Fight fans will be in for a double dose of Cage Warriors this weekend with CW 137 and 138 set to emanate from Charter Hall in Colchester, England on Friday and Saturday, headlined by a 177-pound catchweight bout between England’s Matthew Bonner and France’s Joël Kouadja.
Cage Warriors 137 Preview
Friday’s event will be “unplugged,” with the promotion taking influence from early-day MTV in order to give its fans a more intimate look at the fight game. Long before the UFC began running shows regularly at the Apex, Cage Warriors had the original concept before a global pandemic forced MMA companies around the world to adapt in order to survive. As a result, only a select few fans will get to see Friday’s show in person, and both shows will feature six-fight main cards as opposed to the traditional format with preliminary bouts.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) May 26, 2022
Bonner (11-7-1) will be making a quick turnaround after scoring an impressive win at CW 135 when he finished Brazilian Hugo Pereira with a rear-naked choke just 51 seconds into the second round. The victory gave Bonner, the native Englishman and former middleweight champion five wins in his last six fights after starting his career as a .500 fighter. He is a well-rounded fighter who loves to strike but has also shown an ability to get the job done on the ground against fellow strikers. All four of his submission wins have come via rear-naked choke and are yet to be finished himself 19 fights into his career, as all seven of his losses have come by way of decision.
Bonner had previously spoken of a desire to move down to 170 pounds while he was the middleweight champion in an attempt to join the likes of Mason Jones and Conor McGregor as double champions in the promotion. However, Djati Mélan spoiled Bonner’s plans back at Cage Warriors 131, and the former champion is now set for his second 177-pound catchweight fight as he mulls over what his future might look like in the promotion.
He will be taking on Kouadja (7-8), a former middleweight in his own right who has found himself in the center of a similar mid-career renaissance. While Bonner opened his career .500 through 13 fights, however, Kouadja started his career 1-7, but persevered in the sport and has since won his last six fights, all of which have come by finish. Most of his fights have occurred in 100% Fight, a promotion based out of Paris where Kouadja has fought primarily regional European competition, though the biggest win of his run came when he knocked off then 7-2 Victor Romero at 100% Fight 37. The Frenchman will now put his near four-year unbeaten streak on the line against a former champion in Bonner, and if he can surprise in Friday’s intimate setting, it will go down as his biggest win to date.
The second fight from the top is set to take place at 135 pounds, featuring Romanian Bogdan Barbu and Daan Duijs. Barbu (17-12), a 29-fight veteran of the sport, will be making the move down to 135 pounds for the first time in Cage Warriors and for the first time in nearly two years. The most impressive run of his career came between 2017 and 2018 when he won seven of eight fights, several of which came in the Moldovan-based Eagles Fighting Championship (not to be confused with Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s Eagle FC promotion). Barbu is an all-around mixed martial artist who prefers to strike but isn’t opposed to mixing things up with a level change, particularly towards the end of rounds.
Duijs (7-1) also prides himself on his well-rounded style, though five of his six wins have come on the ground. What makes him particularly dangerous is an ability to finish the fight from the top or off his back, as two of his wins have come by way of triangle choke while an additional pair of wins have come by way of ground and pound with an additional win on the amateur circuit being sealed with a triangle. However, the Gracie Barra Oss product will need to overcome an experience disadvantage if he’s looking to take out Barbu, though he has beaten tough fighters in the past. One of his triangle victories came against countryman Gerardo Fanny when both fighters were undefeated, and Fanny has since made the transition to Cage Warriors himself, going 2-2 through four fights.
Rest of the Card
The remaining four fights will feature up and coming European prospects all around. Unbeaten lightweight Adam Cullen, a homegrown talent for the UK-based promotion, will look to remain perfect against France’s Arnaud Kherfallah, who will be returning to the cage following a three-and-a-half-year layoff. Tanio Pagliariccio, one of a handful of talented Italian fighters coming up through Cage Warriors at the moment, will meet Frenchman Benoit Blanc at flyweight, and Shoaib Yousaf will fight Michał Folc at a 150-pound catchweight. Youngsters Jack Dedames and Omran Chaaban will open the card with a welterweight scrap.
Fans will be able to catch Cage Warriors 137 on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.