Three cards from Cage Warriors in three days means three times the MMA prospects in action, at least in the UK this week. Plus Bellator 254 has the return of Grant Neal and the debut of Magomed “Tiger” Magomedov.
Cage Warriors 117 | Thursday | UK
Flyweight, Luke Shanks (6-1)
Shanks is an aggressive fighter who is a wrestler first. On the feet, Shanks hits hard but everything he does is to close the distance. With strong wrestling, he has a strong top position. He has solid ground and pound and early in his pro career, he started 3-0 with three submission wins. Shanks has a deep gas tank and that is where his pressure has just broken opponents so far. He fights Jake Hadley (6-0).
Flyweight, Jake Hadley (6-0)
Hadley is 6-0 as a pro and in his amateur career, he was successful and was a 4x amateur British flyweight champion. When Hadley was only 3-0 as a pro he fought a top prospect in Nkazimulo Zulu. Hadley beat him for the EFC Worldwide Flyweight Championship. Hadley hasn’t really had much time on the feet, but he has shown a good left hand and good kicks. Hadley is a good wrestler but it’s his jiu-jitsu that is his best aspect. His transitions are smooth and his ability to take the back is superb. He’s a big submission threat with nine career submissions. He fights Luke Shanks (7-1).
Flyweight, Adam Amarasinghe (6-2)
The record of Amarasinghe may not look all that impressive but looking at his two losses, considering who his opponents were and the performance he put on, things look good. Amarasinghe starting off was more impressive with his wrestling but his stand up has improved vastly. “Apex” is a tall rangy 125er who fights behind a textbook jab and long straight punches and kicks. Amarasinghe is a good fighter all around who I think we will see in the UFC one day. He fights Sam Creasey (12-3).
Lightweight, Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar (4-0-1)
Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar may only have five professional bouts but he has three fights in Cage Warriors, and all three were memorable performances. Lakhdhar is a Muay Thai fighter with all-around skills on the feet. He’s good at picking his shots, flipping the jab and firing uppercuts with just a nice flow to his output. His takedown defense does need some improvement but has already shown some, developing rather quickly. He fights Steve McIntosh (6-1).
Featherweight, Emrah Sonmez (11-2)
Sonmez has a black belt in kickboxing, a blue belt in BJJ, and many years experience in freestyle wrestling as well as a background in amateur boxing before coming to MMA. With all his backgrounds in other sports, Sonmez brings them all together very well in MMA. Sonmez is no slouch anywhere but his wrestling is outstanding when it comes to the setups and execution. Even the work he does on top is awesome. He fights Aidan Stephen (7-3).
Lightweight, Michal Figlak (3-0)
Fighlak may only be 3-0 but he made some waves in his last fight beating highly touted prospect Oban Elliott. Figlak is a wrestler with big power in his hands. He’s a grinder who has a high work rate especially with his wrestling and ground and pound. Still needs to prove a lot but the talent is there. He fights Anthony O’Connor (4-3).
Bellator 254 | Thursday | US
Bantamweight, Magomed Magomedov (15-2)
Magomedov is a good striker that has improved over the years but owns a better kicking game. He likes to get flashy at times, throwing a lot of spinning kicks which may be his best weapon. He is an excellent wrestler with superb grappling and can wrestle/grapple during the duration of the fight with his tremendous endurance. The only loss has been to UFC bantamweight champ Petr Yan. But he also has beaten Yan in the past so that says a lot about him. He fights Matheus Mattos (12-1-1).
Bantamweight, Matheus Mattos (12-1-1)
Very athletic and very powerful with a high finish rate finishing all his wins but two. Once Mattos starts getting into his rhythm he is hard to fend off. His takedown defense is good which affects a lot of opponents as they don’t want to stand with this guy. Mattos is so explosive and is always pressing forward looking for that finish. He fights Magomed Magomedov (16-1).
Light-heavyweight, Grant Neal (4-0)
After going 6-0 as an amateur Neal is currently 4-0 as a pro. Neal is a wrestler first. If he doesn’t finish the fight early he can dominate the fight with relentless takedowns. Once he gets his hands clasped he will dump you on your back in a big way. Neal stays busy with ground and pound and can throw at the same pace and pick it up later in the later rounds even. He fights Maurice Jackson (7-2).
Lightweight, Shamil Nikaev (9-0)
Shamil Nikaev is mainly an aggressive wrestler, often shooting for double-leg takedowns to set up powerful slams. On top, Nikaev is as heavy and as skilled as they come. He passes guard very easily and is able to get dominant positions in every fight. His stand-up isn’t bad since he can kick, has good hands, and has shown some good power. He does get wild at times as shown in his war against current UFC fighter, Christos Giagos. He fights Kemran Lachinov (10-2).
Cage Warriors 118 | Friday | UK
Featherweight, Ben Ellis (2-0)
Ellis is only 2-0 and I usually don’t mention uber young (career-wise) fighters in this feature but he’s impressed me a lot. It’s not like he only has two fights as he had eight ammy fights going undefeated. As an amateur Ellis won the Budo Fighting and Cage Warriors lightweight title. Ellis is an excellent wrestler with solid positional grappler and has damaging ground and pound. He fights Kingsley Crawford (5-2) who is a good test.
Bantamweight, Nathan Fletcher (3-0)
Fletcher is another young fighter with who I am very impressed with. Combined as a pro and amateur he’s 10-1 with seven finishes. Not much has been seen with his striking especially as a pro but what he has a good ground game and is a stellar wrestler. Fletch has a strong body lock takedown and on top, he’s a tactical grappler with seamless transitions. Overall such a good grappler and wrestler. He fights Leigh Mitchell (3-1).
iKon Fighting Federation 4 | Friday | Mexico
Lightweight, Daniel Zellhuber (9-0)
At only 21-years-old, there will for sure be way more to learn for Daniel Zellhuber, but at this point in his career, Zellhuber has looked darn good. The Mexican has a tall lanky build at 6’1″ making him a huge lightweight. While he does use his length at times, he’s more of a Muay Thai fighter. Zellhuber has excellent clinch work with knees and elbows. He has had some problems with his takedown defense though. Still, he does have a decent rubber guard, and is a promising young man with lots of time to develop. He fights Alexander Barahona (11-3).