Will Fleury Crowned Middleweight Champion at UAE Warriors 28

Photo Credit: UAE Warriors

Will Fleury became the new Middleweight Champion of UAE Warriors as he put in a dominating performance against Tarek Suleiman in the UAE Warriors main event.

The Tipperary man, fighting out of SBGHQ, dominated from bell to bell as he picked up his first Mixed Martial Arts world title on Saturday, March 26th in the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. Both Fleury and Suleiman, the current light-heavyweight champion, had shared the cage back in 2018, that night it was also Fleury who picked up the win. This time around the fight was not as closely contested as the first encounter between the two.

Fleury landed a short right hook in the what was the first exchange of the title scrap, the shot dropped Suleiman and Fleury followed him immediately to the canvas to secure back control and kept the position for the majority of the round. Suleiman landed a quick takedown at the start of round two but the Tipp man quickly shot back to his feet, got a double leg takedown and remained on the back of his Syrian opponent for the entire round.

A quick striking exchange kicked off round three. Fleury once more showcased his striking capabilities by landing a big right hand. That blow prompted Suleiman to shoot for a takedown again. Fleury was wise to it, sprawled and found himself in back control once more. It was clear at this stage that the SBG middleweight was more powerful, and better, in all departments than his adversary. Some clichwork against the cage led to another takedown from Fleury and the rest of round three was and over and back affair. Some heavy right hands against the cage from Fleury forced the ref to take a close look at the end of round and the fight looked to be slipping away from Tarek Suleiman.

Fleury showcased some beautiful striking throughout the contest, round four started off with Fleury landing a big left hand on Suleiman which sent him crashing to the floor. The Syrian rallied and showed some good heart to recover, he was not going to accept defeat and showed that by surviving an arm triangle from Fleury towards the end of round four. Some nice jabs from Will Fleury at the start of round five forced Suleiman to try for another takedown. Fleury sprawled and found himself attacking the back of his rival once more, showing that he was the better in the grappling exchanges which was the story of the fight. It was clear when the final bell went that the middleweight belt was coming back to the Emerald Isle.

All three judges scored the fight 50-45, but in reality the scorecards could have, and should have been a lot further apart. The Cahir man gave an emotional speech after picking up his first world title and becoming UAE Warriors first ever middleweight champion. The build-up to this contest was not easy and Fleury dealt with a lot of adversary having battled a badly injured ankle and also breaking his hand just a couple of weeks before the fight. Those issues in his training camp make the win even more impressive and we will have to see what is next for the SBGHQ middleweight later this year.

Cork man John Mitchell competed earlier on the card as he went into his lightweight showdown with Mariusz Mazur undefeated after four fights. Mitchell, who trains out in Abu Dhabi, started well and was winning the fight. Mitchell was searching for the takedown but Mazur found an opening and locked in a guillotine choke which forced the Cork man to tap as he tasted defeat for the first time in his career.

On Friday, at UAE Warriors 27, Kenny Mokhonoana made his promotional and his featherweight debut when he went up against Alphonse Viny Bessala. Mokhonoana secured an early takedown but found himself in full guard position after a reversal from Bessala. The SGGHQ standout wasted no time in throwing up a triangle choke and locked down the submission in seconds. There was some small confusion and the ref called a halt to the action when it seemed that the Gananian fighter was unresponsive. Afterwards there was little argument from Bessala and his team as Mokhonoana remained undefeated at 3-0. The Dublin based fighter also picked up his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt from coach John Kavanagh in the process.

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.