Justin Burlinson and Matt Bonner both produced second-round submissions at Cage Warriors 135 to position themselves for a potential shot at the vacant Cage Warriors welterweight title.

Burlinson produced a superb fightback to overcome some serious early pressure from Poland’s Daniel Skibinski before finishing his man late in the second round.

It was an impressive finish to cap off a fun night of fights at the BEC Arena, as Burlinson bounced back from the disappointment of losing out on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Burlinson was knocked out in the first round by the heavy-handed former CFFC champion Yohan Lainesse at the UFC Apex last November. But the Sunderland native said he didn’t regret jumping at the opportunity, even though it didn’t work out for him at the time.

“Not really,” he said after his victory.

“I think any chance in life, especially in fighting, a lot of chances that come up once in a lifetime. So you just got to grab it while it’s there. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.

“But look where I am now. I’m back, with a win over a top opponent. And next in line for the title.”

Burlinson’s assessment looks like a solid one. The welterweight title is currently vacant, and Burlinson’s win puts him right in the title mix, along with the likes of Rhys McKee, Mateusz Figlak and another of Cage Warriors 135’s big winners, Bonner.

Burlinson’s next assignment could potentially find himself facing off against former middleweight champion Bonner, who picked up a submission finish of his own in the co-main event.

Bonner rear-naked choked Portugal’s Hugo Pereira in his 177-pound catchweight matchup to right the ship after losing his 185-pound strap to France’s Djati Melan at Cage Warriors 131 in December.

“It represents getting back on track in a new division,” he said after his win.

“It’s nice to get a win and get back on get back on this title run, hopefully.”

Pereira was a late-notice opponent after Bonner saw various attempts to get him high-grade opposition fell through. But “The Beast” was full of praise for his opponent for stepping in on just a few days’ notice.

“We had ex-UFC fighters who refused the fight. We had two guys who signed the contract who ended up stepping out. So for Hugo to step in on what was about three days notice, you can’t help but respect the guy.”

Now Bonner has his sights on success at 170 pounds, and said he’d be happy to face off against Burlinson, who he described as being at the “top of the food chain in Europe.” But he kept the door open for a return to 185 pounds, if the right opportunity presented itself.

“If I can make the weight safely, which I know I can now, then I think my future will probably be in the welterweight division,” he confirmed.

“If there’s something really exciting that happens at middleweight, or maybe I’ll win the welterweight tournament or the welterweight belt and there’s a chance to go for the middleweight belt then, that’s a possibility. So I certainly won’t say no to a middleweight fight.”

Cage Warriors 135: Official Results


  • Justin Burlinson def. Daniel Skibinski via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 4:54
  • Matthew Bonner def. Hugo Pereira via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 0:51
  • Milad Ahady def. Antonio Sheldon via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Giuseppe Ruggeri def. Dean Trueman via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Liam Gittins def. Edward Walls via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


  • Adam Shelley def. Steve Hooper via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:21
  • Omiel Brown def. Dan Hepworth via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:31
  • Federico Pasquali def. Paull McBain via TKO (elbows) – Round 1, 2:17
  • Hugo Guillon vs. Matty Byfield ruled a no contest (accidental low blow) – Round 2, 2:57
  • James Sheehan def. Karol Michalak via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 2:18
  • Caolan Loughran def. Bakhtyaar Oryakhail via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:29
  • Ryan Shelley def. Magfi Gereev via TKO (elbows and knees) – Round 3, 2:12
  • Ander Sanchez def. Connor Wilson via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:30