Ok, so BAMMA and Cage Warriors are chalk & cheese in terms of business model and the way they present the sport, but the fact remains that they are the two biggest names in UKMMA. This weekend, they’re both running events on the same night, with a hefty SIX titles on the line.
With that in mind, we thought we’d keep the previews for each card short and ask you, the discerning MMA public which event you were most excited for?
Cage Warriors 59
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales
Returning to Wales with a stacked card, on the back of a run of successful events from such disparate locations as Dublin, London, Chechnya & Dubai, Cage Warriors are serving up a title tournament as well as a title defence in one of their most competitive and entertaining divisions.
With fight finisher Jim ‘the Beast’ Alers (10-1) making his first defence of his Featherweight title against giant Swede, Martin Svensson (12-3), Kris Edwards (8-5), James Pennington (8-1), David Haggstrom (7-1-1) and Brett Johns (6-0) contesting a one night tournament to crown a new Bantamweight champion, allied to a tasty Middleweight bout between Mats Nilsson (10-2-1) and Denniston Sutherland (20-11) it’s a card showcasing some of Europe, and indeed in the case of Alers, the WORLD’s best fighters.
For our part, we are very much on Team Alers for the Featherweight title fight, partially because Jim gave us an interview before his title win and partially because he’s a genuinely entertaining fighter.
Svensson on the other hand, we don’t like so much because he complained like a bairn after Robert Whiteford punched his face in to win the Vision FC Featherweight title last year.
In the Bantamweight fight, Edwards and Johns are the home choices for the Welsh crowd, although it has to be said we really fancied Martin McDonough’s chances and while Edwards is a fitting replacement, we can’t see him beating Pennington.
For the other three, we can’t pick a winner, with Pennington a massive Bantamweight and a commanding presence, Haggstrom the most experienced and well rounded and Johns undefeated and as yet to display any weaknesses.
It doesn’t help that all four men have wins over our beloved Dinky Ninja Fight team in the recent past, but we forgive them…
It’s a great card, so tune in to Premier Sports (or the relevant online stream for your region, check http://www.cagewarriors.com for details) and check it out. Finishes, awesome fights and the usual top notch production & commentary are guaranteed…
From the NIA in Birmingham, once home to Saturday TV staple Gladiators (a show with similar aesthetics to BAMMA’s usual production), BAMMA provide their thirteenth show, marketing it as crowing three ‘World’ champions.
On the face of it, that’s a damn fine proposition and some of the names involved, particularly ‘Judo’ Jim Wallhead, Colin Fletcher & Max Nunes are definitely worth your attention.
However the matchmaking is a little dubious by my estimation. In the main event, Max ‘Power’ Nunes (11-0) is easily one of the most exciting Light Heavyweight prospects in Europe and is an excellent choice to compete for a title belt and while his opponent Jason ‘the Villain’ Jones (19-10) has the edge in experience and is certainly an exciting fighter (21 of 29 fights ending in some form of stoppage) I find it hard to take him seriously as a title contender, seeing as he’s coming off a first round KO loss to Poland’s Maciej Browarski.
The co-main event sees BAMMA staple, Jim Wallhead (24-7) competing for the Newly minted Welterweight belt on a compelling 3-0 win streak under the BAMMA banner (less impressive is the fact that its only a 1-0 streak if you add his Bellator loss to Lyman Good into the equation.)
His opponent is ‘Fast’ Eddy Ellis (18-15-1) who is riding a six fight win streak, but is (like Jones) making his BAMMA debut and hasn’t fought since 2011.
Reigning Londsdale British Lightweight champion Curt Warburton (12-3) gets the chance to upgrade to a ‘World’ title against Tunisia’s Mansour Barnaoui (9-2), a fighter who is making his BAMMA debut and boasts five of his wins in only two nights (tournaments held by France’s 100% Fight.)
The main card is rounded off by UFC & TUF alum Colin ‘Dr Freakshow’ Fletcher (8-3) looking to arrest his 0-2 slide from his Zuffa tenure against Tim Newman (10-3) who just happens to be one of Britian’s best Lightweights and presents a clear threat to his more well known opponent.
The preliminary card is pretty stacked, featuring another ‘World’ title fight, this time at Middleweight, between unbeaten Scott Askham and Jorge Luis Bezerra and UKMMA notables like Jack Marshman, Ali Arish, Wayne Murrie.
The show will be live on 5* in the UK with a selection of international streams available for folks around the world.
OK, I’ll probably watch both at the same time but its worth asking the question – which would you watch if you had to choose?
In my eyes, both cards have their advantages, which I will break down thus…
BAMMA win this, as the spread of the respective online streams is about equal internationally but their UK offering is on a free to air channel, while you need a subscription to watch Cage Warriors on Premier Sport.
For me, this is about even as I’m plenty excited by the prospect of watching Jim Alers and the Bantamweight tournament, but if I’m honest BAMMA have the edge objectively with hot prospect Nunes, Bellator vet Wallhead and former TUF contestants Fletcher & Warburton.
Cage Warriors win this big time. While I might not agree with Martin Svensson as a worthy title challenger, I appreciate that CW couldn’t get Graham Turner, Chris Fishgold or Martin Buschkamp (my choices for the shot) in the timeframe, so they had to find someone. Similarly, Kris Edwards wouldn’t have been my pick for the 135 tourney, but he’s a late replacement and steps in for his teammate, Martin McDonough who was VERY deserving of his inclusion.
BAMMA on the other hand have decided to create FOUR world titles from scratch and seem to have done so in such a way as to best accommodate guaranteed ‘home wins’ rather than paying any heed to competitive or promotional credibility. Without intending disrespect to their opponents, if Nunes, Wallhead, Warburton and Askham aren’t all world champs on Sunday morning, I’ll be VERY surprised.
If BAMMA had booked something like Marshman vs. Askham and Warburton vs. Newman I’d be much happier…
Admittedly, Jones is ranked 29 spots above Nunes on FightMatrix, so I can’t complain there too much (but coming off a win helps… ) but Wallhead is facing an entirely unbanked fighter, when there is a UK fighter in his weight class, on a chunky win streak and coming off a win over Jack Mason already on the card?
Wallhead vs. Ali Arish would have been a lot more interesting, in my eyes…
Cage Warriors win this as well. BAMMA tend to the tacky, while Cage Warriors keep it classy, and the commentary team of Josh Palmer and John Gooden (or Frank Trigg, when he stands in) are in my view, the best in the business.
Quality of Fights (not the same as name value or competitive matchmaking)
I think Cage Warriors win this as well – I literally cannot wait to see Alers vs. Svensson, (especially as a submission battle) and Haggstrom vs. Johns (experience vs. mimentum) while I’m not entirely wetting myself at the prospect of any of the BAMMA fights, largely because of the lopsided matchmaking and I’ve not been given any reason on previous BAMMA shows to give the slightest fuck about Jones, Ellis etc.
That makes it 48-47 to Cage Warriors on my card, but you’re welcome to disagree.
It’s a massive night for UKMMA, and I hope that like me, you’ll watch both cards.
Also, for the Swedish MMA fight fans out there – you could have THREE world champions on Sunday morning. Perfect warm up to Alex Gustafsson’s fight next week, eh?