Cage Warriors 120 Preview

Cage Warriors returns with their third pandemic era trilogy series. The only UK government approved promotion returns to their COVID bubble to bring us three nights of great fights in London’s famous York Hall. Kicking off the festival of violence will be Cage Warriors 120 on Thursday night.

Headlining the opening night is a pair of veterans in the middleweight division. Kent Kauppinen (12-6) makes his CW debut after a recent stint in Bellator. He goes up against recent title challenger Jamie Richardson (9-6). Both men come in off losses. Richardson came up short against champion Nathias Frederick and Kauppinen fell to a judge’s decision against Tipperary’s Will Fleury. Kauppinen is a good boxer and would like to keep things standing, whereas Richardson will strike when it suits him, but isn’t shy to take it to the mat if the waters get too choppy. A win for either would put them in good stead for title contention.

In the co-main event of the evening, Fight Academy Ireland’s Paul Hughes (6-1) returns to the cage to try and get back into the win column following his narrow defeat to Vucenic at CW119. He will take on an upandocomer in James Hendin (5-0). Hughes is a well rounded martial artist and in the past has liked to match his opponent’s best skill and beat them at it. Hendin is a durable fighter who can grapple and still carry a KO threat if you let your guard down. A win here for Hughes should see him get the winner of Charriere vs. Vucenic on Saturday night. A win for Hendin would be a big statement that he is ready for the big fights.

A battle of undefeated prospects goes down between Will Currie (5-0) and Christian Duncan (2-0). Currie is a submission artist with a wide range of finishing techniques. Duncan is an IMMAF veteran who has come into the pros like a house on fire with two highlight reel knockouts. This will be an interesting story of who can implement their game quicker as any mistake will likely bring down the curtains.

Team Torres’ Decky McAleenan (7-3) is looking to make it three wins in a row. He has a tough test in front of him in Kieran Lister (7-1), who lost his first pro fight against McAleenan’s countryman Joe McColgan. Lister is going to try and keep this standing and outworking Decky. If it hits the mats, McAleenan is an accomplished Jiu Jitsu player. This should be fun wherever it plays out.

Next we have one of the stars of the trilogies to date, Michał Figlak (4-0). Originally from Poznań, Poland and now residing in Worcester, England, he will join his older brother Mateusz on the same card for the second time in CW. He has shown incredible striking skills and notched up two spectacular knockout finishes in his first two promotional matches. He will take on submission specialist Steven Hooper (5-3). Hooper is particularly known for his triangle chokes. If Figlak keeps this standing, it could be an early bath for SBG Manchester’s Hooper.

A fun fight between Connor Hignett (8-6) and Leigh Mitchell (3-2) is scheduled in the flyweight division. Hignett is called “The Hand Grenade” for good reason, he knocks people out with glee. Mitchell is a submission player with some lovely chokes in his arsenal. This is another case of whoever can impose their style first likely wins.

The Ben Ellis (3-0) train rolls in once more to the trilogy. “The Welsh Khabib” takes on the undefeated Manny Akpan (2-0). As the nickname states, Ellis is a fantastic grappler and has turned in dominant performances to date. SBG Manchester’s Akpan is no mug himself. He will pose a submission threat to Ellis and we could see some very fun grappling exchanges in this scrap.

Mateusz Figlak (4-1) is looking to complete his first hat trick of wins under the Cage Warriors banner against Josh Plant (2-3). The older Figlak brother should be able to finish this wherever he decides to take it. Mati’s posseses good striking and also has a great choke game. Plant hasn’t had an easy fight in the pros and has struggled of late with back to back losses, albeit against very game opposition. He was scheduled to face the younger Figlak brother before the pandemic scratched those plans. The Figlak brothers are ones to watch closely.

IMMAF amateur veteran Scott Pedersen (debut) makes the jump up to the pro level against fellow debutant Matthew Elliott (debut). Wales’ Pedersen trains under Richard Shore who has a great track record of preparing fighters for the pro level. Like all Shore’s fighters, he is a good grappler that can mix it on the feet. Northern Ireland’s Elliott is a teammate of Paul Hughes at Fight Academy Ireland. He’s giving up a lot of amateur fighting experience to Pederson, however hasn’t tasted the same level of defeat either. This should be an interesting fight.

Cage Warriors 120 is live from 19:15 on Thursday night on UFC Fight Pass.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.