New England Fights (“NEF”) presents its next mixed-martial-arts event “NEF 57: All the Smoke,” on April 20, 2024, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.  Earlier today, the fight promotion announced the addition of a professional catchweight bout to the card.  Ryan Sanders (22-10) will meet Manny Walo (14-5-1) at a fight weight of 175 pounds.

Sanders and Walo were originally scheduled to meet in the cage at “NEF 8” in July 2013 – the very first MMA event ever held in Bangor.  Walo, however, pulled out of the fight the morning of weigh-ins.

Since that time, “The” Ryan Sanders has been on a tear, putting together 18 wins against just 6 losses. He captured the NEF Professional Lightweight Title in 2017.  Just last year, Sanders took back-to-back wins against the likes of tough opponents Ali Zebian (10-5) and Sage Philippe (4-6).  He is a perfect 5-0 on home soil in Bangor.  Sanders represents VisionQuest Muay Thai (VQMT) based in nearby Pittsfield, Maine.

“The first thing I told my coach and my teammates is, ‘he f$%ked up,’” recalled Sanders upon learning Walo had accepted the fight. “Walo and I were supposed to fight years ago in Bangor. He called the day of weigh-ins and said he wasn’t going to make weight so he wasn’t going to come. I personally messaged him and said, ‘just show up and I’ll fight you at any weight.’ He declined. I’ve only been getting better since then. A lot better. I’m gonna smack him in his mouth until he shoots and then I’ll snatch his neck and eventually his soul. It’s soul snatching season, people. VQMT versus everyone.”

New Jersey’s Manny Walo has faced and defeated some of the biggest names in the northeast over the course of his 13-year career.  He holds two unanimous decision victories over Jon Manley (13-6) who himself defeated Sanders in 2018.  Walo has not competed in the MMA cage since March 2022 when he fought for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC promotion in Florida.  He currently represents Team Renzo Gracie.

“I had the pleasure of attending the previous NEF event and I was very impressed with not only the overall production of the show but just the professionalism of the staff,” said Walo. “Matt (Peterson, NEF co-owner) and his staff were very accommodating to me and my team. I am very happy to be making my return to MMA with a well established promotion like NEF and fighting such a well-traveled and accomplished veteran like Sanders. We were previously slated to fight early on in our careers, but that fight didn’t materialize and now that it’s happening I’m very excited. I think we are much different fighters now and it will be an excellent fight for me to introduce myself to the NEF crowd. See you guys April 20th!”

“NEF 57: All the Smoke” will mark NEF’s debut in the Cross Insurance Center arena, the room that played host to the UFC’s only stop in Maine to date back in 2014 for “UFC Fight Night 47.” Doors will open at 5 pm with the first fight taking place at 6 pm on April 20. Tickets are on sale now at

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