Cage Warriors 137 Preview; Team KF’s Chaaban, Kouadja vs Bonner

Cage Warriors return to our screens with another double header this Friday night with the first half of a couple of back to back quick hitters. Cage Warriors 137 will be an “Unplugged” show with an invite only guest list in attendance. There will be six fights on tap.

In the main event, Matthew Bonner (11-7-2) is hoping to continue his march towards a 170lb title shot to add to his previous 185lb title reign. The Next-Gen Liverpool man was victorious on his return to the weight with a rear naked choke win over Hugo Pereira. The 31-year old is a very strong grappler who does damage in the ground and pound or will look to work in submissions. He’s not the type to stall. His finishes are a nice mix of knockouts and submissions. Joël Kouadja (7-8) is the opponent. He’s from the Atch Academy in Paris and he trains with top European talents such as KSW featherweight champion Salahdine Parnasse and top ARES contender William Gomis. He is a holder of one of the stranger records in MMA and you essentially need to split his career in two. He went 1-8 to start his life as a professional and has been perfect since with a 6 fight win streak. The Frenchman has nice footwork and is an accurate and powerful puncher. This will be a step up in opposition.

Bogdan Barbu (17-2) is a European scene veteran and a legend in his native Romania’s RXF promotion. He’s not a man to turn down a challenge and has competed in KSW, ACA and Eagle FC, fighting top talents in each promotion. He’s a very game fighter with slick submissions and is combative on the feet. Daan Duijs (7-1) isn’t your classic Dutch kickboxer, he’s a shark on the mats. He’s dangerous off his back with triangles and is lethal on top with strikes and back takes into submissions. This should be a fun fight wherever the fight goes and there should be plenty of action as neither man is afraid to engage.

Adam Cullen (4-0) is one of the top up-and-coming stars on the CW roster. The Next-Gen Liverpool man is a fantastic grappler and blitzed through his first three opponents with first round rear naked chokes. He showed a new wrinkle in his last fight, where he won via first round knockout. He’ll face a guillotine master in Arnaud Kherfallah (5-2). He’s also an Atch Academy fighter, making this two fights between the two gyms on the night. The Frenchman has plied his trade at top European promotion M-1 Global and finished some really tough opponents with his trademark guillotine. This will be a fascinating battle between two submission specialists. We could see a stand up battle if they neutralise each other.

Tanio Pagliariccio (7-2) is coming in with a unique fact, he’s the first SBG Ireland fighter to stick on the famous yellow gloves in a very long time. At one time, CW and SBG went together like fish and chips, relations in recent years haven’t been as strong. The Italian has a decent grappling game and has a nice guillotine in his arsenal. He’s yet to win via knockout. The challenger, Benoit Blanc (4-1), is dangerous off his back with triangles so that could lead to some interesting ground exchanges. He does have one KO on his record, beating Damien Pighiera in the second round.

Shoaib Yousaf (8-3) is a former IMMAF world champion and had an impeccable amateur record in general. He’s competed for top promotions such as ACA and Brave. He’s pretty well rounded and has a nice armbar. He has a few knockouts on his resume at pro. Michał Folc (6-4) is a training partner of KSW bantamweight champion Sebastian Przybysz and FEN featherweight champion Kacper Formela at Mighty Bulls in Gdynia. The last 2 losses on his record are to very tough opponents. He’s got a good ground game and is nifty at finding the back and sinking in a choke. On the feet he has to hang with killers in training, so will be well prepared to go when the bell sounds.

Ireland’s interest in the card is Team KF’s Omran Chaaban (2-1). “The Lebanese Gorilla” trains in Finland when he’s not out in Swords, and has recently signed a deal with CW after a couple of fights in UAE Warriors. He’s a good all rounder, with some lovely kickboxing. His question mark kick has caused opponents issues in the past. He will take on Jack Dedames (1-0), a man with a very good armbar. He won his last fight with some nice ground and pound. Chaaban has the edge on the feet and in experience and will attempt to assert his dominance early.

Cage Warriors 137 will be live on Friday night. The card starts at 21:00 and is live and exclusive 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.