Cage Warriors Academy South East 23 preview: Butters and Edwards meet in mouth-watering Battle of Anglia clash
- Credit: Archant
One of the biggest and best MMA cards ever seen in this region happens in Colchester on Saturday. Mark Heath previews the action at Cage Warriors Academy South East 23, which is headlined by the huge ‘Battle of Anglia’ main event.
What, when and where
Cage Warriors Academy South East 23 will be held at the Charter Hall in Colchester on Saturday, April 13.
As it stands there are a bumper 33 fights on the card, topped by the huge Battle of Anglia clash between two of the region’s best-known and most talented pro fighters, Colchester’s Craig Edwards and Norwich’s Scott Butters.
The first fight is set for 4.30pm, with the main event expected at around 10.30pm.
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There are still a few tickets left, which will be available on the door on the night – first come, first served. If you can’t make it in person, the whole show will be screened live on the promotion’s Facebook page.
Battle of Anglia
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What a fight! The lightweight battle between Edwards and Butters is a sensational match-up to decide who is the best 155lbs fighter in the region.
Edwards, who fights out of Colchester’s powerhouse BKK Fighters Gym, will have the home support against visitor Butters, who plies his trade from the thriving Elite Gym in Norwich.
But there is arguably more pressure on the talented Colchester man who, despite his many weapons, is just 1-3 in his pro career so far. Butters, in contrast, boasts a 2-1 mark.
Both are coming off defeats though – Edwards was stopped by the slick French striker Mehdi Ben Lakhdar at Cage Warriors 99 in Colchester last November, while Butters suffered a shoulder injury in his stoppage defeat to respected veteran Kim Thinghaugen at Contenders 24 in Norwich last September.
The main event is actually a rematch – the duo have gone to war once before, as amateurs, all the way back in June 2014.
Edwards started fast, rocking Butters with a head kick in the opening moments and then punishing the Norfolk grappler for much of the first round.
But Butters survived and turned the tables in round two, locking in a rear naked choke to secure the submission win.
Five years on, both are much-improved, more mature fighters – it will be fascinating to see who’s better now, all these years later. And if Edwards wins, what chance a rubber match to settle the trilogy?
“I think it’s going to be a really good fight – if you watch that first fight back, that’s not what we are now.
“From that, Craig went on an absolute tear and was beating everyone. As a pro, his record doesn’t do him justice. He’s an absolute animal and he’s got the same attitude as me, he wants to fight the best.
“I’m going to play it a little bit differently. I’m going to go out there a lot more relaxed, and I’m not going to take a head kick in the first 20 seconds!
“I think there’s a very good chance of a TKO victory for me – we’ve seen a few holes in his game, and there’s going to be elbows!”
“I think I’m just going to beat him up.
“I let him off the hook last time – I could have finished him, but I just got carried away and beat myself.
“I’ve got the advantage in the striking, and I think I have the advantage on the ground as well. I’m a lot more physical than Scott is, and I think this is a good fight for me.
“This is my chance to start turning things around, just like I did in the amateurs when I won five fights in a row. If I can put on a show here then after this one, or one more, I’ll be back on Cage Warriors.”
I think you’d have to make Edwards a slight favourite in this fight – and a poll on our website agrees, with 53% of readers tipping him to win.
He’s the naturally bigger, stronger man, and will expect to be the better striker. I’d imagine he will be happy to keep the fight on the feet and try to pick Butters apart.
In contrast, Butters’ key to victory – as it was in the first fight – will probably be getting the fight to the floor. He’s a gifted grappler, particularly adept at snatching up chokes, and will fancy his chances on the ground.
But Edwards is no slouch on the mat either, and Butters has greatly improved his striking by working with K1 fighters at Elite, so I don’t see either man being dominant in any area. It’s a must-watch fight, so don’t miss it!
Titles, titles, titles!
Away from the main event, there are no fewer than 10 amateur titles on the line in Colchester.
Connor Hayes and Steve Riformato do battle for the middleweight belt, my prospect of the year George Tanasa and Stefano Morotti fight for the featherweight strap and massive talents Ollie Sarwa and Jack Eglin meet for the bantamweight gold.
Submission machine Muhidin Abubakar will go to war with Krzystof Pawlaczek for the flyweight belt, while Jamie Ward faces Guolaugar Por Einarsson for the welterwight title and Kerry Isom and Joanne Doyle clash for the women’s bantamweight crown.
The unbeaten Lexi Rook faces off with Sophia Haddouche for the female flyweight strap, Emanuele Palumbo and heavy-handed Phoung Tran meet for the lightweight gold, Eivor Hovde Hoff and Chloe Cooke fight for the ladies’ flyweight gold and, finally, Jon Vetle and Ian Odin Krause will trade blows for junior bantamweight glory.
So much talent
Cage Warriors Academy shows are known for featuring the best and brightest young talent in Europe, and this card is absolutely stacked with fighters who will go on to be stars in the paid ranks.
The aforementioned Tanasa is incredibly gifted – a dominant wrestler with powerful boxing – while both Sarwa and Eglin are two of the very best young bantams in the country. That is an unbelievable fight.
Abubakar will surely be a star on the next level and has a habit of pulling off highlight reel submissions, while Rook, though very early in her career, has the potential to go a very long way.
Digging deeper on the card, Norwich’s Chey Veal just keeps getting better and meets Gregorz Pawlaczek here – both Pawlaczek twins (Krystof fights Abubakar) are also worth keeping an eye on!
Another fighter on this card who has huge potential is Ben ‘The Problem’ Woolliss. In fact, I can’t think of a fighter who I’ve been more excited about in recent memory.
Super athlete Wooliss is an elite striker already - a pro K1 champion in numerous promotions, he’s also fought on Glory, the world’s best K1 show. Now moving into MMA, the big question will be how he adapts that brutal striking to allow for the threat of takedowns and grappling.
Very few foes will want to stand with him in those little gloves, so with a strong takedown defence and decent ground game, he could be a superstar in the MMA world.
Having won his debut by first round headkick KO, he faces Matthieu Moya (4-1) here and, if both he and fellow prospect Jimmy Fell (2-1) emerge from their fights unscathed (Bury’s Fell faces Hamza Himdy) they’ll meet for the featherweight title at Contenders 26 in Norwich on May 18.
MMA is, laughably, still illegal in Norway. Wake up please, Norwegian legislators!
Anyway, that doesn’t mean the country doesn’t have any good fighters – just that they have to come over here to fight!
And, for the first time ever, five Cage Warriors Academy fights will be streamed live on Norwegian television, a real step forward for the sport.
The five-fight mini card will be headlined by the pro clash between Jorgen Indsetviken and Eric Veyrier, which should be a cracking fight.