Cage Warriors 126: California Preview

Cage Warriors begin their US invasion this Sunday night at Humphrey’s By The Bay in San Diego, California. The famous yellow gloves haven’t been seen in action in the States since 2009. This will be the first American show since owner Graham Boylan revived CW a decade ago. Boylan is now living in San Diego and is looking to exploit a gap in the Southern Californian MMA market. Along with the change of scenery, there will be plenty of new faces on the broadcast, both in the cage and on the production side of things.

UFC veteran Kyle Stewart (13-4) will headline the card against John Poppie (10-5). Stewart, from the neighbouring state of  Arizona, is a very well rounded fighter. He has a lot of amateur experience to go with his pro fights. He is a US Marine and has served in Afghanistan which will tell you the toughness of the man. Poppie has worked with SBG fighters in the past in his other job as nutritionist / performance coach. He is a solid wrestler who isn’t afraid to brawl. This could shape up to be a bloody, gritty war.

Former collegiate wrestler Max Rohskopf (5-1) makes his first appearance since his UFC debut loss to Austin Hubbard. That step up ended up being much too soon for him. Along with his wrestling, he’s got a fantastic submission game. His main attacks will come through chokes. He will face fellow prospect “Jazzy” Jeff Creighton (4-1) in the lightweight division. Creighton will come in with a striking advantage and will look to push the pressure early in this one to test Rohskopf’s metal. These two are potential future champions.

Ayadi Majdeddine (10-3) takes on Nick Angeloni (5-1) in the lightweight division. Majdeddine is now based in Florida and likes to do work predominantly on the ground. He’ll look to submit you or hurt you with ground and pound from there. Angeloni is a local Californian and trains out of Alliance MMA with the likes of Dominick Cruz. All his fights were under the King of the Cage banner where he proved to be a tricky opponent who has some nice submissions.

A flyweight fight between Joseph Morales (9-2) and Kevin Wirth (8-2) should be fast and exciting. Morales is from Team Alpha Male so is really competent in the wrestling department. From there he likes to use his chokes to finish things. Wirth comes from Colorado and the training at altitude has given him cardio for days. He’s likely going to try and keep this standing and use some striking from the outside to neutralise the wrestling.

Brandon Laroco (5-2) vs Alex Trinidad (5-2) is another lightweight fight on the card. Laroco is 26, however he has been in the game a long time, starting out in 2013. He has struggled to stay active since turning pro. He is an all-rounder, with his submission game being his most proficient area. Trinidad is another locally trained fighter and will likely bring in big fan support. He is more of a striker and packs heat into his punches.

Terrance Jean-Jacques (5-2) is a former University of Iowa wrestler. He signed a developmental deal with the WWE as a professional wrestler. When that didn’t work out, he switched to MMA. It’s no surprise where he wants the fight to go. If that doesn’t work, he does have powerful striking to fall back on. He’s up against Zac Pauga (3-0) who is from the Elevation Fight Team in Colorado. He trains alongside the likes of Cory Sandhagen regularly. All his wins came in LFA against decent opponents. He’ll predominantly look to strike and use his submissions as Plan B.

Joshua Nakagawa (2-0) and James Lynch (2-1) will square off at 155lbs. Nakagawa is another Alliance MMA fighter so you can expect to see a well rounded skill set. Both his pro fights to date have been decisions so he’ll be eager to register his first finish. Lynch also trains out of San Diego. He had a solid amateur career and his only slip as a pro was a split decision loss against a way more experienced opponent. He has one finish on his record, a rear naked choke. Local bragging rights are on the line.

Niko Ruiz (2-0) will take on Sunni Imhotep (2-1) at featherweight. Ruiz has a Muay Thai base, however has finished his first two by rear naked choke. Imhotep has a Jiu Jitsu base with all his wins coming in the striking realms. This fight could end up anywhere. I suspect we may see a striking battle. It’s an intriguing style matchup.

Cody Davis (2-0) faces Enrique Marte (1-0) at flyweight. Davis’ solo finish came via rear naked choke. He’s more familiar with going the distance. Marte is an all-rounder with a slightly more prominent submission game. The odds are that this will be a fast paced fifteen minute battle. 

John Buttner (1-0) and Damon Wilson (1-0) are the least experienced fighters on the card. Buttner trains at Team Alpha Male and has a nice submission game. His only pro win came via knockout so he does have that ability. Wilson fights out of South Dakota. His sole victory was via decision. He used his striking to secure takedowns and control the fight. Let’s see how these prospects do under the bright lights.

Cage Warriors 126 takes place on Sunday night / Monday morning at 2am Dublin time (6pm California time) and will be live on UFC Fight Pass.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.