New England’s Next: Dinis Paiva’s overdue Contender Series shot puts him in spotlight

Dinis Paiva (right) throws a punch. Credit: Will Paul, CES MMA

If you have ever had the pleasure of being at a live Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES MMA) event as Dinis Paiva (13-7) walks to the cage, you’ve heard the thunderous roar of the Twin River Casino crowd. There isn’t much like it on the regional MMA scene. If you closed your eyes, you may think you were at a UFC event judging by the rowdy applause.

Paiva draws that type of hype from his supporters, and he always has.

The 13-7 professional cage fighter is from East Providence, Rhode Island, although he has called Massachusetts home for a decade. One might look at Paiva’s record and be disinterested with his future prospects, but Paiva has been a man ready for war against anyone for a long time; records do not define fighters, their battles are the defining feature, and Paiva has battled his whole career.

A former wrestler, Paiva had a rough start to his MMA career. After winning his debut via first-round TKO at CES 6, Paiva would lose three straight fights to follow. Thus, Paiva would begin his career with a subpar record of 3-5. But then things changed for the Rhode Islander, as he realized MMA and competing was the right road for him. It took the correct faces around Paiva to realize his talent was special.

“Mike Gresh, aka ‘Loco Lobo,’ he kind of got into my ear and told me I had all of these different attributes and assets that could really get me to the next level. I just needed to put things together and he was that guy who did that,” Paiva told Cageside Press’ Daniel Vreeland in a recent interview. “I started from scratch all over again and I started surrounding myself with a professional team and doing the right things. Winning started coming and it came in pretty dominant fashion.”

Paiva began training under Mike Gresh at Juniko in Massachusetts. Since the underwhelming 3-5 start to his career, the now 32-year-old Paiva has been a victor of 10 of his last 12 appearances, with his only losses coming to Cody Nordby (9-6) back in 2015, and the UFC’s Andre Ewell (16-6).

Of Paiva’s impressive 13 wins on the regional scene, nine have come by finish, and seven haven’t left the first round. He sports seven wins by KO/TKO and two via submission, holding wins over some of the top regional names and the UFC’s Jordan Espinosa (15-7).

Now, he faces his biggest opportunity yet on the Contender Series against Driscoll. 

Paiva stands at 5’9 with an approximate 72″ reach. This will match well with the similar reach of Driscoll, although Driscoll stands at 6′ tall. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) fighter stands at 11-3 professionally and is riding a six-fight winning streak. Paiva has won six of his last seven.

One thing is for sure, you couldn’t possibly name many fighters that are more deserving of this shot at the UFC contract than Paiva is at this stage of his career. Beginning his career in his early 20’s, overcoming a rough start, and fighting anyone along the way to this spot.

You can’t mention the New England regional scene without speaking of CES’ star, Dinis “Sweetbread” Paiva.