Matthew Bonner has his first assignment as Cage Warriors middleweight champion.
“The Beast,” who captured Cage Warriors 185-pound gold with a fourth-round submission of Nathias Frederick at Cage Warriors 123 in June, will take on undefeated Ivory Coast-born Frenchman Djati Melan at Cage Warriors 131, which takes place Friday, December 10. The event, which forms the first leg of the promotion’s “Double Trouble” double-header at London’s York Hall, will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.
Ahead of the matchup, Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan paid tribute to Bonner, who made the breakthrough from contender to champion during the promotion’s behind-closed-doors “Trilogy” events.
“Matthew Bonner was one of the breakout fighters of the ‘COVID-era,’ with four wins behind closed doors,” he said.
“Those four wins were no small task either, he beat an upcoming prospect in George Smith, a Cage Warriors legend in Matt Inman, he knocked out former champion James Webb and then he was able to submit Nathias Fredrick to win the middleweight title.
“That’s no small feat and shows the progress he has been making in his career.”
Bonner will face a fresh challenge in the form of Melan, who is unbeaten at 7-0, with his lone previous Cage Warriors appearance resulting in a first-round knockout of Arvydas Juska at Cage Warriors 80 back in 2017.
Now Melan is looking to return to action after almost two years away, and Boylan said he expects the Paris-based middleweight to provide a serious test of Bonner’s championship credentials on December 10.
“Melan is a guy I’m excited to have back with us at Cage Warriors,” he said.
“In his time away he’s racked up a few more wins over experienced guys and he has strength and power in his arsenal, too.
“You’ve also got to remember that Melan’s wins come over guys with good records and that COVID-19 and the effects it had on sports played a huge role in slowing his momentum, so we need to see if he can carry on where he left off.
“There’s layers to this fight and that’s going to make it an interesting watch.”
Bonner heads into the bout on a four-fight win streak, with three of those victories, including his title-winning performance against Frederick, coming inside the distance.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the Cage Warriors ‘Double Trouble’ card,” he said, via press release.
“Melan brings an unblemished record and I’m more than happy to hand him his first defeat.
“I’m determined to keep the title that I have worked so hard to gain and put on another fantastic performance that will get me on the radar of the UFC.”
Melan said he’s ready to grasp the opportunity with both hands as he looks to return to active competition with a bang in the English capital.
“This is a great opportunity that I am training very hard for,” he said.
“I have a big team behind me making sure I’m in good condition for December 10.
“Taking this belt will be a good way to show that our hard work is paying off.”
Cage Warriors 131: Confirmed bouts
- Matthew Bonner vs. Djati Melan – for Cage Warriors middleweight title
- John-Martin Fraser vs. Christian Leroy Duncan
- Oban Elliott vs. Madars Fleminas
Photo credit: Dolly Clew/Cage Warriors