Cardiff was blessed with an exciting event last night as the Cage Warriors middleweight championship belt stayed tightly around the waist of Jesse ‘JT Money’ Taylor in the Welsh capital, with Taylor breaking the hearts of the emotional Welsh crowd by outclassing the hungry John Phillips. The card was jam packed with perfect match ups and highly contested bouts as most of the fighters who came out on top had to do so decisively to prevent the judges from controlling their fate. Cage Warriors 54 saw plenty of promising prospects take a big step forward in their careers and the Championship match up was the only fight that was one sided.
The champion, Jesse Taylor (26-9) defended his new belt for the first time in what can only be described as pure domination over the hometown hero John Phillips (16-6). Phillips had a mix up with his shorts prior to the match commencing and was delayed with his entrance into the cage for around 5 minutes whilst his Rocky entrance music rolled over 3-4 times. When the bout finally got under way it wasn’t much of an underdog success story for Phillips, who was taken down in no time, cut up with a brutal barrage of headshots and eventually submitted early in Round 1 with a tight guillotine choke from the champ. Taylor picked up his 26th career victory in style and showed exactly what the Cage Warriors middleweight division needs to look out for in a submission wrestling clinic from the get-go. Who is next for JT Money? We will have to wait and see but there are plenty of opportunities including Gael Grimaud (17-6), who recently lost his 170lbs title but submitted Taylor last year at welterweight.
Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts (8-1) showed exactly why he is mentioned with the top names in the UK at the moment in the evening’s co-main event by finishing Diego Gonzalez (15-8) in remorseless fashion. The first round, however, was a close one on the scorecards with Gonzalez getting a big takedown and Robert’s landing excellent two punch combinations. In the second round, yet again Robert’s found himself in bottom position after attempting a guillotine choke to no avail. However, when Roberts reversed to a standing position, he applied a Thai clinch and started throwing huge knees and punches which sent Diego Gonzalez’s head in all sorts of directions. Finally, Gonzalez slumped and Roberts swarmed in at 3:02 of the second round as Marc Goddard stepped in to hand Roberts the victory via TKO. A highly impressive return for Danny Roberts and his post-fight reaction showed exactly what the win meant to him with an emotional coming together with his team, Liverpool’s Next Generation.
Potentially the biggest crowd reaction of the night was for Lewis “The Foot” Long (7-2) who used expert striking and a few impressive takedowns to win all three rounds against Mark Glover (6-2-1), who managed to keep himself in the fight and battle back. Glover ate so many of Long’s biggest shots and threw back with venom but it was the leg kicks and punishing body blows that won the fight for Long. Long was Liddel-esque in his stalking of Glover throughout the fight and waited for the best opportunities to land – and land he did whilst Glover continued to shrug off the strikes and taunt Long but it was eventually a unanimously scored 30-27 against him.
Ivan Buchinger (22-4) returned to winning ways with an all-round war against veteran Jason Ball (20-12). Ball used short standing elbows well with his back to the cage but got caught with some big shots from the Slovak, including a couple of hard spinning back fists and flying knees. Beforehand, Martin McDonough (11-4) and Brett Johns (7-0) jumped up another rung on the ladder of the bantamweight division and sent the Welsh crowd into raptures in doing so. “Mr Pink” McDonough overcame Mark Platt (10-10) after losing Round 1 with a beautiful sweep from bottom position and straight onto the back of Platt, winning by way of Rear Naked Choke early in Round 2. This was his 5th straight submission victory. Johns put on an incredible display of judo with some awesome transitions and submissions including a leap to back control and a standing d’arce choke before finishing definitively with sharp elbows and power punches from half guard. Watch out for both of these Welsh bantamweights to look to improve their records in the next few months as neither took very much damage in their bouts.
The evening’s undercard was a grappling showcase. We saw an incredible comeback victory from Steve ‘Taz’ McCombe (17-19-1), who was dominated in the first two rounds, when he sunk in a beautiful Rear Naked Choke to render Joe Orrey (7-7) unconscious and attempting to strike with the referee on his awakening. Jamie Rogers (9-6) and Shaj Haque (3-0) each took split decisions in close battles and Matt Inman (10-5) landed too many blows to the head of Frenchman Leon Kenge (6-3) and eventually convinced the referee to call off the fight early in the third round, despite Kenge not falling and still throwing heavy hands.
The next Cage Warriors card has a lot to live up to and will take place on Saturday 11th May from Al Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates with a card headlined by the return of Cage Warriors journeyman, Jack Mason (23-11).
Cage Warriors 54 results:
Jesse Taylor def. John Phillips via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:43 – to retain CWFC middleweight title
Danny Roberts def. Diego Gonzalez via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:02
Lewis Long def. Mark Glover via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ivan Buchinger def. Jason Ball via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Brett Johns def. James MacAlister via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:23
Martin McDonough def. Mark Platts via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:18
Shaj Haque def. Kris Edwards via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Matt Inman def. Leon Kenge via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:03
Jamie Rogers def. Brad Wheeler via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Steve McCombe def. Joe Orrey via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 1:48
Owain Parry def. Rob Leybourne via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:11
This review was brought to you by TeamPLUS contributor Craig Lish