Cage Warriors 157 Preview; Stanton v Webb 2; Vucenic, Charriere, Team KF’s Mhandu return

Cage Warriors once again play the aperitif to the UFC’s London card with a stacked card on Friday night. The Indigo at the O2 in London will once again host one of Europe’s leading MMA promotions. The rabid crowd will be treated to fifteen fights at CW157, including a title fight to top the running order.

Mick Stanton (11-7) is the CW Middleweight Champion, a title he won via unanimous decision versus Will Currie at CW151. The Englishman is a gnarly veteran who is as tough as they come. The 36-year-old has a very strong wrestling game and has earned the nickname “The Huyton Hammer” due to the power in his fists. He’s looking to make his first defence and also gain revenge at the same time. James Webb (9-4-1) beat Stanton at CW112 by unanimous decision and a former champion looking to join an elite club of two-time CW title holders. The Team KF man has had his ups and downs in recent years and is hoping to continue winning ways following victory over Paddy McCorry at CW145. The 33-year-old is also a strong wrestler and has high level Jiu Jitsu, holding a black belt. The Colchester man will be looking to use that grappling with a steady sprinkle of damage to bring the gold back to Swords.

Jordan Vucenic (10-2) is one of two elite European featherweights on show at the Indigo, someone that will be pegged to step into a future Saturday show for the UFC. The Englishman is a tough allrounder and is the former champion. With the top level fighters, he can trade on the feet and work in his grappling to cause frustration. If you let him work in his submissions, it’s going to be a short night for you. Brice Picaud (13-8) comes in as the underdog. The Frenchman has plied his trade on the local scene and is ready for a step up in opposition. The 34-year-old has won seven of his last nine and is lively on the feet and the mat. There are some defensive holes both standing and in BJJ that he’ll need to have filled before stepping into the cage on Friday night if he wants to cause the upset.

Morgan Charriere (17-9-1) is the second elite 145er on the card. “The Last Pirate” is one of Europe’s most popular fighters and brings an army with him to every show. The Frenchman has won his last two, including a doctor stoppage win over Pedro Souza in CW’s return to Dublin in April. The 27-year-old is an exquisite striker with swagger and has held the CW title in the past. The march back to the belt continues through London. Diego Silva (15-8) has been assigned the role of spoiler. The Brazilian has previously fought in Europe with ACB, and also over on the American regional scene with LFA. The 29-year-old is good at submissions with five on his record and has a victory over ex-UFC fighter Andre Soukhamthath.

Madars Fleminas (11-4) is one of my favourite fighters on the roster and never fails to entertain, win or lose. The “Latvian Express” takes on all comers and has won four of his last six, including a win over the current middleweight champion. The 35-year-old will stand, trade and do damage in the pocket. He’s also fond of some gritty wrestling. This man is a competitive machine. Daniel Skibiński (19-8) picked up his first CW win against Omiel Brown by decision in March, prior to that he’d been defeated in his first two appearances. The Pole is a very strong wrestler and trains out of one of the country’s top gyms, Ankos MMA. The 32-year-old is also a big threat on the feet, with a very damaging kickboxing game. Cardio can sometimes let him down which can be a huge detriment against such a game opponent.

Luke Riley (6-0) is the future of the featherweight division and has been an absolute revelation to date. Rarely does such a talent come into the pro scene and look as good as he does. The Next Gen Liverpool man’s striking has looked sensational already and his movement is high level for someone so young in the game. The excitement levels are off the chart for this lad. Four of his wins have been by knockout within the first two rounds. Matheus Malta (10-3) is the latest step up in opposition. The Brazilian trains out of the legendary Nova União in Rio and comes from the famed Shooto scene. Submissions are his game and he’s won half his fights by tap out. The 27-year-old has never been finished and is competitive throughout the fifteen minutes.

Harry Hardwick (9-3-1) is your featured prelim. The Middlesbrough man is a mean striker who loves zapping the body and working in the submission. “Houdini” is undefeated in four CW fights and is hunting for the top of the division. Vitor Estevam (6-0) comes in with a reputation. The Brazilian has three knockout wins and a mean streak. The 30-year-old is here to prove he can do it at the top of European MMA.

Will Currie (9-3) is one of the biggest talents at middleweight. The Englishman came up just short for the title in his last bout. “Drago” is a vicious striker with all limbs and dangerous off his back with submissions. Jorge Bueno (8-2) has most recently fought in KSW. The Brazilian is a knockout artist who’s never been finished.

Connor Hayes (debut) turns pro on Friday. The 29-year-old had an unbeaten amateur career and has had most success in the submission game. Angus Hewett (0-1) got caught with a high kick and flying knee from Paddy McCorry in Dublin. The Englishman also had an undefeated amateur run and was very successful with grappling.

Banger alert. Omiel Brown (5-2) is one of the hardest men in the whole damn town. The Team Renegade man punches hard as hell and has a sweet guillotine in his arsenal. Jesse Urholin (8-1) is a savage. The Finn has been successful with his wrestling and ground and pound. Wherever he chooses to go, damage follows.

Taka Mhandu (2-2) is the second Team KF lad on the show. “The Cat” is a fantastic striker and is hoping this is the fight to kickstart his pro career. The talent is there, just needs to eliminate some errors. Grant Ogborne (2-0) makes his debut. The 28-year-old has had a lot of joy with his grappling, and he came up through the CW Academy ranks.

Weslley Maia (7-5) is a loud character. The man smashes the pads like it’s going out of fashion. The Brazilian mainly does damage with his striking, however can cause trouble with his submissions. Shirzad Qadrian (3-0) is a well rounded newbie. The Iranian born fighter has one knockout and one submission on his record. The Londoner needs to step it up in this one.

Liam Gittins (10-4) is an entertaining individual. The Next Gen Liverpool man is an exciting striker who slings his elbows, knees, feet and fists like his life depends on them. He’s on a three-fight win streak. Janne Elonen-Kulmala (16-11-1) is a newbie who’s fought on Oktagon and M-1 Challenge. The Finn badly needs a win having only won one of his last ten. A win here would be the upset of the year.

Tom Mearns (9-8) has three wins in his last four. The Englishman is tough, a competent striker and decent grappler. Always in close fights. Bailey Gilbert (8-4) has won his last six. This Englishman is a very good wrestler and submission player. If he doesn’t get the tap, he has vicious ground and pound to make the referee step in.

George Tanasa (2-2) is a graduate of the Cage Warriors academy system. The Romanian is well rounded and has good kickboxing and decent grappling. Wesley Machado (3-3) lost his CW debut against Nik Bagley in March. He has an armbar and rear naked choke stoppage on his record.

Tom Creasey (4-1) makes his promotional debut. The Bedfordshire man has a couple of wins due to strikes. The 31-year-old is a very energetic fighter. Ander Sanchez (2-1) picked up his first win in the yellow gloves with a heel hook in March. The Spaniard has also gone the distance with Lone’er Kavanagh, the only man to do so. The 28-year-old IMMAF veteran also holds a knockout victory over highly rated Connor Wilson.

Cage Warriors 157 is live and exclusive this Friday on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off at 17:30.

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.

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