This Weekend’s Warriors: Desert Storm

This Weekend’s Warriors is a column, brought to you by, that previews the upcoming Irish MMA action, shining a light on Ireland-based pro MMA fighters competing around the globe on any given week.

Last weekend was mostly successful for Irish MMA. Cian Cowley, Lee Hammond, and Ion Pascu pulled off an SBG clean sweep at Heroes Fight League. Dylan Tuke made a triumphant return to MMA after a 4-year hiatus. Meanwhile at UFC London, Gunnar Nelson re-entered the win column with a dominant 15-minute performance. As is often the case, the highs were accompanied by some lows. Decky McAleenan suffered a 1st-round TKO at the hands of Tobias Harila at Cage Warriors, and Tommy Quinn’s fight at KSW was ruled a No Contest, upon review.

This weekend, our attention is primarily drawn to Abu Dhabi, as the Irish roll into town for UAE Warriors 27 and 28. Additionally, a freak show fight awaits in Poland, but more on that later.

First up this weekend is SBG Ireland’s Kenny Mokhonoana (2-0) on Friday. “Black Diamond” is set to fight Alphonse Viny Bessala (2-0) on the UAE Warriors: Africa card. Mokhonoana was originally matched against Lamo Mohamed Camara (4-1), but received a late-notice opponent change. The undefeated 25-year-old impressed on the Irish pro scene last year, scoring back-to-back submission finishes over Adam Shelley and Matvei Zara, and he’ll be looking to make an immediate impact as he makes his UAE Warriors debut. UAE Warriors: Africa kicks off at 2pm Irish time on Friday 25th March. The event will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

John Mitchell (4-0) is back in action on Saturday’s UAE Warriors 28: International card. Now permanently based in Dubai, “The Ripper” has continued to impress since making his pro debut in front of a hometown Neptune Stadium back at Cage Warriors 110. Coming off a domination of Konstantinos Ntelis, Mitchell remains one of the most exciting prospects in Irish MMA. Mitchell is set to face former KSW fighter Mariusz Mazur (5-2) in a catch-weight 160lbs contest. A win would extend the Corkonian’s unblemished pro record to 5-0 and put him in good standing to begin pushing towards title contention or garner interest from a larger promotion. UAE Warriors 28: International kicks off at 2pm Irish time on Saturday 26th March. The event will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.

Will Fleury (9-3) is both the main event for Irish MMA this weekend, and also the main event of UAE Warriors 28: International! Fleury has a massive fight on his hands, as he vies for the UAE Warriors Middleweight Title against a familiar foe. 4 years on from their first encounter under the Brave CF promotional banner, Fleury is set to rematch Tarek Suleiman (12-7). The Tipperary native comfortably won their first showdown over three rounds, but is expecting a different fighter standing across the cage from him come Saturday. This truly is a huge moment for Will Fleury’s career. From the EFC debacle where he suffered repeated strikes to the back of the head, to being unceremoniously let go from Bellator, “The Raw Bastard” hasn’t had much luck in his pro career. He’s a fighter who has taken the hard road. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. It doesn’t always pay off, and Fleury has taken his licks along the way. The tide appears to be turning though. This opportunity, combined with signing to Ruby Sports management agency, provide a platform for Fleury to grab with both fists. A win here on UFC Fight Pass not only earns him his first professional title, but it also puts his foot in the door to potentially earn a call from one of the top-tier promotions. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but it will certainly be a step in the right direction. Huge fight for Will Fleury! UAE Warriors 28: International kicks off at 2pm Irish time on Saturday 26th March. The event will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.

Last but not least, Norman Parke (28-7-1) competes in one of the more bizarre matchups in Irish MMA. “Stormin” takes on Paweł “Popek Monster” Mikołajuw (4-4) in an open-weight 3 x 3-minute rounds fight. Considering that Parke last competed at lightweight in MMA and Popek Monster last tipped the scales at 253.3lbs, this is a certified freak show fight. Popek is primarily known for being a Polish rapper, though he boasts a 4-4 MMA record. The fight goes down on Fame MMA 13, which kicks off at 7pm Irish time on Saturday 26th March, and the PPV can be purchased here.

Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).

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