The UK leg of Cage Warriors’ 2024 World Tour kicks off this weekend in Manchester, with a double-header no less.

The BEC Arena will play host to two consecutive fight nights with very distinct flavours.

Friday sees the return of Cage Warriors: Unplugged, as a specially invited guest audience enjoys a stripped-back CW experience, with a heavy emphasis on Italian MMA.

Then on Saturday it’s the grand finale, as the BEC opens its doors to a sold out, capacity crowd for CW 168, featuring multiple title bouts and the return of one of European MMA’s hottest prospects in the toughest fight of his career.

Resident Play-by-Play commentator Brad Wharton takes a look forward at the highlights of one of 2024’s biggest weekends of European MMA.

The Return of a Champion

It’s been a fair while since we last saw Italian stallion Stefano Paterno in the famous yellow gloves, 2018 in fact.

Stefano Paternò: CW Champ

But what a night that was; a blood and guts, gritted teeth encounter with Ross Huston that was decided by the judges on the slimmest of margins.

Paterno will likely be hoping for an easier night at the office than that particular titanic struggle when he steps back into the CW limelight. He is, after all, an adept finisher; accustomed to forcing stoppages with his fists on the feet or the ground.

He won’t be the only finisher in the cage on Friday night though…

US import Scottie Stockman is something of a classic of the genre, having finished his last seven MMA victories in the first five minutes.

A seasoned amateur wrestler in his youth, Stockman has the ability to control opponents on the mat should his early aggression not bear fruit.

Smart money says this one doesn’t go the distance.

Everything to Play For

In the evening’s co-main event, a pair of certified finishers collide when recent title challenger Omiel Brown takes on a man who silenced the Manchester crowd on his CW debut last year.

Omiel Brown dropped the bomb on Jesse Urholin

Team Renegade’s Brown will be looking to put the memories of London 2023 behind him.

After blitzing Giannis Bachar in the opening seconds of his November title bout, Brown found himself a recipient of a taste of his own medicine.

He’ll have to be more patient against Rafael Aronov on Friday night, a fellow fast finisher with the world at his feet following an emphatic Cage Warriors debut in September ’23.

In a division that’s wide open, and with $50,000 Prizefighter opportunities on the horizon, Friday’s co-main could have repercussions that dictate the future of the CW welterweight division for years to come.

Where The Big Boys Play

Everyone loves a clash of the big lads, right? I certainly do, and this particular scuffle has all the ingredients to make it one of the most enticing light heavyweight clashes in recent European MMA history.

In Andrew Clamp, we have one of the most efficient ground fighters in Europe at 205lbs; an absolute savage of the submission game with the ability to put anyone in a bad position on the mat.

Standing opposite him is Matty Byfield, a Team Renegade prospect who himself has no qualms about taking a fight to the mat.

The prize? An opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Modestas Bukauskas as the latest Cage Warriors light heavyweight champ to head to the UFC.

One Final Test

They’re calling him Cage Warriors ‘Best Bout Machine’, and after Luke Riley’s 2023 campaign ended with two Fight of the Year nominations and wins in both Fight and Fighter of the Year, who are we to argue?

Luke Riley: Best Bout Machine

Riley’s rise has been meteoric, to the point that the conversations has already drifted from whether he’ll become CW champion and head to the UFC, to when he’ll become CW champion and head to the UFC.

With gold clearly in his sights, its time for one final test of his mettle, and they don’t come much tougher than Dominican-American John De Jesus.

A tall, rangy striker with a wealth of big fight experience, De Jesus might be one of the few 145lb’ers happy to try his luck with Riley in an out-and-out firefight.

With Riley on a tear and De Jesus on a streak of his own, there hasn’t been a fight in recent history with clearer title implications.


Can Southport’s finest put the red light light on ‘Green Light’?

That’ll be the question on everybody’s minds when the first bell rings on this UFC Fight Pass Exclusive title fight.

Robert Hernandez is gunning for gold

Hernandez is rapidly approaching the top of the bell curve on what is looking like one of the all time great Cage Warriors runs.

A nine fight winning streak, seven of which have come in the famous yellow gloves.

It’s an unprecedented run in the modern era, and should he cap it off with a big gold belt on Saturday, it’s a feat that would become the stuff of legend.

Liam Gittins, obviously, has other plans.

Liam Gittins: The Champ is here

Himself in the midst of a career-best run over multiple weight divisions, ‘Nightmare’ answered fate’s call late last year, stepping in for teammate Nathan Fletcher to challenge Reese McEwan for the vacant bantamweight title.

With his hands raised after what was his finest, most composed performance to date, thoughts quickly turned to his next challenge, and Hernandez was quick to step forward.

Months of bad blood on social media have led to this: A five round showdown for the gold, and one of the most intriguing title bouts in CW history.