight with CES MMA when he battles Ontario’s Lloyd Reyes (4-3, 2 KOs). Moutinho fights for the fourth time since September, a run that includes his first knockout win at “CES MMA 41” via head kick against Jason Rine. The red-hot Reyes has won four of his last five – three by stoppage – after suffering losses in his first two professional bouts.
The return of Cranston, R.I., welterweight prospect Gary Balletto Jr. (2-1, 1 KO) and unbeaten Providence bantamweight Marquis Brewster (2-0) highlights the preliminary card. Balletto Jr. aims for his third consecutive win against Syracuse native Chris Torres (0-0) while Brewster battles newcomer Cody Hier of Philadelphia.
Fresh off her debut win at “CES MMA 41” female flyweight Maria Rivera (1-0) of Framingham, Mass., battles Hot Springs newcomer Jessica Sotack and unbeaten bantamweight Richie Santiago (3-0) battles Winchendon, Mass., native Chad Kelly (3-3, 1 KO). Santiago is undefeated under the guidance of CES MMA with all three wins by submission.
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