A title rematch, the return of a superstar, a Rocky story and more – five reasons to watch Cage Warriors 111
- Credit: Archant
Cage Warriors 111 at the 02 Arena on Friday could be the biggest night in East Anglian MMA history, with four of our fighters in action, including two in world title fights. Mark Heath tells their stories...
Topping the bill at the O2 will be Colchester's James Webb (6-1-1), defending his world middleweight title for the second time against Nathias Frederick (7-2-1).
The pair fought to a controversial draw in their first clash back in March, a fight which many thought Webb won - as it turned out, had Frederick not been docked a point in the final round for spiking Webb on his head, he would have walked out with the belt.
And Webb, who fights out of Team KF in Dublin and ZR Team in Colchester, is determined to put that right in convincing fashion this time, vowing to stop Frederick and put any doubts to bed.
Webb, 29, is a strong grappler with a lethal ground game - five of his wins have come by submission - but struggled with Frederick's incredible strength in their first fight, the UTC Birmingham man often just forcing his way back to his feet from compromising positions on the floor.
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But the Essex man, who still lives in the KF gym in Ireland as he bids to hone his craft, knows that a win here could well see him signed to the biggest stage of them all for UFC London back at the O2 next March.
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"I want to do it (the rematch) because I want to get the win and because he didn't bother me at all.
"He didn't stop one takedown - and he got taken down 12 times!
"I would do a lot of things differently in the rematch - stop mounting him for a start.
"I've done jiu-jitsu for a lot of years and no-one has ever just sat up when I've mounted them.
"I should have finished the fight. I'll definitely finish him in the rematch."
THE ROCKY STORY
A professional fighter since 2012, Steve Aimable has never been in the limelight - you won't see him calling other fighters out on Twitter, or causing scenes at press conferences.
But the 32-year-old (14-5) has always been super talented, and a change of jobs - he was previously travelling all over the country, training just twice a week - has coincided with an impressive four fight winning streak.
That has earned him a shot here at featherweight champ Mads Burnell (12-3), a man known for being a shark on the floor. He's won his last three by choke, including two straight by the rare Japanese neck tie.
A win for Aimable, who fights out of Colchester's BKK Fighters Gym, would be another chapter in a remarkable story, and he has added motivation this time - this is his first battle as a dad, wife Kayleigh giving birth to Indie just five months ago.
If Aimable can keep the fight standing and use his fast hands, accurate striking and relentless pressure, he could very well become the region's second world champion after Webb, and have the UFC knocking on his door too.
"It's definitely my biggest fight yet, and my toughest one too.
"I'm not going to lie and say that I'm going to play with him on the floor, because I don't want to be there! I think he'll get tired towards the end of the second round, when he's on the back foot and realising that his takedowns aren't going to work, and that's when I'll take over, keep pushing him and eventually get the stoppage.
"We've been working get ups against the cage and keeping safe - as long as I don't give him my neck I don't feel like he's as dangerous. If you don't give him what he wants, he can't neccesarily get it.
"This fight could open a lot of doors, which is going to benefit my whole family, and Indie doesn't want daddy to be a loser! It will definitely help motivate me and give me that extra bit of drive if I get stuck in a bad position."
Aimable also thanked his sponsors - MGM Clinics, ReachYourPeakTV, VC Cooke Ltd, Roar CBD, Whipstreet Motors, Sweeney Dodge, Sterling Gas Ltd, Bionic Rhino - Ian Chegwidden and Stone Sports Management.
THE HOT PROSPECT
There's a lot of buzz around the man they call the Anatolian Wolf, Emrah Sonmez, going into his Cage Warriors debut - and rightly so.
The 27-year-old featherweight (10-2) boasts an all-action striking style and a 90% finishing ratio, and is tipped to be one of the next big stars of the sport.
Sonmez, another BKK Fighters talent, suffered a serious knee injury in a fight in May 2018, but made his return to action in July and has promptly racked up another two stoppage wins.
He faces another much-hyped prospect here, Daryl Golding (7-1), who's won his last three fights by choke.
This looks like a nailed-on contender for fight of the night, and an opportunity for Sonmez to really announce himself on the big stage.
"I'm so excited. I'm fighting in my hometown of East London for the first time In a long time and I'm going to have like 200 people coming - there's going to be a lot of noise in there!
"I've watched a couple of Daryl's fights and I believe I'm going to have the advantage everywhere, striking, grappling, even on the floor. I've been doing freestyle wrestling and no-gi BJJ for years with high-level guys. Wherever it goes, we are prepared.
"As a fighter, you've only got to look at my record to see what I'm about - knock-outs, submissions, I'm a ninja!
"This is going to be a stoppage, I believe. I don't under-estimate anyone, but I'm looking for the first round finish.
"I believe I can make it to the top of the sport. With a spectacular KO or stoppage here, I can see me getting a chance at UFC London next March - if I can sell 200 tickets for this fight, I reckon I could do double that for the UFC!"
THE DREAM COME TRUE
When Scott Butters (2-3) walks into that Cage Warriors cage as the first fight of the professional prelims at around 5.30pm on Friday, it will be the culmination of a journey to his dream.
It's something that the Dereham man, who fights out of Elite Gym in Norwich, would be forgiven for thinking might never happen - a nose injury suffered while sparring as an amateur saw him told he'd never fight again.
But he got a second opinion and the all-clear before turning pro and duly winning his first two fights by stoppage.
All looked rosy, but the 32-year-old's desire to test himself against the best has seen him drop his last three fights against the talented trio of Kim Thinghaugen, Craig Edwards and Richard Mearns.
His dream had never looked further away - but then the call came. He'll square off with Kingsley Crawford (3-2) in a featherweight scrap here, in what looks to be a classic match-up of Butters' grappling and Crawford's striking. Time will tell.
"When I first started training I wrote down my goals - and this has been the main one since day one.
"I'm over the moon - I'm always excited before my fights, but this is something different, it's such a big card.
"Kingsley is a good fighter. He's going to want to strike, so that could be a good thing for me as I'll get to show my striking too, but I'm going to do whatever is needed for the win, whether that be striking, on the floor or up against the fence.
"It's the biggest stage I've been on, but by no means my toughest opponent - you could make the argument that this is the easiest of my last four fights, but obviously I won't be taking anything for granted.
"I just want to say a massive thanks to all my sponsors, and especially to my partner Danni for supporting me and pushing me."
REST OF CARD/HOW TO WATCH
As well as Webb/Frederick and Burnell/Aimable, there's another title fight on the card - Modestas Bukauskas, recently seen on TV show 'Take Me Out', defends his light heavyweight belt against Riccardo Nosiglia.
There's also the return of a superstar to open the main card, as Scouse supertalent Paddy 'The Baddy' Pimblett fights Ultimate Fighter veteran Joe Giannetti in a lightweight clash.
Charismatic submission ace Pimblett, the former Cage Warriors featherweight king, hasn't fought since losing a lightweight title tilt to Soren Bak in September 2018. Expect the roof to blow off the Indigo as he makes his walk to the cage!
The prelims start at 5.30pm on the Cage Warriors Facebook page, with the main card set to kick-off at 9pm on UFC Fight Pass.