Cage Warriors 148 Preview; Europe vs USA; 3 Title Fights

Cage Warriors are bringing back their famous New Years Eve show this Saturday night. The Indigo at the O2 in London will host Cage Warriors 148: Team Europe vs Team USA. Fighters on the card will be attempting to recreate Conor McGregor’s iconic performance on NYE 2012 in Dublin, the highlight reel knockout of Ivan Buchinger to become the Champ Champ. There are twelve bouts on the card, including three for Cage Warriors titles. Twenty-two men will put on the shiny yellow instruments of destruction and attempt to provide us with some fireworks.

Christian Leroy Duncan (7-0) has been a revelation since debuting in the promotion and he only seems to be getting better. The Englishman will defend his CW Middleweight title for the second time this Saturday. The IMMAF veteran had a highlight flying knee knockout to win the strap against Djati Mélan and followed it up with a spinning elbow knockout against Marian Dimitrov. The 27-year-old is getting his biggest test to date against a bona fide legend in Jesse Taylor (33-16). This will be his fiftieth professional fight, so he’ll hold a huge experience advantage. The American was a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 7, however was removed from the bout due to behavioural reasons. The Team Quest man went on to win The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption, however was released from the UFC following a USADA suspension. The 39-year-old holds CW victories over Chris Fields in Ireland and John Phillips in Wales, so he’ll be aiming to hit the hat-trick by beating an Englishman in London. If that is to be the case, Taylor will need to use his elite wrestling to do so. Classic Ian Dean matchmaking in this one.

Modestas Bukauskas (12-5) wants his old belt back. The Lithuanian was a bit unlucky in his UFC stint, going 1-3. Now that he’s back under the CW banner, and with a win in his return to Lee Chadwick back in November, he gets a shot at the vacant CW Light Heavyweight Championship. “The Baltic Gladiator” grew up in Buckinghamshire, England and is a hard hitting striker who is also a dab hand at grappling, with some vicious ground and pound wins to his name. Chuck Campbell (5-1) is the man standing in his way. The American earned his shot by knocking out Andy Clamp last month. The American Kickboxing Academy man has fought for Bellator in the past and will be coming out throwing some leather in this one.

Wilson Reis (25-12) is a legend of the global flyweight and bantamweight scene. The Brazilian is a veteran of the UFC and Bellator, and is no stranger to Cafe Warriors having defeated Owen Roddy at CW50 and Jeremiah Labiano back in March at CW133. The 37-year-old has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. A one time challenger for “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson UFC belt, Reis is a very good grappler with high-level Jiu Jitsu skills. He’s now a resident of Philadelphia, he will represent Team USA at the event. Tuomas Gronvall (10-4-1) is tasked as the European to get the W in this one. The Finn is making his CW debut and is a veteran of the CAGE promotion in his homeland. The 28-year-old is a submission fighter with a lovely D’arce to look out for. He’s a very tough man and has never been finished. There should be some fun scrambles here.

If you only watch UFC, Tobias Harila (10-3) is the type of character you’re missing out on. The charismatic Swede puts on a show from entrance to the fight itself. He’s earned the name “Bad Intentions” by walking down opponents and throwing bungalows. The 28-year-old can grapple when he is so inclined and he usually pairs that up with absolutely brutal ground and pound. Damon Wilson (5-0) isn’t the type of man who takes a step backwards. The American has won all four of his CW bouts to date within the distance and is hunting a title shot. Along with some heavy hands, Wilson is also fond of a takedown. The Alliance MMA man won’t be put off by Harila’s aggression, in fact he’ll likely revel in it. What a contest this is.

Darren Stewart (12-9) is a man desperately in need of a win, having not been victorious in his last five. The Englishman is a UFC veteran and when on form is a vicious knockout artist. At thirty-one years old, “The Dentist” still has time on his side if he can rekindle the form that got him to the big show in the first place. Guilherme Cadena (30-19) is a very experienced opponent to deal with. The Brazilian born man trains out of Salamanca in Spain and is a veteran of the European regional scene. The 30-year-old has very good submissions and is particularly dangerous at triangles and armbars. He’s not afraid to stand and bang either.

The featured prelim will be for the CW Flyweight Championship. Incumbent champion Sam Creasey (16-4) will defend his crown for a second time. The Englishman perhaps goes under the radar a little, however he’s always in entertaining fights. The 34-year-old is good on the feet and on the mat, with some great scrambles taking place in his matchups. Shaj Haque (14-5) is a man who’s beaten Creasey before. The Englishman won by unanimous decision at the first CW Unplugged event in London. The 32-year-old is another fun 125er and his biggest threat is in the striking game, either on the feet or via ground and pound. Will lightning strike twice?

Justin Barry (3-0) wowed the audience with a crescent kick knockout at CW130 in his pro debut. The American followed that up with another in his next fight. The 34-year-old is looking to rise through the ranks quickly and will be looking to end things in a hurry here. Dario Bellandi (3-1) has an extensive amateur background, including having vast experience at IMMAF level. The Italian can do it all, he’s got a great guillotine and can get business finished on the feet. The Livorno man doesn’t lose to any old scrub, each loss in his career has been to top opposition.

Chasen Blair (2-1) is a man with a huge ceiling in this sport. The American combines his collegiate wrestling game with some savage striking. The San Diegan came up just short in a close fight at CW143 so will be spoiling to get back into the win column. Helio Hernandez straps on the yellow gloves for the first time. The Portuguese is also coming in off a loss, a guillotine choke submission to Fernando Calvo at AFL 26. He’ll be up against it here and will need to keep it standing to have any joy.

Emrah Sonmez (13-4) is an experienced and savvy allrounder. The Turk is a good wrestler who utilises ground and pound well, and he can also hurt you in the kickboxing exchanges. Adam Meskini (6-1) is a man with a lot of upside to his game. The Frenchman is a natural finisher and has only gone beyond the second round once, which was in his sole loss. Knockouts and submissions, he’s had the answer more often than not.

Nathan Fletcher (6-1) is a star just bubbling under the surface. The Englishman is a submission master with an incredible panache for taking the back and sinking in a choke. The Next Gen Liverpool man holds a victory over current champ Michele Martignoni and is hoping to bounce back from defeat to Dominique Wooding in a title fight at CW127. Alessandro Giordano (6-1) is a veteran of the Italian regional scene, including a decision victory at Venator FC back in March. The 25-year-old will try and utilise his vicious calf kicks early to try and slow down his opponent and then to strike with heavy blows when opportunity presents. Two young up-and-comers here.

Omiel Brown (4-1) is another lad who’s shown a great versatility to his game. The Team Renegade man burst onto the scene with a pair of guillotine submission wins and has won his last two via knockout. Omiel Brown may just be the hardest man in all of town. Junior Orgulho (16-9) has a huge experience advantage in this one. The Brazilian is a submission threat both on top and off his back. The 32-year-old is tough and not easy to finish. This is a great litmus test for Brown.

Samuel Bark (7-1) has taken to MMA like a duck takes to water since turning pro, fighting some savage opponents along the way. The Swede is an exciting kickboxer who is absolutely lethal with his knees. The Halmstad man used those weapons to finish Manny Akpan and Tobias Harila in his first two Cage Warriors fights. He’s an all-action type of guy. Orlando Wilson Prins (3-1) is an IMMAF veteran at amateur level and a solid Jiu Jitsu player. The Dutchman has two rear naked choke wins and an armbar to his name so far on the pro circuit. The Groningen man lost a decision to Tom Mearns at CW138 in May so will be looking to get back to winning ways. Striker versus grappler, a tale as old as the sport.

Cage Warriors 148 is live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off from 18:30 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.