Our play-by-play commentator Brad Wharton takes a look at the highlights of CW92: Super Saturday this Saturday night.
Mixed Martial Arts is an industry fuelled by hyperbole, so when an event is almost universally heralded as potentially the UK ‘card of the year’ as early as March, it’s time to sit up and take note. This Saturday sees Cage Warriors present the fourth double-header in their 16 year history, but only the second to be given the lofty title of Super Saturday. The first such offering went down in UKMMA history as one of the scene’s deepest bills; nine of the night’s participants went on to be signed by the UFC. With Saturday’s card arguably even deeper, the March 24th showcase could well craft the immediate future of high-level European MMA.
Cage Warriors has crafted a reputation over the years for playing host to some of the strongest marquee bouts in European MMA history. Headliners and champions almost universally go on to be signed by the UFC and that’s testament to both the ability of the participants and the quality of the platform they compete on. Saturday night sees us put forth our deepest line up of championship bouts to date; one title will be defended while two brand new champions will be crowned.
Nathaniel Wood vs Luca Iovine
Nathaniel Wood returns to the scene of his most spectacular victories, as he attempts the second defence of his Cage Warriors bantamweight title against Italy’s hottest prospect, Luca Iovine. Wood might just be one of the UK’s most well-rounded up and comers, but his efforts in London’s Indig02 have been nothing short of a shooting gallery for his fistic prowess.
The London native is as smooth and powerful a counter puncher as they come, and when push comes to shove he doesn’t hesitate to bite down on his gumshield and swing for the fences. It’s this combination of mind-shattering power and the recklessness of youth that makes Wood not only one of the best, but also one of the most entertaining fighters on the circuit. It may also be what Italy’s Luca Iovine seeks to exploit.
For London, for glory. 🇬🇧🙌
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) March 21, 2018
Iovine could be one of the best-placed European prospects to test Wood’s mettle. While not as heavy handed or bloodthirsty, he is more varied in his methods of attack and as tenacious as they come. More tellingly he has a significant amount of cage time on Wood; should he drag the champion into deep waters, this could become as much a battle of wills as it is a battle of ability.
Sam Creasey vs Nathan Greyson
Ordinarily you’d be hard-pressed to find a bout with more potential for action than a bantamweight title fight, but here we are. Sharing top billing on the first Super Saturday card is a fight that would headline any other event in the UK; Sam Creasey vs Nathan Greyson.
Creasey has endured a decade-long climb to the forefront of European MMA. Long-regarded as one of the hidden gems of the UK circuit, the Sam-Urai rose to prominence following his 2016 Cage Warriors debut against top bantamweight Kris Edwards. Coming off first round stoppage victories over France and Romania’s best flyweights, Creasey could well stake his claim as the best 125lb’er in Europe with a win on Saturday night.
Standing in his way is a young man with nothing to lose. I first saw Nathan Greyson compete on a show in east London in 2012, against Cage Warriors veteran and current UFC star Arnold Allen. Blistering power isn’t usually something you associate with men that weigh 125lbs, but to say that the Londoner had his man on the back foot for most of their contest would be an understatement.
While both were tabbed as can’t-miss prospects, Greyson’s career path diverged significantly from Allen’s in the preceding years. His issues outside of the cage may have started less resolute men down a slippery slope, but for Greyson they were a wake-up call that have spurred him on to the biggest opportunity of his career. Two devastating stoppages have put him right back in the mix; a victory on Saturday changes his life.
Momma always said that if you can’t sing good, sing loud; if Creasey is the man with the wider range, then Greyson has the volume in what will undoubtedly be a contest vying for fight of the night honours.
Karl Moore vs Mauro Cerilli
It’s a lazy stereotype to write off any decent heavyweight MMA fight as just another King Kong vs Godzilla-esque punch up, but sometimes cliches such as these exist because they’re the most accurate way of describing relentless exchanges of thunderous force. Karl Moore is arguably the hardest puncher in the annals of the Cage Warriors light-heavyweight ranks and it’s fair to say that he’ll carry that power up to the heavyweight division, and then some.
Reigning heavyweight Champion Mauro Cerilli isn’t particularly concerned with odds-on favourites or pre-fight statistics though. Italy’s #1 heavyweight has carved out a fearsome reputation for his ability to pound his opponents into dust regardless of rankings, hype, or public perception. Bookmakers may favour his opponent, but to write Cerilli off would be a gamble that even Moore wouldn’t want to make.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) March 22, 2018
The Best of the Rest
Outside of the three thrilling championship bouts, Super Saturday plays host to an undercard full to the brim with can’t-miss dust-ups. Perennial ‘performance of the night contender’ Craig ‘Thundercat’ White looks to continue the momentum of a career-best year in 2017, as he takes on slick slugger Alex Montagnani. The Cage Warriors debutant will take a considerable step up in competition against White, but with neither man adopting a particularly risk-averse style, chances are this one ends spectacularly within the distance.
Jack Shore, as the saying goes, is on fire. If you don’t believe it, his army of travelling fans will tell you and if you don’t believe them, you need only take a glance down the young Welshman’s resume. Since winning the 2015 IMMAF’s at a lightweight, Shore has rampaged through a series of European 145lbers and is set to debut a leaner, sleeker 135lb frame on Saturday night. If there’s one man on the UK circuit not to be troubled by the thought of a lighter, more rapid Jack Shore, it’s Vaughan Lee, one of the division’s smoothest operators. Firmly settling into a gatekeeper role at 135lb in the twighlight of his career, Lee is still arguably the most fluid striker in the division and were he to derail Shore, the reverberations would be felt far and wide.
Unbeaten as an amateur. Unbeaten as a pro.
It’s time for the biggest test of Jack Shore’s career.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) March 23, 2018
Cage Warriors fan favourite Brad Wheeler once again displayed his renowned toughness last time out, not that it was ever in doubt. ‘The Crazy Kid’ endured a fractured leg and a barrage of wince-enducing elbows from Matt Inman in June 2017, before ultimately coming up short after three torrid round. Against the infamous Mehrdad Janzemini, he’ll face a very different threat; the UK-based Iranian is a storied grappler with a penchant for leg-locks. The difference here may well be experience; Wheeler is a 27 fight veteran and no stranger to going the distance, while Janzemini has never got out of the first round.
Elsewhere on the card, Jamie Richardson returns to the scene of his most thrilling victory to take on fellow prospect Sam Boult, Dean Trueman welcomes Corrin Eaton to the Cage Warriors ranks in a bout with implications for the featherweight division and promising youngster Aiden Lee looks to get back on track against the undefeated Tom Mearns in a battle of up-and-comers.
We’re just 24 hours removed from bell-time, so whether you’re turning up or tuning in, it’s time to get hyped for one of the biggest nights in Cage Warriors history: Super Saturday.
Brad Wharton is Cage Warriors’ play-by-play commentator, and one of the most prolific and knowledgeable analysts in European MMA. For more insights from Wharton, check out his Twitter profile here.
CW92: Super Saturday is SOLD OUT. There will be no tickets on the door – fans are advised not to travel to the Indigo at the O2 without a ticket.
Full details on how to watch the event from home here.