Sanders vs Zebian Announced


New England Fights returns to Merrill Auditorium in Portland with its next mixed-martial-arts (MMA) event, “NEF 53: American Valor,” on Saturday, July 8, 2023.  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of a professional welterweight bout to the card.  “The” Ryan Sanders (20-10) will face Ali “V.I.P.” Zebian (9-3) at a fight weight of 170 pounds.

Ryan Sanders has had one of the most storied careers in NEF history.  From main eventing “NEF 1” in February 2012 to challenging for the welterweight title three times to winning the promotion’s professional lightweight belt, Sanders has had a second home in the NEF cage over the years.  He is an impressive 10-2 in his last twelve MMA fights with eight finishes during that run.  Sanders will look to bounce back from a loss last November at “NEF 50.”  He currently represents VisionQuest Muay Thai based in Pittsfield, Maine.

“I’ve been trying to get a fight since last November, but no one wanted to scrap,” noted Sanders. “Luckily, Ali stepped up so I can get back to what I do best and that’s snatching souls. My coach, Primo, and all the killers at VQMT will have me ready for war come July 8th. Let’s get it!”

Ali Zebian will step into the NEF cage for the first time ever on July 8.  A native of Westfield, Massachusetts, Zebian has made a name for himself not only on the regional New England MMA circuit but also at the national level.  He has competed for top promotions Bellator, Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), and Professional Fighters League (PFL).  The fight with Sanders will be another step up in weight for Zebian who has competed recently at lightweight and previously at featherweight and bantamweight.  He represents Underground MMA Fight Club based in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

“Freedom is in victory,” said Zebian when reached for comment.

“NEF 53: American Valor” takes place on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine.  Doors are scheduled to open at 6 pm with first fight taking place at 7 pm.  Tickets to “NEF 53” are available now at

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