In just over one year’s time, mixed martial arts organization Cage Fighting Xtreme has established itself as a dominant force in New England. And West Bridgewater native and current Easton resident Lee “The Beast” Beane, crowned at CFX 5: “Mayhem in Mansfield” as the first ever CFX heavyweight champion, has proven to be a dominant force as well.
In just over one year’s time, mixed martial arts organization Cage Fighting Xtreme has established itself as a dominant force in New England.
And West Bridgewater native and current Easton resident Lee “The Beast” Beane, crowned at CFX 5: “Mayhem in Mansfield” as the first ever CFX heavyweight champion, has proven to be a dominant force as well.
In order to crown a heavyweight champion, the CFX established an eight-man heavyweight tournament to begin at its August show. Although the perceived tournament favorite, Beane’s victory in a sport as unpredictable as mixed martial arts was anything but guaranteed.
“It was big,” Beane said of winning the title. “The CFX is growing, and I hope to grow with the organization. Winning the title is another step.”
At 6 foot 1 and 265 pounds, Beane’s strength is especially in evidence when displaying his trademark wrestling ability. Beane’s superior wrestling and ground and pound prowess make him one of the most frightening opponents in the area, and Beane explained that his start in wrestling, like mixed martial arts, seemed to come naturally him.
“I started wrestling at Bridgewater-Raynham high school,” Beane said. “And I won a state title - and I was competing with kids who had been wrestling since they were six or seven years old. So I’ve always been gifted athletically. I’ve got the size, strength and speed and the aggression, the anger. I pick up sports well.”
Beane certainly picked up wrestling, compiling over 150 wins against a mere six losses. “I was an All-American,” Beane said. “And that was a great experience. I went to the nationals three times, I was a three-time state champ, and a two-time New England champ.”
“Always a huge fan on MMA,” Beane remembers watching the earliest UFC events and being particularly drawn to the style displayed by UFC Hall of Famers Dan Severn and Randy Couture.
“They used their wrestling skills to dominate,” Beane said. “And I was going to the Lauzon’s school, to help with the wrestling. And then Joe got me a fight.”
Beane’s first fight in 2004 resulted in a first-round TKO, but Beane took a hiatus from the cage over the next couple of years to pursue his college degree. Upon graduation from Brown University and a subsequent a job as an account executive for a Waltham marketing firm, Beane’s love of MMA has come back to the forefront.
“I was working, going to school, and wrestling,” Beane said. “I didn’t have time (for MMA). But my last year of college and a couple years after I started the Bristol-Plymouth high school wrestling team, and I was back to the gym. Then I was training Dany Lauzon for his fight with Chris Horodecki, and I thought, ‘I might as well train myself.’”
After beginning serious MMA training by the end of August last year, Beane returned to the ring in January with another dominant first-round TKO victory. Soon after, Beane joined Cage Fighting Xtreme.
“I was looking for someone to fight,” Beane said. “A couple of people backed out. Then through Dan Conway, (V.P. of Operations) Mike Varner said that the CFX can definitely get me a fight. My original opponent backed out, but they had a back-up opponent. And talking with (CFX matchmaker) Gary (Forman), (promoter) Linda (Shields), and Mike (Varner) - the CFX is a good place to be. They take care of their fighters and treat them well. And they get me a fight every time; they do a good job.”
Beane was one of eight fighters selected for the CFX’s heavyweight championship tournament. Beane identified Luke Corona - ironically, his first round matchup - as his most dangerous potential opponent of the tourney. Adding to the difficulty was their fight being contested outdoors during muggy, humid conditions.
“My first fight (with Corona) was my biggest competition,” Beane said. “He’s tough competition. He has really good Muay Thai and his wrestling’s decent. And the mat was so slippery. Usually when I get mount, guys can’t move around, but he could. And when I get on top, I like to explode with a lot of punches and elbows, but I had to take it slower. But then I caught him with a good right, a good left, and a lot of elbows. He looked like crap after.”
Beane connected with one elbow that split Corona’s eye open, and signaled the beginning of the end.
“I got him cut,“ Beane said. “And once I saw that, I started working to end it.”
Beane’s title fight against Jason Dolloff took place Sept. 12 at CFX 5: Mayhem in Mansfield against Jason Dolloff. Beane, who normally cuts from his walk-around weight of around 280 pounds down to 265, decided it unnecessary to do so against the 290-something pound Dolloff. But that wasn’t the only strategic change Beane made before the fight.
“I didn’t want to take him down,” Beane said. “I wanted to stand with him because I knew I could beat him standing up. But he threw a jab, I threw a jab, then he threw a jab and clinched up with me. I was like, ‘OK,’ - I’ve been working a lot on my clinch and my Muay Thai. And I want to thank Robbie Leroux, Karl McDermott, Chuck O’Neil, the Lauzons, Wai Kru John, Wai Kru Mark, Nick Drummond, Damien Trites, Alex Costa - everyone at Wai Kru.”
Beane proceeded to unleash several powerful bone-rattling knees to the body from the clinch, then secured the takedown and rained down several big punches, forcing a referee stoppage at only 29 seconds into the opening round.
“I landed some good knees,” Beane said. “And he staggered back to the cage. Then I got the single (leg takedown), took him down, and landed some hard punches.”
With his degree from Brown, Beane views his cerebral nature as an asset to his mixed martial arts career.
“I think it helps,” Beane said. “I don’t have nervous energy before the fight - I know I trained and I know what to do. I have a game plan, and I stick with it. I try to study my opponents, and any videos of them I can get. And I study my old stuff. There’s so many wrestling matches.”
Likely the toughest account executive in the area, Beane also receives support from his Waltham co-workers.
“It’s funny, they all know what I do and they come out to support me,” Beane said. “My boss supports me. And I’ve never come in with a black eye or anything like that. Actually I get more hurt other times after the fights. I’ve got a scar on my head after my June fight, when my daughter fell on top of my head with her mouth open. ” Beane is the father of two daughters: two and-a-half year-old Makayla, and one year-old Erin.
All told, Beane is 6-0, with every victory coming by way of TKO inside of the first round. With the dominance of “The Beast,” CFX promoter Linda Shield indicated a willingness to seek challengers from other promotions. This will likely come to fruition at the CFX’s next event on Nov. 14 in Plymouth, with Beane’s scheduled opponent Randy Smith.
“He’s a Bombsquad guy,” Beane said. “And he’s from New York. He’s taller than me, and he has good hands, good takedown defense. But I’m going to put him on his back. If he’s got good hands, I’m not going to stand and trade with him, I’m going to put him somewhere where he’s uncomfortable.”
“And my game plan is always the same,” Beane said. “I use my wrestling to take (my opponent) down, and use my ground and pound. But I’ve been working a lot on other stuff; my Muay Thai. I want to get my Muay Thai good enough so that I can decide where the fight goes.”
And if his progression continues, where Beane goes may eventually be all the way to the UFC.
“Right now, I’m looking to dominate,’ Beane said. “I want to clean out New England. Then fight in some other state, maybe New Jersey. And eventually I want to fight in the UFC. But I’m just going to keep it moving, I don’t want to go before I’m ready.”
And if his recent performances are any indication, the 24-year-old Beane may be ready sooner rather than later.