A man with a tattoo on his arm is being congratulated by a referee.

Gary Balletto Jr. aims to become a 2-division World Champion on Friday, Foxwoods

Gary “Batman” Balletto Jr. is looking to add more championship hardware to the Balletto family name.  On Friday, February 23, the caped crusader faces Pat “The Gorilla Ninja” Casey for the vacant CES MMA World Welterweight title.

The bout is the CES MMA 76 main event, topping a 7-fight card from Foxwoods Resort Casinoin Mashantucket, CT, that will be streamed live on TrillerTV.  Prelims begin at 8pm and are available for free here. The main card starts at 9pm and can be purchased on pay-per-view here.  

Tickets for CES MMA 76 are on sale now at CESfights.comticketmaster, or the Foxwoods Box Office.  Act now as this event is virtually sold out!   

This is the second title fight in a row for Balletto Jr., who won the vacant CES MMA Middleweight title last July in his hometown of Cranston, Rhode Island.  In that bout, Balletto Jr. moved up a weight class to battle the bigger James “The Loose” Cannon. 

While some thought that Cannon’s physicality might overwhelm Balletto Jr. early on, the 29-year-old used superior technique to submit Cannon via rare naked choke in round 2.

“I thought he would avoid a grappling match and try to throw his shot,” explains Balletto Jr. of how he imagined the fight playing out.  “Cannon immediately felt uncomfortable in the fight.  I could feel that.  He wanted to clinch up and it ended up becoming a battle on the ground.  It went pretty much how I hoped it would go.”  

The win made Balletto Jr. a world champion at 28-years-old, the same age his father, Gary Sr., was when he won the International Boxing Union world title in March 2003.

“It was 20 years ago almost to the day, so that was really cool,” reflects Balletto Jr.  “Winning the world title in my hometown with all of my people there made it special.”

While Balletto Jr. felt good at middleweight, he admits that welterweight is a better fit for him.

“I felt physically better when I weighed-in at middleweight, but it’s definitely a weight class that’s a bit too heavy for me,” admits Balletto Jr.  “I didn’t find it to be an issue in the Cannon fight, but there are guys out there who are monsters.  They walk around at 225 and their frame is one where when they rehydrate, they’re much bigger.”  

To avoid the size disadvantage he is likely to encounter at middleweight, Balletto Jr. decided to drop back down to welterweight, where the playing field is more even physically.  Only 7 months from his title winning effort, Batman is fighting for a vacant title in a second weight class.  

In his way is Pat Casey, an athletically gifted fighter from Springfield, MA, who is seeking championship glory of his own. 

“I’ve known of him for a while now,” says Balletto Jr. when asked about Casey.  “I think I have a lot more boxing experience, and more experience all around as far as how early I got started in combat sports.  He’s had a lot of fights and I’m sure he has a lot of experience too.  He strikes me more like a brawler than a technician.  I think that’s the main difference between us.  He’s a brawler and I’m a technician.”  

Indeed, whereas Balletto Jr. has been around combat sports his entire life, taking up boxing, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Judo since he was 8 years old, Casey began training in MMA at 25.  The Springfield native makes up for that lack of experience with physicality and athleticism, which he believes will be too much for Balletto Jr. to handle.

“Pat is on the smaller end of the guys I’m used to,” counters Balletto Jr.  “My training partners are heavyweights, they are 230-pound Division 1 college wrestlers, so I’m used to the strength and the explosiveness.  I’m sure he’s very strong and explosive.  I used to be explosive too, but the more experienced I became, the more I lean into my technique rather than explosiveness.”

Balletto Jr. believes that the key to longevity in the sport and in a fight is to pace yourself rather than go all-out in an effort to overwhelm your opponent, and he is confident that when Casey begins to tire, he will take control of the contest.

“From what I’ve seen from his fights, he likes to go right for it, which I respect,” explains Balletto Jr.  “I think a fight’s a fight: go out on your shield or come home with their heads, so I respect it, but I’m not worried about his strength and physicality.  At the end of the day, no matter how good of a shape you’re in, if you’re exerting yourself at 100%, you’re not going to last very long.” 

Assuming the fight plays out how he envisions it, Balletto Jr. will have a decision to make on Saturday morning as to whether he plans on defending his middleweight or welterweight titles.  

“I don’t really think that far ahead, I just do things,” responds Balletto matter of factly.  “I never really have a solid plan.  I’d be happy to defend both titles or I might wake up tomorrow morning and agree to a boxing match.  It all depends on the opportunity.  At the end of the day, I do this because it’s a part of me.  It’s who I am, and I enjoy it.  And when I say I enjoy it, I mean that I enjoy all aspects of combat sports, whether it’s boxing, kickboxing, MMA, a different weight class, anything.  I love it all and I like to challenge myself in different ways.  I’m not deep in my head about my ambition in the sport, I just do things.”

Fighting for world titles back-to-back in two different weight classes isn’t bad for a man who lives in the moment and doesn’t claim to be ambitious.  The key to his success is that he enjoys what he does, and we enjoy watching him do it.   

For more information on CES MMA 76 and all other CES MMA events, visit

CES MMA is a mixed martial arts promotional company based out of Providence, R.I., founded by legendary boxing promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr. It promoted the first sanctioned professional MMA event in 2010. In 2012, CES MMA promoted its first pay-per-view event featuring the professional MMA debut of former WWE superstar Dave Bautista.

CES MMA has gained the reputation as being the gateway to the UFC developing the careers of UFC contenders Calvin Kattar, Rob Font, Charles Rosa, William Knight, Mike Rodriguez, Tony Gravely, Andre Soukhamthath and others.

About Foxwoods Resort Casino
Foxwoods Resort Casino offers guests a premier destination resort experience throughout its six world-class casinos, AAA Four-Diamond hotels featuring over 2,200 rooms, dining options for all tastes, luxurious spas, award-winning golf, state-of-the-art theaters, Tanger Outlet Mall and conference space for groups of all sizes. There is always something new at Foxwoods, including the recently announced landmark deal with Great Wolf Lodge, opening in 2024, our new 80,000 sq ft expo center opening in November 2022 and a new High Stakes Bingo Hall which opened July 2022, giving guests more reasons to stay than ever. When it comes to sports betting and gaming, Foxwoods has partnerships with fan-favorite betting and entertainment platforms, including DraftKings and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe’s recently formed Wondr Nation. For a detailed look at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation visit

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