Issue 206

July 2024

Ray Klerck jumps into the Fighters Only wayback machine to recap the best of mixed martial arts in June 2024.

Cage Warriors Release Rest Of 2024 Schedule

Cage Warriors have confirmed an extremely busy second half of the year, finalising the rest of their 2024 schedule. 

The promotion kicked the year off where they ended in 2023, heading back Stateside for Cage Warriors 166, which went down in San Diego. They then headed back to Manchester for two shows in as many nights in March, before heading to London just two weeks later. From there, it was onto Dublin before returning for the first time in several years to Glasgow and then onto Newcastle.

At the time of writing, Cage Warriors have already held 4 title fights this year and crowned 3 new champions in the process. The first title fight of the year came as Liam Gittins defended his Bantamweight crown against Roberto Hernandez in the featured preliminary bout of Cage Warriors 168. On the same night, Andy Clamp claimed the vacant Light Heavyweight title with a third round submission win against Matthew Byfield in the main event of the evening. 

James Sheehan realised his dream in front of a home crowd at Cage Warriors 170, in a Welterweight war against Daniel Konrad. ‘Jimbo Slice’ had to dig deep to after suffering numerous cuts, but pulled away in the fourth round to tie up an arm triangle and take the Welterweight title back to Team Ryano. 

In their most recent outing, the promotion returned to ‘The Toon’ and Harry Hardwick joined his brother George in becoming a Cage Warriors champion with a second round stoppage against Orlando Wilson Prins at Cage Warriors 172. 

There are already numerous dates announced for the next couple of months with, San Diego (June 7th), London (July 20th), Manchester (July 25th) and Glasgow (September 7th) already scheduled. On Thursday, the promotion added 6 more shows to see them through until the end of the year. They were as follows:

Friday, September 22nd - CW 177: Unplugged - BEC Arena

Saturday, September 23rd - CW 178: Manchester - BEC Arena

October 2024 - CW 179: Rome (date and venue TBC)

Friday, November 15th - CW 180: London - indigo @ The O2

Saturday, November 23rd - CW 181: Newcastle - Vertu Motors Arena

Friday, December 15th - CW 182: San Diego - Sycuan Casino Resort

Reflecting on their busy start to the year, Cage Warriors Play-by-Play Commentator, Brad Wharton said:

 "2024 has already been a fantastic year for Cage Warriors...

"It's been great to get back to locations like Newcastle and Scotland, and seeing the passion that the fanbase has for events we're putting on."

"With the full 2024 schedule now locked in, fans can look forward to more Cage Warriors action across multiple continents. With the added excitement of multiple $50,000 PrizeFighter tournaments, there's never been a better time to be a CW fan!"

ONE 167: Stacked Card Delivers Several Stand Out Performances

One of the biggest events of the year so far for ONE Championship delivered on the hype last night at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. 

ONE 167 brought some of the biggest names in the promotion together in Thailand with some stand out performances stealing the show.

The main event added some controversy to the mix following a second close contest between Tawanchai and Jo Nattawut for the ONE featherweight Muay Thai world championship.

Tawanchai retained the title via majority decision in a verdict that didn’t appear to go down well with the fans in attendance, potentially setting up a trilogy fight between them.

The co-main event, on the other hand, was about as fan friendly as you could possibly get as Thai superstar Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Denis Puric went to war in kickboxing.

“The Iron Man” was emotional after getting his hand raised due to being out of action for a year and facing plenty of criticism in that time but his performance on the night made up for it.

Another stand out performance in kickboxing came from Thai legend Sitthichai who spoiled the party on the highly anticipated debut of Masaaki Noiri with the division’s staple looking back to his best.

Flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci made a statement of his own by submitting Gabriel Souza with a calf slicer up at bantamweight.

With Sousa being the last man to beat Musumeci three years ago, “Darth Rigatoni” was fired up after facing backlash from that defeat ever since.

In MMA, the two hotly tipped debutants picked up impressive wins to secure their first victories in MMA. 

Both super prospect Adrian Lee and elite grappler Kade Ruotolo got off to fast starts and picked up submission wins inside the Circle.

Denice Zamboanga, who was supposed to fight for the ONE atomweight world championship on this card until late notice, kept her spot as the next in line for a title shot with a solid win over Noelle Grandjean.

Two upsets took place early on in the night as Itsuki Hirata suffered a submission loss in her attempt to bounce back in the atomweight division and striking sensation Johan Ghazali was handed his first loss by Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat.

The superstar names on this event lived up to the hype with a solid showcase of some of the best talent in ONE Championship.

With their two trips to the United States on the horizon, it looks to be a big second half of the year for the promotion and they’re coming into it off the back of their biggest and best show of the year so far.

PFL Newcastle: Savannah Marshall Shines In MMA Debut

Savannah Marshall produced one of the most entertaining debuting MMA rounds in recent memory as she picked up a first round stoppage victory in her mixed martial arts debut.

The Hartlepool-born boxing world champion made the leap to MMA just nine months ago and too on Mirela Vargas at PFL Europe: Newcastle.

In the four and a half minute affair, both women had several moments of success, with the Brazilian finding hers first, chopping at the leg of Marshall and momentarily forcing Marshall to drop to her knee after her leg was taken out from under her.

The boxing prowess of the 33 year old was already well known by everyone but it was once again on display as she looked to piece Vargas on the feet. However, Vargas was more than happy to stand and trade and the two of them clearly hurting one another several times.

After Marshall had Vargas hurt, the Brazilian managed to take the ground to the mat and the tactic then called for Marshall to call upon her recently developed jiu jitsu skills.

Vargas was well versed on the ground and looked to move herself into full mount but then saw and opportunity to tie up a tight head and arm choke. Marshall then proved that her grappling was up to scratch against Vargas and managed to espace out of the back door and almost looked for a back take herself before abandoning it to pursiot the striking game she is now accustomed to.

Although Marshall was doing a good job of keeping the bout on the feet, there always felt that there was the threat Vargas could shoot for the submission at any time.

With less than 30 seconds left of what had been a monumentally entertaining opening stanza, Marshall picked up the pace and hurt Vargas with numerous big hits before following it up with a barrage of strikes to see the finish.

Post fight, long time foe and fellow boxer turned MMA athlete Claressa Shields appeared in the cage to set up, what appeared to be, her trilogy fight against Marshall inside the Smart Cage!

OKTAGON 58 - Shem Shines And Vemola Claims Revenge

The biggest event in the history of Oktagon took place on Saturday night with the promotion packing out the Eden Arena for their first open-air football stadium show.

You can always expect to see great production, huge crowds and the European fan favourites in action and Oktagon 58 certainly delivered on all three fronts.

In the main event, Karlos Vemola finally got the revenge he has been calling for over the past five years where he was stopped by Attila Vegh.

Vemola welcomed his former foe back to the cage and defended his light heavyweight title via submission in the second round with an arm triangle choke.

Ion Surdu made a statement in the second round to stop David Kozma in the first round to tee up the final stage of the welterweight title pyramid.

He will now face Amiran Gogoladze for the vacant title following his split decision win over Leandro Silva earlier in the night.

In the Tipsport Gamechanger tournament, Acoidan Duque and Mateusz Legierski advanced with wins over Mochamed Machaev and Akonne Wanliss.

The main card opener saw the long-running feud between Shem Rock and Jaroslav Pokorny finally come to an end with the scouse fighter earning the submission win in enemy territory to improve his winning streak to three. 

Another stand-out performance came from Marek Mazuch who stopped David Zawada in just over a minute in the opening round.

With a four fight main card where only one bout made it out of the first round, it was a night that was defined by first round finishes in front of an awe inspiring crowd.

UK fans can watch all the action back from Oktagon 58 via DAZN.

Dominic Reyes 'Not Going Anywhere' Following Win Against Dustin Jacoby At UFC Fight Night

Dominic Reyes is ready to rebuild his career following his first round stoppage win against Dustin Jacoby at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Imavov. 

‘The Devastator’ has had a rough run of late, picking up four consecutive losses in his last four outings and had not competed since 2022. Back in the octagon for the first time since his loss to Ryan Spann, Reyes looked cool and composed in the face of adversity against an oncoming Jacoby.

With just over three minutes left on the clock, Reyes dropped Jacoby with a knee before landing numerous big strikes which sent 'The Hanyak' crashing to the mat.

Speaking to the media post fight, Reyes reflected on his first win since 2019, against Chris Weidman and admitted that the win was one of the most special moments of his career and helped him answer some of the questions he had about himself.

“It's a relief, absolutely. When he hit me, that was a relief. I was like ‘I'm still here’, you know. I had so many questions, just questioning myself and then I saw my performance and I was like, ‘Wow.’ And I felt it out there and I was like, ‘I really do love this and I'm not going anywhere."

Moving forward, activity is key for Reyes and although he does not have any names lined up and not wanting to call anyone out, he would like to feature on a card that would go down in history. He said: 

“I have no names, no nothing like that. I'm just focused. I was focused on the day, and that was it going forward. We'll see. It's more about dates than opponents for me. 

He continued:

“Like I said in the ring, know I'm going to be getting married here soon. So I got to do that first and then go from there but, you know, it would be really cool to be part of something historic like The Sphere, but even then, we'll see.”

The 34-year-old hopes that this is just the start of his resurgence and that he can be some sort of an inspiration to those who are possibly going though dark days. He said:

“It's everything I've ever dreamed of since I was a small child, you know, wanting to be a professional athlete. The walkout, the reception I received from the crowd. You know, the reception I've been receiving from the fans has been a dream come true.

“You know, being respected for what I do and the resilience I have as a man, not just as a fighter. You know, I'm getting knocked down but it doesn't matter, I'm still fighting, I'm still here and I'm still capable and will put anybody's lights out. You know, Jacoby's never been finished in my division and I finished him tonight. 

“Things went so well, camp when so well I wasn't even planning on finishing Jacoby. Like. Like with hands or anything like that. Like. So it's. It's relief. It's gratitude. It's. It's everything, man. It's. Think about for everybody who's going through some things, and it feels like it's never going to end. Keep. Keep grinding and keep working. And it'll end and you'll be on top again.”

Phil De Fries Delivers Powerful Message After KSW 95 Win

KSW World Heavyweight Champion Phil De Fries delivered an inspiring message following his victory at KSW 95.

His unanimous decision win against Augusto Sakai all but cemented De Fries as the longest reigning champion in the promotion’s history, a record to add to the plethora he has already collected whilst competing under the KSW banner including, most wins in title fights and most stoppages in title fights most title defences.

Post fight, De Fries spoke with the Polish media and after his victory and when asked how it felt to add this latest accolade to his resume, the 38-year-old expressed his desire to compete like KSW legend Mamed Khalidov and recognized the former Middleweight champion as the best to ever pull on the KSW gloves. He said:

“Maybe with the paper records and things, but I wish I fought a bit more Khaladov sometimes, that was a poor performance. I didn't think on the go when I was winning the fight. he was exhausted, I should have kept striking with him. So on paper, I'm the greatest, but we all know it's Khaladov.”

The conversation quickly turned to how fighting for the Polish promotion has completely changed De Fries' life, with the champion crediting his current form with creating a better life for him and his family. He also promised to deliver a blockbuster fight against Darko Stosic, the man teased by many to be his next opponent.

“I love KSW. Before I was at KSW, I was depressed, I honestly thought about killing myself a lot. This streak I’ve went on, it's revolutionized my life. It's made my children's lives better. I feel good inside and I do love it. I love Polish fans, I love Poland, you know, and the next time I'll be better you know, me and Darko, we're going to put on a war next time, I'm gonna go crazy. I feel like I have disappointed people."

The UK MMA veteran has been very open and honest about his mental health struggles and when asked if he had a message for those out there who may be struggling De Fries delivered an extremely poignant and heart felt speech.

“For me, it was anxiety that led to depression. It was ruining my life, you know, and I didn't know what anxiety was. I would have killed myself, I hated my life.

“I thought about, every single day, killing myself went through my head. I wasn't happy. I made this doctor's appointment, I saw the doctor, she gave me some medicine and I got some therapy and in three months, I was so lucky mind, in three months I was fixed. Whereas a lot of other people have a much harder time than me.

“I was so fortunate but you just can't give up. I was so lucky that the medicine worked first try. People always ask me ‘Oh Phil, I am struggling with anxiety. I'm struggling with depression.’ And at first, I was saying ‘Go to the doctor, get this medicine. This medicine will fix you.’

“And nobody I have recommended this medicine to, it's helped. I'm incredibly lucky and incredibly fortunate that this medicine worked for me. You just can't give up. I felt worthless sometimes, but now I feel very valued. My girls love me, my wife loves me. I have good friends. I'm a champion here.

“It's horrible, but don't give up.”

Conor McGregor Out Of UFC 303

Conor McGregor is out of his scheduled UFC 303 clash with Michael Chandler.

Following the decision to cancel the Dublin press conference between the two, at the 11th hour, speculation has been rife as to whether or not the bout would go ahead on July 29th.

Taking to Instagram, UFC CEO Dana White confirmed the withdrawal of ‘The Notorious’ and announced the new main event, an exciting co-main event and another change to the card. He said:

“Hi guys. Here I am again. Conor McGregor is out of 303 versus Michael Chandler with an injury. The new main event is Alex Pereira, former not only UFC middleweight champion, he's also the first and only fighter to win both middleweight and light heavyweight titles in UFC history. He also did it in the shortest amount of time. He did it in 736 days, in seven fights.

“He finished seven of nine wins by knockout, which is a 78% finish rate and won ten of his last 11 fights and he is facing former UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka, who has an unbelievable 23 first round wins. He has 25 by knockout, three by submission, that is a 97% finish rate. The Co-Main event will be number three ranked Brian Ortega, who has the second most finishes in Featherweight history and the second most submissions in Featherweight history.

“He won performance of the night eight times and he will be taking on rising superstar Diego Lopez. He has 22 of his 24 wins coming by finish with ten knockouts and 12 submissions - that's a 92% finish rate.

"Also, Jamahal Hill is out with a knee injury so Carlos Ulberg who is 11-1 and has 6 first round finishes with seven wins by knockout and two wins by submission and an 82% finish rate, and he's on a six fight win streak will now be taking on Anthony Smith. He has 21 first round finishes, 19 wins by knocked up, 15 by submission and ladies and gentlemen, that's a 90% finish rate.

“So it has been a crazy week here at UFC. That is the new line up for UFC 303. I'll see you guys in Vegas.”

The announcement came just mere hours after it was confirmed that Khamzat Chimaev has been forced to withdraw from his contest against Robert Whittaker, which was scheduled for Saudi Arabia next weekend.

At the time of writing the injury which McGregor has sustained has not been disclosed and both the Irishman and Chandler are yet to release statements regarding the bout. It is unclear as to what the next steps will be for either man and whether or not the bout will be booked later in the year.

Tatsuro Taira Remains Unbeaten After UFC Vegas 93 Win

Tatsuro Taira continued his impressive unbeaten run in his main event clash against Alex Perez at UFC Vegas 93.

The Flyweight matchup saw the vastly more experienced Perez step up to take on a man avoided by many in the division, in Taira.

It was a big step up in competition for the Japanese man, who ultimately leapfrogged many in the 125lbs division with this second round finish against Perez.

The bout was a back and forth contest but Taira found a lot of success with he Thai clinch as Perez stepped into range. Keeping the contest on the feet for the most part but Perez managed to land a solid take down with 30 seconds left in the first round but Taira managed to get himself straight back to his feet.

The stoppage came after Taira took Perez’s back and with a body triangle wrapped in, he went to work. Looking to take the fight to the mat, Taira dropped backwards and pulled Perez down with him but the American appeared to severely hurt his leg in the processed and tapped. 

In the co-main event, Mike Johns looked levels above Douglas Silva de Andrade in their Bantamweight fight. With his shot selection on point, Johns worked well throughout the 15 minute affair and claimed the unanimous decision with just over half of his significant strikes landing successfully.

Lucas Almeida turned his recent from on its head and managed to get back into the win column with a unanimous decision win against Timothy Cuamba. After a very strong start from Almeida, Cuamba looked to rally late but left it too little too late and although he managed to steal the third round on all three of the judges scorecards, the 10 minutes previous were all Almeida and the Brazilian walked away with the win.

Elsewhere on the card, there were big wins for Brady Hiestand,Asu Almabayev, Adam Fugitt and Westin Wilson.

Find the full list of results, below

UFC Fight Night: Perez vs Taira Results

· Tatsuro Taira defeats Alex Perez by TKO, Round 2, 2:59

· Miles Johns defeats Douglas Silva de Andrade by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

· Lucas Almeida defeats Timmy Cuamba by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

· Brady Hiestand defeats Garrett Armfield by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:52 of Round 3

· Asu Almabayev defeats Jose Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

· Adam Fugitt defeats Josh Quinlan by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) 

· Nate Maness defeats Jimmy Flick by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27,.29-28)

· Gabriella Fernandes defeats Carli Judice by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

· Westin Wilson defeats Jeka Saragih by submission (armbar) at 1:49 of Round 1

· Melquizael Costa defeats Shayilan Nuerdanbieke by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:50 of Round 3

· Josefine Knutsson defeats Julia Polastri by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Dricus Du Plessis vs Israel Adesayna Set For UFC 305

Dricus Du Plessis will put his Middleweight title on the line when he faces Israel Adesayna at UFC 305.

The showdown will take place inside the RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday August 17 and will serve as the evening’s main event.

The pair have had plenty of back and forth in recent years, with the two even facing off inside the Octagon after Du Plessis stopped Robert Whittaker at UFC 290, and will finally get to settle the score and see who will reign supreme.

The bout will see ‘The Last Stylebender’ return to competition for the first time in 11months, one the longest periods of time he has had away from competition. Whilst champion, Adesanya was one of the most active champions in the promotion, in what was an illustrious run for the New Zealand man. After dropping the title to long time for Alex Pereira at UFC 281, Adesanya regained the title in their immediate rematch at UFC 287, before losing the title against – this time to Sean Strickland – at UFC 293.

Following the second loss in three contests, Adesayna announced that he would be taking some time away from competition but certainly was not retiring, just taking some well earned time off. Now back and ready to compete once more, the 34-year old will be looking to reclaim the title he held for so long.

After proving his worth on both EFC and KSW, Du Plessis eventually signed with the UFC in 2020. There was a lot of hype surrounding the South African as fans were curious as to how ‘Stillknocks’ would perform inside the Octagon. In his promotional debut, Du Plessis stopped Markus Perez in the first round of their contest before going on to beat Trevin Giles 10 months later, in July 2021. Due to numerous withdrawals and rebooked contest, it was a whole year before Du Plessis could continue his journey towards the title but picked up where he left off and secured a unanimous decision win against Brad Tavares. His win against fan favourite Darren Till shot the South African into the lime light and after victories against Derek Brunson & Robert Whittaker, Du Plessis had his shot at UFC gold.

At UFC 297 he went to war against the then champion Sean Strickland in a tough 25 minute affair. The bout was extremely closely fought and left the judges split when it came to the decision. Fortunately for Du Plessis, two of the three judges felt he had done enough to take home the win and be crowned the new Middleweight king.

Robert Whittaker Gets First Round Stoppage At UFC Saudi Arabia

Robert Whittaker proved why he is top of the division with a brutal stoppage against Ikram Aliskerov in the very first round of their contest at UFC Saudi Arabia.

The card, which played out for the first time in Saudi Arabia saw many a well known face compete.

Although originally scheduled to face Khamzat Chimaev, Whittaker ended up with a last minute change in opponent and faced the unranked Aliskerov. Less than two minutes into the contest Whittaker landed a monster uppercut and called an end to the contest.

In the co-main event, Alexander Volkov out struck Sergi Pavlovich to secure his first decision win since 2021.

Kelvin Gastelum got the win against Daniel Rodriguez but UFC CEO Dana White expressed his disappointment post fight with the contest being moved from Welterweight to Middleweight on short notice.

Shara Magomedov continued his unbeaten run with an impressive first round stoppage against Antonio Trocoli. The win also caught the attention of fellow rising star Bo Nickal, who took to social media post fight to express his desire to face Magomedov in the near future.

Volkan Oezdemir picked up one of the most devastating wins of the night when he landed numerous big shots to the head of Johnny Walker, rendering the Brazilian immediately unconscious.

Elsewhere on the card, Felipe Lima made the most of his last second call up to the UFC, with the former OKTAGON champion submitting Muhammad Naimov in the third round of their contest.

Alex Pereira Retains Title In Huge UFC 303 Main Event

Alex Pereira kept a hold of his UFC Light Heavyweight title in devastating fashion with a second round TKO against Jiri Prochazka at UFC 303.

The event, which should have seen Conor McGregor return, was hit with a litany of injuries and last minute changes to the card but still managed to deliver an action packed night of fights.

In the main event, Alex Pereira further put himself into the conversation as one of the best to ever step inside the Octagon with a huge knock out of Jiri Prochazka.

The two first met last year and Pereira claimed a second round stoppage and it was the same again for the Brazilian as he landed an incredible head kick just 10 seconds into the second round then landed numerous strikes to call an end to the contest.

The co-main event should have seen Brian Ortega face the surging Diego Lopes but illness forced Ortega off the card at the 11th hour. Dan Ige stepped in on three hours notice to save the day, facing Lopes in a 165lbs catchweight bout.

Lopes had never been out of the first round in his UFC tenure but the gritty Ige forced him to compete over their 15 minute affair. Lopes ultimately ended up with the unanimous decision victory but it was a sterling effort put in by Ige on such short notice.

Roman Dolidze moved up a weight to face Anthony Smith and still managed to get the job done. The two battled it out over 15 minutes and the Georgian picked up his first win since 2022.

Macy Chiasson got the stoppage when the doctor stopped the contest following a cut to Mayra Bueno Silva.

After much back and forth, it was Ian Machado Garry who was the man with his hand raised against Michael 'Venom' Page. 'The Future' managed to claim his third successive decision victory, and arguably the biggest scalp of his career.

Joe Pyfer got himself back to winning ways in stunning fashion with a huge first round stoppage against Marc-Andre Barriault.

Michelle Waterson Gomez announced her retirement from the sport following her unanimous decision loss to Gillian Robertson. Payton Talbott remained undefeated and continued his impressive streak with a first round stoppage against Yanis Ghemmouri. There were also big wins for Andre Fili, Jean