By Kieran Cobley
Cage Warriors returns to Wales for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, taking over the Ebbw Vale sports centre with a night of great action.
Flyweight champion Sam Creasey (15-4, 5 KO/TKO, 6 Submissions) tops the bill as he looks to become the first man in Cage Warriors history to successfully defend the 125lbs title.
The champion takes on Stipe Brcic, a formidable Croatian fighter training out of Germany with a 10-2 record and six finishes to his name.
A win here for Creasey could see him take a significant step towards joining the UFC, but it has been a long wait for a title defence. The Bedfordshire fighter should have defended the title against the man he took the belt off, Luke Shanks, in December following a “phantom tap” incident in the first bout. Shanks knocked out Creasey in a rugged fashion but failed to take the strap home due to losing his battle with the scales.
Creasey was scheduled to take on a title defence, this time at Cage Warriors’ 20th Anniversary show in July, but Italian contender, Dylan Hazan, failed to make 125lbs, and Creasey opted to sit the fight out, having already fought opponents over the weight limit in his last two outings.
Expect fireworks in this one as both men look to prove their metal.
If Chris Jericho is the “Man of 1004 moves”, Oban Elliott is the “Man of 1004 nicknames”, and the Welsh hometown hero gets to put on a show in front of his fans against former middleweight champion Matthew Bonner.
“The Welsh Gangster” is taking a considerable step up in competition for this bout, having never faced a former CW champ before. Still, it should also be worth noting that in previous attempts to take a step up, he has been brought down by Mike Figlak and “The Latvian Express” Madars Fleminas.
Bonner was the breakout star of Cage Warriors’ Covid era, going from 6-6 to putting on dominating wins over George Smith, Matt Inman and former champion James Webb before submitting Nathias Frederick in the fourth round of their epic contest in 2021 to win the middleweight title.
Even in defeat, Bonner looked game against Djati Melan, almost stopping the Frenchman but ultimately coming just short, but since shrinking down, he has dominated once again.
Elliott’s boxing has been his strong suit in past fights, but when put against the striking of Matt Bonner, who trains with his brother Daniel (a world Muay Thai champion), “Angel Eyes” could find himself in hot water.
Both men have shown they can grapple with the best of them and possess suffocating top games, but this one will likely be a fist fight for the ages.
In the shark tank that is the Cage Warriors 170 lbs division, it’s unclear whether a win for either man would get them a title shot, with Justin Burlinson, Matt Figlak and Jimmy Wallhead all circling the champion, Rhys McKee.
Can “Evil” beat “The Beast”?
While Cage Warriors president, Graham Boylan, serves as the brains of Europe’s top promotion and matchmaker Ian Dean serves as the heart of CW, there can be no doubt about who embodies the spirit of Cage Warriors, Aaron Aby.
Aby (13-4-1, 1 KO/TKO, 5 Submissions) has overcome a battle with Leukemia and Cystic Fibrosis. This condition can be life shortening in many, to become one of the best 125lbs fighters in Europe.
The Wrexham native is on a run of two wins, with his latest coming in Manchester earlier this year at CW 136, where he forced former bantamweight title challenger and kickboxing ace, Gerardo Fanny, to submit to a Rear Naked Choke.
Michelanglo Lupoli (5-2, 2 KO/TKO) makes his promotional debut against Aby and will be looking to show the Welsh veteran up in front of his home crowd.
Aby’s ground game has been his strong suit, but only time will tell if he can implement his takedown and submission offence in combat with the Italian.
Luke Riley, the latest prospect to come out of the renowned Next Gen gym in Liverpool, will look to extend his unbeaten record to 4-0 on Saturday night.
The featherweight fighter took home the honours of being Cage Warriors’ breakout fighter of the year in 2021 and currently holds a 100% KO rate, partially down to his outstanding striking ability and conditioning.
At CW 136, Riley showed he could overcome adversity after being put on the backfoot against Jack Eglin before striking a KO blow.
Cherif Larossi (1-1, 1 Submission) steps in for Scott Pedersen and will hope to be the first man to blot Riley’s impressive record, but it will be an uphill battle after accepting the bout on short notice.
All the Cage Warriors 142 action will be live on UFC Fight Pass from 5.30 pm BST on Saturday.
Sam Creasey vs Stipe Brcic – flyweight title bout
Matt Bonner vs Oban Elliott – welterweight bout
Michelangelo Lupoli vs Aaron Aby – flyweight bout
Luke Riley vs Cherif Larossi – featherweight bout
Jasmine Favero vs Stephanie Evans – lightweight bout
Erick Da Silva vs Chris Bungard – 161lbs catchweight bout
Sean McCormac vs Owain Williams – middleweight bout
Milton Cabral vs George McManus – 174lbs catchweight bout
Matty Byfield vs Szymon Szynkiewicz – light heavyweight bout