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Gold Rush: Four Titles, Three Days, One Trilogy

Cage Warriors commentator Brad Wharton previews the 3 title fights taking place this week.

They say that the original always trumps the sequel, but I beg to differ. As counsel for the defence I present Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Cannonball Run 2 and now perhaps the work with the strongest case of all: The Trilogy Strikes Back. September’s initial Trilogy heralded a New Hope amidst the Jar Jar Binks of a year that is 2020. It’s time to go out with a bang, as eight men compete for four titles on three of the most stacked cards in European MMA history. 

Luke Shanks vs Jake Hadley – CW117, Thursday

MMA promotions are often accused of hyperbole when it comes to the practice of selling fights. Sometimes though, a bout comes along that is absolutely bulletproof. I could sit up all night with a thick dictionary, a slow-burning candle and an endless supply of cool beer and not come up with an unreasonable amount of adjectives to describe how good of a fight Luke Shanks vs Jake Hadley is. 

The pair have been pencilled-in to meet previously as amateurs, and again as professionals in the embryonic stages of their careers. Thursday night is Destiny Manifest: Both men operating at their absolute peaks and on the back of the most impressive performances of their respective careers. Hadley steamed through an all-time European MMA great in Shadj Haque in brutally efficient fashion on his Cage Warriors debut in September. Minutes later, Shanks turned in one of the most lopsided scorecards in MMA history, against an opponent who entered their bout as the betting favourite.  

It’s fair to say that their Cage Warriors 117 headliner may be the most highly credentialed European Flyweight title fight of all time. 

Nathias Frederick vs Jamie Richardson – CW118, Friday

A rock and a hard place. An unstoppable force and an immovable object. Nathias Frederick vs Jamie Richardson. It’s another bout where the cliches pale in comparison to the cold, hard truth: Two of the most viscerally violent individuals on the Cage Warriors roster are about to engage in some very bad behaviour. 

Frederick is something of an elemental; raw, unbridled power and aggression expressed through a human vessel. Richardson too has shown the ability to operate on a level beyond that usually achievable my mere mortals; channelling and unleashing the sheer power of will. 

Over nine torrid rounds with former champion James Webb, Frederick turned out a performance that almost defied common sense. In the latter rounds you could practically see the oxygen ignite as he sucked up vast lungfuls of air in an effort to keep swinging at his foe. Richardson also had to best a nemesis twice; abandoning any notions of pain, exhaustion and the general laws of physics to topple Phil Wells in the second of their encounters.

The pair will meet on Friday night in a battle of men for whom a backward step is virgin territory. 

Jack Grant vs Agy Sardari – CW119, Saturday

“All men are created equal” – Thomas Jefferson, 1776. Clearly he’d never seen Jack Grant or Agy Sardari with their shirts off. In fairness, had Grant and Sardari been around in Jefferson’s era, we’d probably all be talking with a Grimsby/Dutch twang by now. 

On Saturday night, Grant will make his second bid for Cage Warriors lightweight gold. If fate and favour are on his side he’ll emulate the efforts of Ivan Buchinger; the only man to take the 155lb strap at the second time of asking. For his part Sardari will look to achieve something even Buchinger couldn’t; winning the title on his debut in the famous yellow gloves. 

Both men offer a triple threat: They’re deadly strikers and awkward grapplers housed in the frames of world-class athletes. So don’t be a casual…tune in to this fight so that you can be honest when you tell your mates that you were aware of the next big thing. 

Morgan Charriere vs Perry Goodwin  – CW119, Saturday

And now, the end is near… and so we face the final curtain. It’s a curtain call we never thought or knew we wanted at the start of the year, but as 2020 ebbs away it’s absolutely the one we need. Morgan Charriere has been the heir apparent to the Cage Warriors featherweight crown ever since he took Soren Bak to the limit in Denmark in 2019. Perry Goodwin has been playing the spoiler for two years solid, and he’s ready to claim his prize. 

The stage is set for a contest that is so much more than the sum of its physical parts. Charriere is a legitimate superstar in his home nation; a darling of social media that found fame via YouTube. He just so happens to be absolutely lethal in the cage; a physical specimen that can grapple, strike and grind out victories with a level of maturity that belies his years. 

Goodwin, for his part, has waged war on the UK circuit in similar fashion: Any weight, anytime, anywhere. Over the past two years he’s performed in absolute defiance of anyone brave or foolish enough to write him off, stopping Alex Jacobsen dead with a stiff counter hook before dragging the welterweight Rhys McKee into one of the bloodiest, hard-nosed brawls in Cage Warriors history. 

On the back of a two fight winning streak at 145lbs, Goodwin will finally get the contest he’s earned on Saturday night. It just so happens to be Morgan Charriere’s moment in the spotlight as well. 

Each man possesses every ingredient in the recipe for violence. If they gave out Michelin Stars for MMA, this would be the absolute epitome of fine dining.   

Cage Warriors is Europe’s leading and longest-running mixed martial arts promotion.

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