Cage Warriors 156 Preview; Bonner v Stewart

Cage Warriors are back on our screens on Saturday evening with a return to the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Cage Warriors 156 goes down on the banks of the River Ely at the Vale Sports Arena. There will be nine fights to look forward to on the night.

Matthew Bonner (14-8-1) is back at middleweight and is on the hunt to get his old belt back. The Englishman has proved quite successful at the weight, picking up six wins in the yellow gloves. The Next Gen Liverpool fighter has been getting it done with his boxing in recent times, showing finishing power. The 32-year-old marries this with good wrestling where he can take your back and submit or hit you with ground and pound. The Warrington man has never been finished. There’s an item on his bucket list that he wants to check off, beating a UFC veteran. Darren Stewart (14-9) fits that description. The East Londoner went a very competitive 5-7 (2NC) in the big show. The Englishman comes in on a two-fight win streak and wants to keep that ball rolling. “The Dentist” is a huge threat on the feet and has eight knockout wins on his résumé. Fists, knees and elbows will be thrown with reckless abandon from the 32-year-old. He can sometimes be too willing to accept positions on the ground, which he definitely can’t do with Bonner. This is a battle between two lads as tough as they come.

Reece McEwan (6-1) is one of the biggest prospects on the Cage Warriors scene. The Scot has a hat-trick of wins under the bright lights, two of which came within the distance. Submissions are his biggest strength and he has great versatility in using them. The 28-year-old is a choking machine and he can grab your neck from the back, in the guillotine, with a D’arce or from the arm triangle. You simply can’t offer any openings or you’re napping. Leonardo De Oliveira (8-5) makes his CW debut and has only competed in Europe once before, in Paris at Ares FC. The Brazilian is also mainly a submission guy, specialising in taking the back and going for the rear naked choke. The 32-year-old is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu.

Andy Clamp (11-2) is one of the few light heavyweights operating at the top of the U.K. and Ireland scene. The Englishman is looking to pick up his first victory after losing in his first appearance. “The Vice” carries most of his threat on the feet, with seven wins via knockout. In the submission game, he uses those long legs well with the likes of triangle chokes. Ghassan Abdenabi (4-0) makes the trip across the Channel. The Dutchman stands at 6ft4in, which is quite short by their standards. The 31-year-old is a kickboxer and a big finisher. Like many of his compatriots, he’s handy at submissions as well. Always good to see the big men throwing down in the yellow gloves.

Rory Evans (5-4) is one of a trio of athletes flying the Y Ddraig Goch in their home country. The Welshman had a slow start to life as a pro, losing three of the first four. The 30-year-old then won four on the bounce, before a tough loss to Liam Gittens in April. The Swansea man is a solid grappler and he loves to do damage with ground and pound or take your back. Jack Eglin (3-2) will feel right at home in Wales as he trains out of the Dragon’s Lair in Melksham. The Englishman forged his path through the CW Academy system and has gone 1-2 on the main show, including picking up his first win last time out back in March. He carries a threat wherever the fight goes and will be keen to bludgeon his opponents with knees, elbows and punches.

Jimmy Quinn (debut) makes the walk for the first time as a professional after a solid amateur career. The Englishman was the CWSE bantamweight champion and has made waves with his exciting fighting style. The 23-year-old is a very solid submission player and pairs that with a flashy kickboxing game. Dan Kneil (1-2) will play the role of potential spoiler. The Englishman has a win over Scott Pederson at amateur level and won his last fight with a quick knockout after fourth-three seconds.

The aforementioned Scott Pederson (3-3-1) heads up the prelim section of the card. A true “anybody, anywhere, anytime” type of guy. The Welshman is an IMMAF veteran and his losses are all to tough opponents. The Shore MMA man has got his record back to .500 with a pair of wins recently, and will be looking to get a winning record for the first time in front of his compatriots. Like his gym-mates, the 26-year-old is very well rounded and can take the fight anywhere. Finishing is his specialty. Yohan Salvador (3-4) has a similar sort of background, losing his first three fights before winning three of the next four, a good reminder that records are for DJs. We haven’t seen much finishing threat in the 29-year-old’s game, however he has the cardio and skill to last the distance, outworking you to a decision. The Frenchman isn’t here to make up the numbers.

Milad Ahady (5-1) is a hot talent coming out of Team Fish Tank under the legendary Andrew Fisher. The Afghanistan man has two CW wins in a row, both by decision. He’s a solid IMMAF veteran with a good choke game and decent kickboxing. Marcondes Bastos (4-4) is a Brazilian living and training out of Porto, Portugal. The 29-year-old’s biggest moments have been in the submission game. He comes in off a good arm lock win back in April.

Stephanie Evans (0-1) completes the trio of hometown heroes competing on Saturday. The Welshwoman is another IMMAF veteran. The Shore MMA lady is a solid grappler with a heavy top game. She came up short in her debut to Jasmine Favero last August. Małgorzata Tkocz (debut) is moving up to the pro level for the first time. The Pole is a former three-time national amateur champion. The Knurów native is a slick striker with vicious elbows. Volume of punches is a big strength and she’ll want to keep this one standing.

El Hadji Ndiaye (4-2) will open the show and wants to prove it’s third time lucky after losing his first two promotional bouts. The Parisian by way of Dakar, Senegal has a good wrestling game and is decent on the feet. Marin Vetrila (2-0) is currently training out of Northampton. The Moldovan is predominantly a striker with a lot of power, with a devastating high kick in particular. This man doesn’t go the distance and is always looking to finish.

Cage Warriors 156 is live and exclusive this Saturday on UFC Fight Pass. The action kicks off at 18:00.

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.

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