East Providence's Rebello defends CES MMA heavyweight title

City resident Paiva makes successful return to featherweight ranks

Story by Mat Galvao/Photos by Rich Dionne
Posted 7/30/19

LINCOLN — A year removed from his last fight, East Providence's Greg Rebello (25-9) defended his title as the promotion’s heavyweight champion at CES 57 last Friday night, July 26, in the main …

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East Providence's Rebello defends CES MMA heavyweight title

City resident Paiva makes successful return to featherweight ranks


LINCOLN — A year removed from his last fight, East Providence's Greg Rebello (25-9) defended his title as the promotion’s heavyweight champion at CES 57 last Friday night, July 26, in the main event against Kevin Haley (6-5) at Twin River Casino. Rebello took the victory via knockout 3:45 into the first round.

“Coming back here is everything to me. I love it. I love Twin River. They’ve been so good to me,” said Rebello. “I’ve had some really exciting fights here and it meant everything for me to be able to come back and have everybody come out.”

In the past year leading up to this fight, Rebello had been dealing with a broken hand in which he suffered on February of 2018 in a fight with Travis Wiuff for the World Heavyweight Championship in which he won.

Rebello then took a fight with the UFC four months after the injury in Dana White’s Contender Series out in Las Vegas against Josh Parisian. He was defeated with a spinning back fist 1:31 into the match.

“I really had a bad hand injury. Going into my last fight in Vegas I could barely punch mitts, my sparring everything was awful,” Rebello said. “I was twenty pounds heavier because I couldn’t train like I normally do. It just didn’t heal properly.

“The UFC called and offered me a fight and you can’t say no. I went into that fight and I was two fifty-five. I was fat and out of shape. Tonight I was two thirty-four with my clothes on. I was ready to go five five minute rounds, it wouldn’t bother me.”

Going into Friday nights bout, Rebello knew what to expect from his opponent. He and Haley know each other pretty well being two fighters based out of New England so there was a lot of familiarity going into the fight.

“Kevin and I are buddies. I wanna say this is the first guy I fought from New England in a long time. They usually fly guys out for me,” Rebello explained. “I’m a lot bigger and stronger than he is. He’s a good wrestler, he’s a good grappler. He’s beaten a couple of my friends who are in the UFC right now. He’s good...he’s legit but I knew I was a bad matchup for him.”

Rebello defended an early attack from Haley in the opening moments of Friday nights taking a couple of kicks but was able to dodge and block punches that were thrown his way from Haley. Rebello was patient picking his spots and was able to land a hard left then right hook to finish off Haley 3:48 into the first round securing his 25 professional victory in the octagon.

“I’m a smart guy. A lot of people see the knockouts and they think I’m a brawler but I don’t brawl out. I didn’t get hit one time. I got kicked in the leg a couple times but I pick my poison,” Rebello explained. “I saw that he was really forcing right hands. I was taking my time, throwing a lot of faints and circling.

“I was taking more lateral movements and circles more than I was going straight forward. He was shooting and popping his head up so I tried to hit him with the left hand right hook.”

After rumors this could be his last professional fight, the 37-year old Rebello isn’t committing to anything fighting-wise yet and is staying in the moment, but admits he still loves to compete in the octagon.

“I didn’t start training until I was twenty-four so I don’t have a ton of miles on me. Guys that box, they’re done by my age, usually. They start boxing at eight years old and have a huge amateur career. They have a lot more miles than I do on my body,” said Rebello. “You never get sick of doing what you love and I love to compete, I love the energy...I love it.”

Similarly, after a 13 month absence from professional MMA, East Providence’s Dinis “Sweetbread” Paiva made his return to the octagon vs. Antonio Castillo Jr. in a featherweight on Friday's undercard. Just 2:48 into the first round, Paiva, delivered two quick blows to Castillo earning Paiva the win by first round knockout.

“I live for what I do. I love doing this. When you’re not doing it you’re not yourself and I haven’t been the same man in the last thirteen months,” said Paiva after his knockout win. “I feel like I got a piece of me back tonight.”

The city native was scheduled to fight back in November of 2018 at the bantamweight class but was hospitalized during his weight cut and the fight scheduled to be against Tony Gravely was then canceled.

“I got hospitalized during the weight cut. One thirty-five has been a hard weight for me to make over the years,” Paiva explained. “My body has continued to expand. I’m thirty-one not twenty-something odd years old. I’m getting bigger as time goes on. The cut got heavier and I took some time off. Sometimes you need the time off.”

Paiva and his opponent Castillo traded chances early on in the first round with kicks and punches being thrown both ways. The 31-year old Paiva knew getting shots on his opponent early would be beneficial in earning a win in his first professional MMA fight in over a year.

“I knew he was a tough kid. Coming into the fight he had won eight fights by decision, one by knockout and one by submission. I knew striking and offensive jiu-jitsu wasn’t really his forte,” said Paiva. “I really wanted to get to his body early in the fight.”

Just 2:48 into the first round Paiva delivered a right jab and then left to Castillo that would secure the knockout win for Paiva, the 12th victory in his professional MMA career. He now improves to 12-7 in his pro career which includes seven knockout wins and two by way of submission.

“I wanted to take his sails away and his legs out from under him in that sense. I think it opened up some of the shots,” Paiva said post-fight. “I had to get back to the jab. When I started throwing the lead hand it opened up.”

It was an emotional night for Paiva who dedicated the fight to his MMA coach Keith Allen who recently passed away.

“It was for him, man. It was for him. He was with me tonight,” said Paiva.

Throughout his life Paiva’s mother has been a big supporter. Whether it was his boxing matches in middle school or wrestling in high school or even in his professional MMA career. He has never lost with her in attendance and the streak was kept this past Friday night.

“I’ve never lost in front of my mother. That’s my good luck charm,” Paiva said. “To see your child get into a cage fight with professional athletes from all over the country, it’s hard. My mom has been one of my biggest supporters throughout life and I wouldn’t be here without her. It means everything.”

As for what’s next for Paiva, he expressed wanting to get back in the octagon for another fight before the year is out if there is another card available for him to participate in.

“I’d like to get another fight in before the year is out. Sometime after October, maybe late-November, December if possible if they have a card available. Right now I have to soak this all in,” Paiva said.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.