After a wait of more than seven months, Newcastle mixed martial arts fighter Hannah Sparrell will return to competition in Lewiston on Saturday, April 23.
Sparrell (1-0) will face Angela Young (0-1) in a featherweight match to kick off New England Fights XXII at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Sparrell defeated Kira Innocenti (0-1) by unanimous decision to win her MMA debut at the colisee Sept. 12, 2015.
“I learned a lot from the experience from my last fight and have used it as a catalyst in my focused training this winter,” Sparrell said in an announcement on newenglandfights.com. “I will be entering the NEF XXII cage confidently and ready for a good, solid fight.”
She had hoped to fight again in February.
“Unfortunately, I ended up injured, so I used the extra time to heal and focus on training lighter and improving technique,” Sparrell said.
“While recovering, I worked more (on) repetition, speed, (and) technique, rather than using strength,” she said. “I worked more on my stand-up game, rather than my ground game. My opponent is a boxer, so I really wanted to focus on my hands.”
Now, “I feel great – mentally and physically strong, and ready to go for it!” Sparrell said.
Sparrell has picked up a following in Lincoln County and in the Maine MMA world, along with a new nickname – “Hollywood.”
The nickname stems from the publicity about her first fight, including an article by The Lincoln County News that was widely read in both the LCN and the Bangor Daily News.
Sparrell also did interviews with radio stations, sports podcasts, and other outlets.
Sparrell said her instructor at Brunswick’s First Class Fitness & MMA, John Raio, started to say “here comes ‘Hollywood'” when he saw her.
“He called me by that nickname on a social-media post, which the New England Fights promotion picked up on, and when I saw my fighter profile on their website, I was listed as ‘Hollywood’ Hannah,” she said.
A large group of local fans will make the trip to Lewiston. Sparrell calls the support “overwhelmingly wonderful.” Romeo’s Pizza in Damariscotta hosted an event with Sparrell on April 9, inviting the public to meet the local MMA fighter.
Lincoln Academy recently asked her to talk with the women’s self-defense class at the Newcastle high school. “I am thrilled the support through this journey opens the door for other great opportunities such as that one,” she said.
The local support “is such a motivation,” Sparrell said, but she will take some special motivation from someone close to her.
“After my last fight I visited with my grandparents, and though they didn’t fully understand my path and how I fell into the ‘fighting scene,’ they – especially my grandfather – were very proud of me,” Sparrell said.
The day after her debut, she had lunch with her grandparents and their Model T group. “My grandfather was radiating with joy to show me off to his friends and tell me how proud he was of me,” she said. “He was so happy!”
“A few days later, he unexpectedly passed away. The last day I saw him was the day after my fight, and to have that as my final memory of him, (it) is a cherished one. I wish I could share another moment such as that with him again after this one, but I know he is there watching over me, and I am going to make him proud!”
Sparrell and her opponent, Angela Young, made their debuts in separate matches on the same night in September. Like Sparrell’s first opponent, Young represents Young’s MMA, of Bangor. Her husband, Chris Young, is the founder and head coach of the gym.
“Angela, coming from the school recently named New England’s Team of the Year, has proven to be a heavy hitter, as we saw in her blood-shedding battles at NEF XIX,” Sparrell said on newenglandfights.com. “That being said, First Class has been putting its name on the map, displaying our skilled training, coaches, and leadership, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about going head-to-head against Young’s MMA once again.”
Young lost her first match by unanimous decision.
“In a wild, ‘fight of the night’ performance, Young battled back and forth with Rachel Reinheimer (2-0), of Team Sityodtong,” according to newenglandfights.com. “Reinheimer would win the decision on the judges’ scorecards, but Young would win the respect of the entire New England MMA community with her valiant effort. On April 23, Young vows to chalk up the first win on her record.”
“I’ve put the work in, I’ve improved my game, and I’m aiming for another ‘fight of the night,'” Young said on newenglandfights.com. “This time, however, my hand will be raised.”
To purchase tickets, call 783-2009 ext. 525 or go to thecolisee.com. Doors open at 6 p.m., fights start at 7 p.m. For more information, go to newenglandfights.com.