One of the most anticipated Cage Warriors cards of 2023 hits Rome on Saturday morning, and should serve as a worthy appetizer for UFC 291 later in the day.
The main event will feature a super fight of sorts as Cage Warriors flyweight champion Shajidul Haque takes on former bantamweight champion Michele Martignoni in Martignoni’s very own backyard of Fiera Roma.
Fight fans can catch Cage Warriors 158 streaming live in its entirety on UFC Fight Pass with the prelims set to kick off at 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT. The main card will get underway at around 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.
Cage Warriors Flyweight Championship — Haque vs. Martignoni
Michele Martignoni, one of Italy’s top prospects in any weight class, turned heads when he defeated Dom Wooding for the Cage Warriors bantamweight championship last fall in the very same building he will be competing in on Saturday. Martignoni’s dynamic attacking style posed problems for Wooding, effectively sapping his power by the third round en route to a dominant decision victory. The promotion’s bantamweight championship would be defended in Rome once again back in the spring, but without Martignoni who vacated the title to move down to flyweight in hopes of becoming a two-division champion while significantly raising his profile in the sport.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁'𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝘅⁉️
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) July 28, 2023
To join the likes of two-division Cage Warriors champions Conor McGregor, Paddy Pimblett, and Mason Jones (more on him later), Martignoni will need to take out another talented fighter in Haque, who captured Cage Warriors gold for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2022. Haque is a seasoned fighter who competed against a consistently high level of competition in promotions around the world after a mostly successful initial run in the promotion. He returned in 2020, coming up short against UFC flyweight Jake Hadley before taking his talents to Almighty Fighting Championship and Ares FC. Upon returning to Cage Warriors for a third stint, he was granted a flyweight title shot and made good on the opportunity, adding an impressive piece of hardware to his collection.
Now 32, Haque is intent on competing in major promotions, but in a division where speed is as important a factor as any, he will need to act fast to show UFC and Bellator he is ready for the big time. A win over a well-rounded fighter like Martignoni could do just that. Haque loves to strike, and in fact is as clean of a striker as any non-UFC flyweight at the moment. He is far more polished on the feet than his opponent, who mixes in an evolving striking game with his grappling and pace to befuddle opponents. If he can stop Martignoni’s takedowns, he could very well pick him apart on the feet en route to a competitive decision or knockout in the early-middle rounds. However, if the Italian is able to get out of the box, he could prove to be a runaway train, perhaps himself breaking his opponent in the later rounds.
Another factor will be the weight cut for Martignoni. The talented and charismatic 27-year-old successfully made championship weight and will be competing at flyweight for the first time as a professional, though he did make weight for a 132-pound catchweight fight against Scott Malone this time last year.
Oddsmakers currently see the challenger Martignoni as roughly a -150 favorite, while Haque can be bet at around a +125 price tag. It is worth noting that Martignoni has been favored on the odds just once in his career when he took on Adam Amarasinghe. The fight ended in a No Contest following an accidental eye poke.
Rest of the Card
The co-main event will see Lithuania’s Naglis Kanišauskas take on Italy’s Dario Bellandi at 185 pounds. One week after Mick Stanton put a stamp on the Cage Warriors middleweight division, two contenders will jockey for position in front of a partisan crowd for 5-1 Bellandi. Kanišauskas is no slouch himself, and at 22-years-old has been making fight-over-fight improvements. Both fighters are notable for having dropped decisions to another Cage Warriors middleweight contender in Will Currie, who seems to be next in line for a title shot.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) July 29, 2023
Cage Warriors 158 will also see the return of the previously mentioned Welsh star Jones following an extended break. The ultra-talented Jones won both the lightweight and welterweight titles under the Cage Warriors banner before getting signed to the UFC, where he went 1-2 with one no contest, though his record is somewhat skewed. He made his UFC debut during the COVID-19 era against Mike Davis, on short-notice no less, and delivered a three-round fight of the year contender. He then proceeded to dominate Alan Patrick before an accidental eye poke brought the bout to a premature conclusion, and after the rebooked fight fell through, fended off a game David Onama on short notice once again. He faltered as a -400 favorite against Ludovit Klein in his most recent fight, which took place this time last year. While he did not give a very good account of himself, he now finds himself in a get-right spot against Alexandre Ribeiro. Ribeiro should be a game opponent, but Jones a talented, motivated fighter like Jones is a tough night at the office for any Cage Warriors lightweight.
Still just 28, Jones will look to show he deserves another shot in the UFC.
Rounding out the main card is a women’s strawweight fight between Brazil’s Amanda Torres and Italy’s Micol Di Segni. Di Segni owns a victory over UFC strawweight Cory McKenna, and a victory over a tough veteran like Torres in front of her home fans could turn heads at the UFC. A win would also give her four victories in her last five fights. James Power and Michael Pagani will open the main card at 155 pounds in a battle of unbeaten prospects. Pagani will have the fans at his back, but Power has lived up to his name with knockouts in four of five wins and a doctor stoppage in his most recent outing against Łukasz Kopera.
With fights subject to change as always, be sure to stay locked in to MMASucka for up-to-the minute results and updates.
Cage Warriors 158 Results
Shaj Haque def. Michele Martignoni via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) — For the Cage Warriors Flyweight Championship
Dario Bellandi def. Naglis Kanišauskas via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Mason Jones def. Alexandre Ribeiro via TKO (punches) at 3:23 of Round 1
Amanda Torres def. Micol Di Segni via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Michael Pagani def. James Power via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Emanuele Zaccaria def. Sylwester Miller via Submission (RNC) at 3:38 of Round 2
Leon Hill def. Dumitru Girlean via Submission (RNC) at 3:51 of Round 1
Niko Ceraglia def. Simone Manno via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Gianluca Scottoli def. Sam Kelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Gianluca Rocca def. Guido Possidente via Submission (Guillotine) :31 of Round 1
Daan Duijs def. Alexander Sasha Pirev via TKO (strikes) at 2:40 of Round 1
Giacomo Michelis def. Idriss M’roivili via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Emanuele Sabatino def. Aaron Johnson via Submission (Arm Triangle) at 3:36 of Round 1
Emanuele Tetti def. Dario Palazzo via Knockout (left hook) at 1:09 of Round 1
Amir Malekpour def. Florian Doskja via TKO (punches) at 2:30 of Round 2