Calling all Game of Thrones fans…
If our CW104 fighters were characters from HBO’s hit series, which one would they be?
As we count down the hours until CW104, Cage Warriors play-by-play commentator Brad Wharton gives his thoughts on the card, and the warriors who are stepping up at the Viola Arena.
Winter may have literally come and gone, but metaphorically speaking there’s a long night ahead for the Cage Warriors roster. On Sunday all eyes will revert to Westeros for the Battle of Winterfell, but on Saturday the Viola Arena plays host to the Battle of Cardiff, as the Welsh warriors once again steadfastly defend their homeland against an international vanguard intent on taking crowns, momentum and bragging rights.
A War of Two Kingdoms
If I was asked to come up with a Game of Thrones analogy for Jack Shore, it could only be John Snow. Scott Malone may be the uncrowned King in the North, but its Abertillery’s favourite fighting son that currently has more in common with Ned Stark’s Bastard and the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Like Snow, Shore was born into a fighting dynasty; his father Richard has been a head coach and MMA father-figure for many of Welsh MMA’s leading lights. Alongside his own progeny, the elder Shore, first of his name, has developed such Cage Warriors veterans as Jack Marshman, Kris Edwards, Cory McKenna, Josh Reed and Martin McDonough.
Also like Snow, Shore is within touching distance of his ultimate goal. His career, arguably his entire life, has built towards this moment. An undefeated European lightweight amateur champion, Shore transitioned to the professional ranks while gradually adjusting to his optimal fighting weight. He’s taken the crown at 135lbs and now sits poised and ready to defend it. This is destiny manifest.
With the weight of expectation of an entire nation resting upon his shoulders, on Saturday night Shore will once again march into battle and put everything he has achieved, everything he has built and everything he has earned on the line… His opponent? A mysterious, enigmatic enemy from the icy north…
Given his credentials as a commonwealth-level Judo player with dynamite in both fists (hence the moniker ‘Lord Boom-Boom’), Scott Malone’s rise to the top was always going to be a matter of when, rather than if. Much like the Night King’s march on Winterfell though, it seems to have taken much longer than anyone expected.
Malone has had a litany of bouts fall through for reasons beyond his control; a cursory glance at his Tapology page shows ten battles that were never fought. Had fate played a different hand it could have been His Lordship reigning over the bantamweight division, with Shore as the potential usurper. These ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ will be resolved on the battlefield though. On Saturday, Malone marches south with his army and nothing less than total annihilation will be an acceptable result.
It’s a classic Cage Warriors contest in the vein of Danny Roberts vs Jim Wallhead, or Dan Hardy vs Matt Thorpe. Two of the UK’s best willing to risk it all for their country, and the crown.
King vs Kong
It took me a while to come up with a Game of Thrones metaphor for Aaron ‘King’ Khalid, but that speaks volumes for how unique a competitor the 25 year old Welshman is.
My first thought was The Viper; a technical wizard with a keen eye for fight-ending openings. There’s also a fair comparison to Bron of the Blackwater; one of the best, albeit most underrated and cunning fighters on the battlefield. Yet with a three fight winning streak behind him and his only defeats in recent years being narrow losses to the current champion, many would argue that Khalid has a legitimate claim to the throne and as such, is Cage Warriors Gendry.
Tom ‘Kong’ Watson is The Hound of the roster; a relentless brawler that makes up for his lack of finesse with sheer bloody-mindedness. Like Sandor Clegane he may not be the youngest man on the battlefield, nor the most graceful, but he could well be the most dangerous in single combat.
With leg kicks that land like hatchets to the thigh and an insurmountable will that has seen him unload unreal amounts of punishment against some of the world’s best, anyone expecting to walk away from a fight with ‘Kong’ should expect to do so battered, bruised and with a limp.
The Prince That Was Promised
With a crown of golden locks and a right hand that might as well be made of metal, Mason Jones is Cage Warriors’ Jamie Lanister. In Game of Thrones, Lanister is known as the Kingslayer… if you’ve seen ‘The Dragon’ fight you’ll likely agree that it won’t be long before he turns his weapons on Cage Warriors royalty. Who exactly will be wearing the crown when Jones strikes though is a riddle for another day.
Jones’ path to the lightweight crown is hardy clear. Standing in his way on Saturday night is a Cage Warriors veteran: Belgium’s Donovan Desmae. ‘Vegas’ has had bouts lined up against current title challenger Jai Herbert, former featherweight champion Paddy Pimblett and old foe Hubert Geven in recent months. He’s Daario Naharis; the warrior’s warrior, willing to face any man in front of him for the right price.
A Song of Fire and Ice (Arena)
Saturday night looks to be another classic chapter in the annals of Welsh combat. In addition to the above, former title challenger Josh Reed will seek to continue his Theon Greyjoy-like redemptive arc, after returning to winning ways at last month’s Cage Warriors Academy. Meanwhile the 5’3 Corey McKenna will look to prove that like Arya Stark, she’s the deadliest little person in the room. McKenna faces unbeaten Swedish prospect Fannie Redman in main card action.
Cage Warriors 104 is set to be a night of high drama, suspense and intrigue. A night upon which warriors seek vindication, while legends continue to grow.
Ultimately a throne is up for grabs… but this is no game.
By Brad ‘Littlefinger’ Wharton
Doors at the Viola Arena open at 4PM. Tickets are still available HERE.