Big Night in Brum: Cage Warriors 98

October 20 saw Cage Warriors storm into the Genting Arena, with their sixth event of the year landing in Birmingham. Looking to showcase the region’s top talent, Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan hinted at the future of the West Midlands city as an emerging MMA centre.

“We’re always on the hunt for the next breakout U.K. stars, and October 20th will be no different,” says Boylan.

“We’ve given fighters from all over Europe the chance to showcase their skills in their hometown. We’re excited to now give that opportunity in Birmingham, an exciting city for the promotion and for the sport”.

MMA already has a long history in Birmingham and Cage Warriors 98 was looking to sort the wheat from the chaff in a region that has always offered up good fighting talent.

Among these, past stars would include UFC’s Tom Breese from Birmingham, and UFC young gun Leon Edwards, another West Midlands name.

The 20th did not disappoint with one of the strongest Cage Warrior cards of 2018, beginning with a World Title Tournament in which four of Europe’s best Featherweights fought for a shot at the belt with CW100 in December.

The main card was opened by Perry Goodwin against favourite Alexander Jacobsen, who last year lost out on the lightweight title to Chris Fishgold. Goodwin stayed in motion from the start against Jacobsen’s direct, all business style, rocking Jacobsen in the first minute.

The underdog continued on top to put Jacobsen back to the cage with a constant of lefts and low kicks, visibly damaging the favourite early on. Goodwin finished with a countering left-hook knockout, 37 seconds into the second round.

Next up, Proctor opened his first of a five fight deal for Cage Warriors with a kick to the head of Verona’s Angelo Robino, before resorting to a series of more cautious, wearing shots to the lower legs. Despite Proctor’s advantage in reach, his opponent offered up a flurry of kicks and punches.

Resurrecting from several groundings, Robino chased Proctor in a strong finish, and with round two, effected some devastating inside work with his shorter limbs. Cutting Proctor’s eye with an elbow, he wrought havoc to the big man’s inside leg before catching a kick for a takedown.

A quick reverse had Proctor top-dog for the end of the round however. Known for gassing out, Robino did not tire but maintained a strong inside defence throughout. Early caution payed off, with round three ending on the floor and Proctor’s win by unanimous decision (29-28).

Next on the card, confident all-rounder Dean Truman faced quick-finisher Lewis Monarch. Truman’s fluid kicks and feints were a frustration for Monarch, who was unable to mount an efficient counter-offensive against a fighter now hailed as ‘one of the most exciting featherweights on the continent.’

Although Monarch was downed, a long grapple showed both fighters to be well-rounded and equally matched. Whilst dominant, the grounding and subsequent unanimous decision (30-27) proved no easy task for Truman, with Monarch giving the favourite a clear run for his money.

Aberdeen’s Paul McBain was next up against home-boy Aiden Lee, presently training under Birmingham’s own Tom Breese. McBain was quickly culled and any attempt at offensive pressure swiftly countered by Lee’s dynamism, reach, feints and kicks.

Following a left and a kick to McBain that cut the Scot’s face, four minutes and forty-five seconds into round one, Lee finished the fight, submitting McBain with a rear naked choke. Dean Truman will face Aiden Lee for the World Featherweight Title, December 8th

The main event saw favourite Ross Houston face veteran Stefano Paterno and his first defence of the welterweight. In some quarters this has been argued the best Cage Warriors Welterweight fight of all time and one in which durable ground talent faced considerable advantage in height and reach.

Barrelled into the cage, Houston pushed back with an aggressive MO of long slugging exchanges, which although even, saw Houston feel pressure for much of the first. He returned with a series of low kicks, wearing Paterno down before grounding the defender for most of the second.

The third saw a more definitive Houston, finding his range and confidence to walk Paterno down and into the cage before dropping the defender with a right. Recovering in the fourth, a right from Paterno shook Houston, rocking his balance and almost ending the fight.

The champion followed heavily before grounding the contender, who nevertheless rallied to turn Paterno with one minute to go. The last 30 seconds saw a raking leg sweep from Paterno; back on top to hammer the shaken Houston until the sound of the bell.

The final round saw true grit from both and a series of exchanges in which Paterno tried to drop Houston before being put against the cage. Stomping the defender’s inside legs, Houston followed with a rain of body shots before being swept and dropped by Paterno; again on top at the bell.

Houston won by a hairs-breadth with a split decision of 48-46 confirming what was not only the “Happiest day of his life” but also his “Toughest fight by far”.

CW99 is next for the Cage Warriors calendar on November 17th, Colchester Charter Hall, before the promotion heads off to Cardiff for the CW100 headlined by bantamweights Jack Shore and Mike Ekundayo.