With virtually the whole card shown live either on Cage Warriors’ Facebook page or some combination of cagewarriors.com / mmajunkie.com / joe.ie (depending where you were in the world) this card provided arguably the best evening of free MMA action I’ve seen to date.
The prelims alone were a stunning display of heart and skills, with Dan Hope gritting out a gutsy split decision win over experienced French striker Gary Kono that saw both men bloodied up, Brad Wheeler and Paul Redmond score very impressive TKO victories over Merv Mulholland and Alexei Roberts and an incisive display of submissions skills from Chris Fishfold to go 8-0 at the expense of Steve o’Keefe.
It had looked like Alex Enlund was en route to another grappling masterclass against Martin McDonough when McDonough slipped on an armbar from frankly nowhere to get the tap, that left us and Enlund utterly shocked.
All in all, it was almost hard to believe you were watching the undercard, such was the quality of the bouts on offer with Paul Redmond and Chris Fishgold especially impressing and serving notice on their respective divisions.
A heated contest between Alan Philpott and Liam James opened the main card and despite a wee technical hitch getting the stream on http://www.cagewarriors.com to work, all was well in time for the bell.
An open first round showed James trying to use his power but Philpott adjusted and had his way in the second, coming very close to the TKO victory at the end of the round – close enough to question Marc Goddard as to why the bout wasn’t stopped. Silly boy.
The third was all one way traffic again and eventually Philpott secured the TKO win from mount with two minutes left on the clock. It was a very impressive performance from Philpott.
Next up was the catch weight battle of the Paul’s as the McVeigh vs. Marin bout transferred from the aborted On Top 7 card came on and we got a grappling masterclass with Marin’s explosive escapes being systematically smothered by McVeigh’s top notch jujitsu. In the brief standup sections, Marin searched for a knockout punch but McVeigh’s canny boxing kept him clear and the bout invariably returned to the mat. In the end a well deserved unanimous decision victory for McVeigh gets him back on track with his next bout surely to be at Flyweight proper.
The next two bouts saw two of Cage Warriors’ Welterweight mainstays score impressive TKO2 wins over hungry younger opposition as Jack Mason and Bruno Carvalho imposed their will on Matt Inman and Steve Dinsdale, who gave a good account of themselves en route to being saved from further punishment by the referee.
That was Mason’s third win on the bounce, putting him in contention for a title shot but Carvalho will no doubt be petitioning to rematch Cathal Pendred following his decision loss to the Irishman last time out.
In the co-main event, Graham Turner defended the spirit of his On Top Featherweight belt with a VERY impressive first round TKO of the game and somewhat hyperactive Fouad Mesdari.
Despite Mesdari’s fast hands and grappling skills, Turner nailed a takedown following the opening exchanges and advanced quickly to full mount before unleashing a torrent of blows which left Mesdari covering up and Marc Goddard no option but to call the fight.
This victory is Turner’s second successive TKO1 in Cage Warriors for a 4-0 streak and pro record of 22-7 at the age of only 25. I reckon he should get a shot at the winner of Jim Alers vs. Joni Salovaara for the Featherweight title. Who’s with me?
The main event saw experienced French submission specialist Gael Grimaud defending his Welterweight title against another talented scion of SGB Ireland, Cathal Pendred.
As we’ve come to expect from Pendred’s fights, this one went the distance with the repeated story of Pendred being the aggressor, taking some damage from Grimaud’s wily counter striking but generally staying on the front foot and pressing the Frenchman against the cage.
Grimaud scored takedowns in the third and fourth rounds but couldn’t keep Cathal down, although aside from a few flurries the Frenchman largely had the better of the striking game when he could keep distance.
In the end, the judges thought that Pendred’s fighting area control counted ahead of Grimaud’s more effective striking (which is fair enough, given the proportion of the match which was contested in such grappling situations) giving Pendred the unanimous decision and Cage Warriors yet another Irish champion.
I saw some heated debate on the Cage Warriors Facebook page after the fight, with French fans decrying Pendred as a ‘pusher’ and implying he’s a fake champion. Now, I don’t really hold with that but the bout could certainly have been more clear cut.
All in all, this was a fantastic evening of free, top class MMA and credit has to go to Cage Warriors for the quality of their matchmaking and production, once again topped off by my favourite announce team in the business, the informative and likeable Josh Palmer and John Gooden.
Next time out in Glasgow I’ll be in the stands again. Got my ticket already. Wouldn’t miss it.
• Cathal Pendred def. Gael Grimaud via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) – to become new welterweight champion
• Graham Turner def. Fouad Mesdari via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:05
• Bruno “B.C.” Carvalho def. Steve Dinsdale via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:48
• Jack Mason def. Matt Inman via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:26
• Paul McVeigh def. Paul Marin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Alan Philpott def. Liam James via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:00
• Chris Fishgold def. Steve O’Keeffe via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:34
• Martin McDonough def. Alex Enlund via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:13
• Paul Redmond def. Alexei Roberts via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:30
• Brad Wheeler def. Merv Mulholland via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:46
• Dan Hope def. Gary Kono via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28
• Ben Hajir def. Anthony Ferguson via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:42
• Richard Griffin def. Shah Hussain via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:40
• Olly Battell def. Shaj Haque via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)