Today, New England-based MMA promotion CES MMA announced a high-profile heavyweight headliner between Rhode Island’s own Greg Rebello (24-9) and New Hampshire’s Kevin Haley (6-5) for the CES heavyweight title on the upcoming CES 57 card.
Rebello, 36, is a New England MMA legend. The CES heavyweight champion briefly retired in June of last year following a TKO loss to TUF alumnus Josh Parisian on that 2018’s season of the Contender Series. However, at CES 57, Rebello will return to the cage for the first time in 2019.
A sixteen-fight CES veteran, Rebello has built up a large following in the New England region. “Ribz” is a tried and true finisher, having won seventeen fights by way of stoppage. Of those seventeen, fifteen came by way of knockout, with the remaining two stoppages by way of submission.
Like many fighters, Rebello always yearned to fight on the sport’s biggest stages. In addition to fighting for CES, where he currently holds the heavyweight title, Rebello fought for Bellator twice (1-1) and thrice auditioned for a UFC bid.
In 2010, Rebello tried out for The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 as a middleweight. Rebello fell short against Josh Bryant in the opening round. That season, fought between Team Liddell and Team Ortiz, featured the likes of Court McGee, Brad Tavares, Jamie Yager, and other notables.
Then, in 2017, Rebello was a contestant on the inaugural season of the Contender Series. Rebello lost to eventual UFC veteran Azunna “Zulu” Anyanwu (15-5) via second-round TKO.
Two wins later, Rebello received another chance on the Contender Series, but again lost, this time to the aforementioned Parisian, who received a shot on The Ultimate Fighter Season 28. Following the loss to Parisian, Rebello announced his retirement on Twitter, stating, “Thanks for the love everyone. (Expletive) happens. I’ve accomplished everything n (sic) more in this sport. That was the last one thank you”.
Now, though, it seems like there’s one more item on Rebello’s list: a CES title defense.
Standing in Rebello’s way will be fellow New Hampshire’s Kevin Haley, also 36.
Haley is a career light heavyweight but has fought as heavy as 225 pounds, which he did in 2017 at CES 41.
Following a two-fight amateur career in which he went 2-0, Haley turned pro in 2013. Haley rattled off three straight wins to kick off his professional career, two of which wins came under the Cage Titans banner.
After a 3-0 start to his career, Haley dropped three straight – all by finish – including a loss to UFC and CES veteran Eric Spicely (12-4). Haley then, for a second time, won three straight fights, including a win over current UFC light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez (10-3).
That was in 2016. Since his second three-fight winning streak, Haley has lost two fights – one in 2017, and one this year in 2019. Haley returned from a two-year layoff this past January, where he fell to undefeated prospect and soon-to-be Contender Series contestant, William Knight (4-0), via TKO.
Although Haley is on a two-fight losing streak and has rarely competed at heavyweight, he will be Rebello’s first title defense of his CES heavyweight title.
CES 57 takes place on June 7th, live from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The event, which to date only features Greg Rebello vs. Kevin Haley with more bouts coming soon, will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.