Oktagon 48 Preview; Askham, Rock, Frimpong, McDonald in action

Oktagon have crossed the Channel with their big production trucks for the first time ever ahead of their show at the AO Arena in Manchester, England. The northern city will host Oktagon 48 this Saturday and will see eleven bouts go down in the cage, including one for a title.

In the main event, the inaugural OKMMA Flyweight champion will be crowned. Aaron Aby (15-7-1) is one of the most inspirational stories in MMA. The Welshman has overcome cystic fibrosis and testicular cancer to get a shot at gold this Saturday night. The Wrexham man is a strong wrestler and has a great submission game. He’s very experienced and has competed for Cage Warriors, ACB and UAE Warriors. Elias Garcia (9-2) is a UFC veteran who trains out of Duke Roufus’ gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 31-year-old was most recently seen in Combate Global, where he scored a hat trick of wins. Like his opponent, the American is a good grappler and is dangerous on top and from the bottom. We could see some fun scrambles here.

The co-main event sees Scott Askham (19-6) return to England for the first time in five years. The Englishman is on a one-fight loan deal from KSW, where he lost his last two to legend Mamed Khalidov. The Doncaster man is looking to get back to winning ways and with the show being in the North, there should be a sizable number of the Askham Army in attendance. The 35-year-old is a UFC veteran and has a rip roaring body kick amongst his punishing kickboxing game. Safety is not guaranteed. Marc Doussis (9-2) also appeared in KSW. The German is a prospect out of the UFD Gym in Düsseldorf, home of Roberto Soldić. He’s a very well rounded fighter, great at securing submissions and has knockout power on the feet. Doussis does most of his work in the first and second rounds, however has never fought someone with as much experience as Askham.

Akonne Wanliss (7-2) is a massive Star Wars fan and regularly can be seen with a lightsaber at weigh-ins and post-fight. The Jamaican born, England raised fighter is a solid allrounder with great chokes and heavy punches. He had a great Oktagon debut against Giorgi Gogotchuri, winning after two-minutes via knockout. Jakub Bahník (9-4) is an XFN and Oktagon veteran looking to silence the crowd. The Czech will enter the cage in the AO Arena with one aim, to use his kickboxing to send Wanliss into the land of wind and ghosts.

The culmination of the “Stage to the Cage” show goes down on Saturday. Paul Smith (debut) is a professional comedian and a selection of his work can be seen on YouTube. The Scouser is selling out theatres throughout the U.K. and Ireland, including a show later this month at the 3Olympia in Dublin. Jake Quickenden (debut) is known from his appearances on the X-Factor in 2012 and 2014, as well as on I’m a Celebrity in 2014. Since then he’s been seen on various tv shows and in the theatre. How will these lads do in a fight? We’ll need to tune in to find out.

Jack Cartwright (10-1) is a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion and Contender Series competitor. The SBG Manchester man will have the hometown support and can be recognised by his signature rat tail haircut. He’s a great submission player and can catch you in a choke from anywhere, as well as having stopping power in the stand-up. Júnior Assis (8-5) steps in on short notice to save the fight. The Brazilian is an LFA veteran and is predominantly a submission whizz with a nasty guillotine. His defensive BJJ does have holes in it.

Saturday will also see the final of the Oktagon Challenge: U.K. vs Ireland tournament. George Staines (debut) is one of the biggest prospects on the British Isles and has an extensive amateur record. The Englishman has a lot of submissions wins and has thrown in a few knockouts for good measure. The pros are a different game so let’s see how he transitions to the big leagues. Denis “The Menace” Frimpong (1-1) also had a successful amateur run, appearing on the likes of Iúr and Cage Conflict shows. The Irishman has done a lot of training with Dublin Combat Academy’s Collie Mahon, leaving him with a solid striking base to go with his good BJJ game.

Shem Rock (9-1-1) was a Team Ireland coach in the Oktagon Challenge series. The Scouser was in trouble with the law over the course of ten years for a crime he didn’t commit. The 29-year-old trains out of Next Gen Liverpool on a mat filled with killers. His biggest threat is in the wrestling and submission realms, don’t sleep on his kickboxing though. Jaroslav Pokorný (16-10) is a policeman by trade. “Jubox” is a very popular fighter in his homeland and will be coming in here to stand and bang. The Czech has huge experience and can absolutely crack on the feet. Defensive Jiu Jitsu is a bit iffy.

Alex Lohoré (23-9) lives in England nowadays having been born in France of Ivorian heritage. “Da Killa King” is a popular figure on the local scene and has competed in Cage Warriors, Bellator, as well as being a BAMMA champion. The 33-year-old is an exciting fighter and a demon on the feet, downing plenty of opponents through the years. Ion Surdu (13-5) is a former KSW fighter. The Moldovan competed in the Tipsport Gamechanger tournament and trains out of Ankos MMA in Poznań, Poland. The 28-year-old has an exciting kickboxing game and can put your lights out at any given moment.

Shoaib Yousaf (10-3) is a Lancashire man so will be close to home on the night. The 28-year-old is making his Oktagon debut and has fought for Cage Warriors, ACB and Brave in the past. The Englishman has a good kickboxing game and works his levels well. Konmon Deh (14-9) is a veteran of the European scene and has appeared a lot in Cage Warriors. The 38-year-old has been a pro since 2011 and is solid wherever the fight goes. The Frenchman will be a good test of Yousaf’s level.

Lee Chadwick (28-18-1) trains nearby the arena and should draw good support. The 38-year-old is a legend on the English scene, performing amongst all the big promotions bar the UFC. The Englishman is tough and gritty. His wrestling and punishing style makes life miserable for opponents. Zdenek Polivka (8-7) is a young man who takes the toughest fights available. The Czech has most of his success in kickboxing exchanges and cannot be drawn into clinches or be backed into the cage here.

The YouTube free fight features Aaron McDonald’s (debut) first appearance as a professional. The Team Torres man has a lot of amateur experience and is a Clan Wars and Iúr regular. The Irishman showed good knockout power so far, we will need to see how it translates to the pros. Neri Hascen Gelezi (4-1) is a GB Top Team talent and trains under Brad Pickett. The Saudi Arabian born man is good in all areas of the arts. In the wrestling game, he lands huge ground and pound. In the striking exchanges, he has big power.

Oktagon 48 is live from Manchester on Saturday night from 17:00 on Channel 4, Oktagon.tv and DAZN.

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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