Cage Warriors 146 Preview; 2 Title Fights

Cage Warriors are wasting no time coming back hot on the heels of last week’s successful CW 145. They have packed up everything in London and have set off for Manchester. The BEC Arena will host Cage Warriors 146 this Saturday evening. The event will feature a stacked card, including two for Cage Warriors championships.

Christian Leroy Duncan (6-0) will make the first defence of his Cage Warriors Middleweight Championship, a title he won against Djati Mélan at CW 136 with a spectacular flying knee followed by punches. The Englishman had an accomplished amateur career, including representing his nation at IMMAF tournaments, notably winning silver at the 2019 European championships. As a pro, he’s sprinted out of the blocks and beaten everything that has been put in front of him. The 27-year-old has a very well-rounded game, however it’s his striking that has taken him to the top of the division. Along with great fundamentals, he doesn’t shy from trying the spectacular to win the fight. Marian Dimitrov (10-2) is a newcomer to the promotion and is on a ten-fight win streak. The Bulgarian is a Combat Sambo expert, a style that has produced UFC champions such Andrei Arlovski and Khabib Nurmagomedov. In theory that means he can dominate the grappling exchanges while landing blows, in practice it’s opening up the striking game to him. This man has true knockout power, and he hurts his opponents consistently on the feet. His last loss was in 2014 so it’s a long time since he’s been defeated, showing he’s not just here to make the numbers.

The interim Cage Warriors Welterweight Championship is up for grabs in the co-main event. Reigning champion Rhys McKee is currently on the sidelines with an injury. “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead (31-11) has been one of the staples of British MMA since bursting onto the scene in 2005. The phrase “been there, saw that and bought the T-shirt” is the best way to sum up his career to date. As well as being a CW OG, he’s competed for the UFC, Bellator, KSW and BAMMA. The Leicestershire man comes in on a three-fight win streak and is a true “tough as a two-dollar steak” veteran. The last thing to leave you is power, and Judo Jimmy has this in abundance. He’s had more knockouts than most people have had hot dinners. Combine that with his great grappling and you’ve a very hard puzzle to solve. Mateusz Figlak (7-1) is one of those young bucks looking to conquer this division before going onto world domination. The Pole comes into this on the back of five consecutive wins, three coming within the distance. Figlak was born in Poznań before moving to Gloucester as a teenager with his brother Michał. The Trojan Free Fighters man has a fantastic boxing game with rip roaring body shots added to his impressive combinations and brutal kicks. He can also cause issues in the submission game with a mean guillotine and a fine top wrestling game. The old lion faces the new lion, is it time for a changing of the guard?

James Hendin (6-2) is as tough as they come. The Durham man is a top shelf featherweight who’s only fallen short by champions Jordan Vucenic and Paul Hughes. “The Honeybadger” will come into this ready for battle and to walk his opponent down swinging with intent. Araik Margarian (25-11) is not going to want any of that business. His game plan is to get this down early and get his wrestling game going immediately. From there, the Frenchman will look to utilise one of his many submissions of choice to end it. Don’t give him even a glance at your back as he’ll take it without a second’s thought.

Łukasz Kopera (10-7) is coming into CW146 looking to make a statement after losing to 155lb champ George Hardwick in his debut. The Pole had taken the fight at the last minute at a catchweight. The Łódź man is determined to show what he’s really made of. The 33-year-old is a strong allrounder who poses a finishing threat on the feet and in the grappling. He’s tough and gritty, he’ll always make sure you know you’ve been in a fight. Aaron Johnson (7-2) makes his first appearance at European MMA’s top table. The Englishman has won two on the bounce, one via strikes and one via guillotine. He’s very adaptable and can adjust quickly to wherever the fight goes. Can he cope with Kopera’s experience?

There’s a very tasty scrap in the flyweight division. Aaron Aby (13-5-1) is a man who’s come back from adversity in his personal life to compete at the top of the division. The Welshman is a very accomplished grappler with great rear naked chokes and arm triangles. The Wrexham native isn’t afraid of getting stuck in on the feet either. Stipe Brčić (10-3) is looking to come back from a defeat in his title fight to Sam Creasey at CW142. The UFD Gym prospect looked impressive in EMC prior to making the journey across the channel. The Croatian is an allrounder who’s split his finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions. This fight should be a very competitive, action-packed affair.

Luke Riley (4-0) is a young man who has a lot of eyes on him at the moment. The Next Gen Liverpool man is one of the promotion’s hottest prospects. The 23-year-old has put on four striking clinics to date and will be looking to add to that on Saturday. His most experienced opponent awaits in Karol Kutyła (6-4). The Pole is not going to be afraid to stand and bang in this one. He’s never been finished on the feet as a pro and is likely going to push Riley way further than anyone else that’s gone before.

Tom Mearns (9-7) is on his best run of form since his early career at the moment having won three in a row. The Englishman is a grinding grappler who seems to spend his life in razor close fights. He’s not an easy out for anyone. Milad Ahady (4-1) has represented England at 2016 IMMAF Euros, losing to Lee Hammond. The Team Fish Tank man can do a bit of everything and has a knack for taking the back and seeking out a rear naked choke. Most of his fights have gone the distance, so expect a close dogged bout here.

Adam Cullen (5-0) is another one of CW’s hottest prospects. The 24-year-old trains out of Next Gen with Luke Riley, however he’s made his name in the submission game. The Englishman is a rear naked choke expert and mixed it up a little with an anaconda last time out. He’s never seen the second half of the first round in his career, he’s that dynamic. Martin Causse (3-2) is the next up on the chopping block. The Nice man lost out to “Jimbo Slice” James Sheehan at CW140. In typical French fashion, he loves a guillotine. In this one he’s likely to try to use his boxing to dominate this one.

Manny Akpan (4-1) gave us one of the most spectacular knockouts we’ve ever seen last time against Connor Hitchens at CW136, a highlight reel spinning wheel kick. The SBG Manchester man is a bright talent who is just as dangerous on the ground, with a particularly excellent triangle to be wary of. It’s his striking that will draw most fans to him though and he is sensational in that department. Samuel Bark (5-1) is another impressive young prospect. The Swede is a kickboxer with flair and won’t shy away from throwing flying knees into the mix. He’s a Muay Thai specialist looking to put on a show. This will be fireworks.

Liam Gittins’ (8-4) bout fell off last week’s card and has accepted this one at short notice. The Next Gen Liverpool man doesn’t take easy fights and he gives everyone hell. The Nightmare is a terror on the feet and never stops chasing you down looking for the finish. If you find yourself in a scramble, odds are he’ll manage to take your back as well. A dynamic fighter. Faisal Malik (5-0) was another victim of a weigh in day cancellation last week. He has yet to taste defeat as an amateur or a pro. The Pakistani-Englishman has shown a great knack of getting opponents down to the mat and finishing it with ground and pound or rear naked choke.

Reece McEwan (5-1) has had a great start to his career in CW, winning his opening two fights. The Scot trains out of the infamous Griphouse and is a wizard when it comes to armbars, arm triangles and D’arce chokes. Teodoro Scolieri (3-2-1) makes his promotional debut. The Italian has a win via armbar with the rest coming by decision. It’s a tall order for him on Saturday.

Antonio Sheldon (5-3) lost a decision last time out at CW135. The Englishman has had the most joy on the feet and has the power to change someone’s night in an instant. Jordy Bakkes (5-2) is a durable judoka. The Dutchman’s lone finish was by arm triangle, and he’s never been finished, so the judges’ will need to make sure they have ink in their pens for his fights.

Liam Molloy (3-2) had made a name for himself as a knockout specialist with all his wins coming via first round finish. The Englishman has been a bit streaky, trading wins and losses on a fight-by-fight basis. Submissions have definitely been a weak point for him, so he will need to show improvements there. Orlando Wilson Prins (3-1) is a man who’s going to look for holes in his opponent’s submission game, with all his three wins coming via tap. His rear naked choke and armbar are lethal and he’ll waste no time looking to latch onto any mistake.

Jack Eglin (2-1) is back for his sophomore appearance in CW after losing to Luke Riley at CW136. The Englishman generally gets the fight to the floor and either finishes with ground and pound or takes the back and closes it out from there. Sam Kelly (3-1) will put on the yellow gloves for the first time. The Heywood man can duke it out on the feet, however like his adversary, has been getting it done by submission more often than not.

Cage Warriors 146 is live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off from 16:45 on Saturday evening.

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.