Khalid, Cage Warriors Wales
Aaron Khalid - Photo Credit: Cage Warriors Wales

Newport again played host to a fun night of fights where no bout went to the judges as Cage Warriors Wales: The Academy debuted, Ryan Bassett reports. The regional development banner of Cage Warriors, it showcased a deep pool of emerging talent as the main show ran simultaneously to Cage Warriors 81 in Dublin.

After the originally slated main event of bantamweights Josh Reed and Damo Weeden was lost due to an injury to Reed, Phil Wells (8-3) and Aaron Khalid (5-2-1) were promoted to the main attraction.

Khalid gets the win over Wells in Cage Warriors Wales main event

Wells and Khalid both returned tonight from victorious outings at Cage Warriors 79; Wells with a hard-earned decision over Toby Hartman and Khalid with a second round rear-naked choke submission over previously undefeated Adam Proctor. The welterweight prospects entered the cage to a raucous Welsh reception, Wells entered looking loose and confident where in stark contrast Khalid walked out steely-eyed and emotionless.

The opening stanza began with Khalid bobbing and weaving as he closed the distance assuming the center of the cage before Wells reacted and pushsed the action to the cage wall. Khalid attempted a judo style trip but Wells reversed for the takedown; landing in Khalid’s half guard. The remainder of the round saw Wells working for strikes from the top position but Khalid controlled his posture well to minimise its effectiveness.

Round two began with Wells landing a hard overhand right that shook Khalid who subsequently stumbled backwards. Wells then took advantage, jumping atop of Khalid. The main eventers briefly traded heel hook attempts before Khalid transitioned to a top position where he threatened a guillotine from an awkward position against the cage. Wells fought against the choke valiantly but suddenly went limp – unconscious and Khalid picked up the win via technical submission.

Shore stays perfect after first round submission of Gerolimatos at Cage Warriors Wales

In the featherweight co-main event, a battle to remain undefeated was upon us, as the Greek Alexandros Gerolimatos (2-0) travelled far from home to face local prospect Jack Shore (3-0).

Shore approached the cage to the now familiar chant of ‘Jack Shore is on fire’ looking calm and collected. Shore truly does have an insane local following resulting in a fantastical celebratory atmosphere whenever he competes.

Shore began the contest shooting a double leg takedown straight off the bat, but Gerolimatos quickly scrambled to his feet to land a hard elbow to Shore’s forehead. Shore is immediately cut and bloodied,  threatened by Gerolimatos’ half-guard guillotine. Shore slipped out of the threat and impressively transitioned to mount before seamlessly taking Gerolimatos’ back. Gerolimatos unsuccessfully tries to shake off Shore as he works to get the choke under the neck. Gerolimatos, still standing with Shore on his back, illegally grabs Shore’s gloves to defend and receives a verbal warning from referee Leon Roberts. It doesn’t help Gerolimatos and only serves to delay the inevitable as Shore manages to deeply sink in the choke. Gerolimatos dramatically crashes backwards to the canvas as he taps gifting another win to Shore in a very entertaining contest.

Elsewhere on the card, a lightweight bout saw a Polish late replacement in the debuting Gracjan Bak (0-0) against Welsh grappler Richard Williams (3-0).

The contest begins with Bak taking the center of the cage and controlling the pace early as both fighters settle in. But Williams threw a thunderous right hand that connected and dropped Bak to the canvas. Williams wasted no time and dives atop of Bak with precision ground and pound earning a TKO victory after only 59 seconds of the first round.

In the card’s only bantamweight offering of the evening, Englishman Damo Weeden (5-6) stepped up against another popular local fighter in Joe Orrey (9-8). In the opening flurry, Weeden connects clean on Orrey’s chin and he drops to the canvas. Weeden follows him down, immediately transitioning to take Orrey’s back where he fluently sinks in a rear-naked choke to secure the win after only 39 seconds of the contest.

Amatuer world champion Josh Ellis marks his pro debut with a win at Cage Warriors Wales

Another late replacement on the main card also saw another travelling Pole in Daniel Hodor (1-0) face 2015 IMMAF World Champion Josh Ellis (0-0) in his pro debut after a fractured hand caused delays in his foray into the professional ranks.

In Round one, Hodor caught an armbar attempt which Ellis escaped and utilises to pass to side control where the round ends. Hodor was visibly tired in between rounds.

Ellis shot for a successful double leg takedown early in the second where he was able to establish the top position and stands again to deliver ground and pound. Hodor this time uses rubber guard to nullify Ellis’ offence but Ellis moves Hodor to the cage in order to close down his movement. A haematoma appears under Hodor’s right eye. Ellis manages to pass the guard and works to side control. Sensing the Pole start to fade, Ellis transitioned to mount and then on to Hodor’s back where he locked in a body triangle and a rear-naked choke to secure an impressive win over a game opponent in his debut.

The opening fight of the main card saw another two debuting professional fighters in Englishman Ethan Charlesworth (0-0) match up with Welshman Nathan Ford (0-0).

After a back-and-forth start, Charlesworth scrambled a ford takedown to sink in a tight triangle choke for the win. 

The definitive highlight of the amateur undercard was in the second bout of the evening, Alun Yhnell scored a brutal knockout over Karl Redding from a hard left hook at 59 seconds of the first stanza that was the catalyst for a crowd eruption.

Cage Warriors Wales Full results:

Cage Warriors Wales Main Card – Pro MMA

Welterweight: Aaron Khalid def Phil Wells via Submission (Guillotine choke) in 0:56 of round 2

Featherweight: Jack Shore def Alexandros Gerolimatos via Submission (Rear naked choke) in 2:03 of round 1

Lightweight: Richard Williams def Gracjan Bak via KO in 0:59 of round 1

Bantamweight: Damo Weeden def Joe Orrey via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in 0:39 of round 1

Lightweight: Josh Ellis def Daniel Hodor via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in 4:05 of round 2

Featherweight: Ethan Charlesworth def Nathan Ford via Submission (Triangle) in 1:53 of round 1

Cage Warriors Wales Undercard – Amateur MMA

Welterweight: Josh Hudson def Jack Tucker via Unanimous Decision

160.5lb Catchweight: Michael Corston def Christopher Radcliffe via Majority Decision

Featherweight: Pedro Cardosa def Tom Karpinski via Unanimous Decision

Lightweight: Rob Bennett def Marcus Stevens via Split Decision

Lightweight: James Amos def Sami Hashim via Unanimous Decision

Middleweight: Christian Duncan def James McClean via TKO in 1:25 of round 1

Welterweight: Chris Smith def Keiron Bennet via Submission (Rear naked choke) in 2:50 of round 2.

160.5lb Catchweight: Oban Elliot def Callum Hanman via KO (headkick) in 0:46 of round 1

Lightweight: Ben Ellis def Franco Tenaglia via TKO in 2:05 in round 3

Light-Heavyweight: Jamie Boyle def Ragine White via Submission (head and arm choke) in 0:58 of round 2

Lightweight: Alun Yhnell def Karl Redding via KO in 0:59 of round 1

130lb Catchweight: Joel Collins def Chris Mardon via Decision (Split)