Title fights between Arce-Sabatini, Graves-Barret added to ROC 59

Brendan Barrett (left) vs. Shelton Graves (right) square off at Ring of Combat 56 weigh-ins on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo Credit: Ring of Combat).


At Ring of Combat 59, Featherweight Champion Julio Arce (11-2 MMA, 8-2 ROC) will look to defend his title against Pat Sabatini (6-1 MMA, 1-0). In another title bout, Brendan Barrett (10-7-1 MMA, 5-3-1 ROC) will look to regain his title when he faces current ROC Heavyweight Champion Shelton Graves (5-3 MMA, 1-1) at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey Friday, June 2, 2017.

For the first time in his career, Arce defended his 145 lbs. strap by submitting Frankie Buenafuente with a second-round rear-naked choke at ROC 58 Feb. 24, 2017. The two fighters met for the first time at ROC 57 where Arce captured the belt by beating Buenafuente via unanimous decision Nov. 18, 2016.

He made the move to featherweight after losing his ROC bantamweight strap to Brian Kelleher by majority decision at ROC 52 Sept. 25, 2015. In the immediate rematch March 4, 2016, Arce tapped to a guillotine choke in the third round at ROC 54.

After suffering back-to-back losses at 135 lbs, Arce made his featherweight debut against Francisco Isata at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 60 Aug. 6, 2016. The 27 year-old finished his opponent with a second-round RNC.

He is currently riding a three-fight win streak with two victories by RNC.

On the same night Arce defended his belt against Buenafuente, Sabatini made his case to be the next challenger. The Pennsylvania native submitted Michael Lawrence with a RNC in the second round of his ROC 58 bout.

The 26-year-old won his last four fights in a row by defeating Lawrence, Renaldo Weekley, William Calhoun III and Tony Gravely. His last defeat is a unanimous decision loss to Robert Watley at CFFC 45 Feb. 7, 2015.

At heavyweight, Graves will look to defend his ROC belt for the first time against the same man he beat for the title.

In his most recent bout, Graves won the strap by earning a third-round TKO finish against Barrett at ROC 56 Sept. 23, 2016. It is one of three-straight victories for him.

In addition to the ROC championship, Graves holds the Global Proving Ground heavyweight title. While with GPG, Graves submitted Lorenzo Hood and earned a unanimous decision against Joe Stripling.

After winning six fights in a row, Barrett suffered his seventh career defeat to Graves in 2016. Barrett won the belt by knocking out Silvio Santos in the first round at ROC 44 April 5, 2013.

The 35-year-old defended the belt twice by finishing Justin Woods and Miodrag Petkovic via TKO.

By Connor Northrup


Writing for NJ MMA New since 2011, Connor is passionate about covering local mixed martial arts. He graduated from Temple University’s School of Media and Communications with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. His love for MMA stems from his past as a high school wrestler and jiu-jitsu blue belt. Former UFC fighter Kurt Pellegrino coached Connor in his senior year of high school. He worked as a Rally Sports Desk report for The Philadelphia Inquirer and interned as a sports reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News.