Former Cage Warriors middleweight champion Matt Bonner won the battle of the beasts in the main event of Cage Warriors 137 as he claimed a second-round submission victory over France’s Joel Kouadja.

The two fighters share the same fighting moniker of “The Beast,” but it was Bonner whose relentless pace and pursuit of takedowns proved crucial as he ground down his opponent before finishing his man with a one-armed rear-naked choke at the Charter Hall in Colchester, Essex.

Kouadja entered the bout riding a six fight win streak, with all six of those victories coming inside the distance. But it was Bonner who pushed the pace and nullified his explosive opponent to maintain the upper hand through the dangerous opening exchanges of the fight.

The Warrington native had to fight smart to avoid Kouadja’s heavy-handed strikes at the start of Rounds 1 and 2. But the former 185-pound champion expertly closed the distance and dragged his man to the mat in both rounds. And, in the second stanza, he took his opponent’s back and locked up a rear-naked choke as he closed in on a finish.

Kouadja fought the hands and managed to loosen Bonner’s grip, but the Englishman would not be denied and, after applying the squeeze with one arm, managed to force the tap to secure the fifth submission victory of his career.

Bonner’s win improved his record to 12-7-1 and positioned him perfectly for a potential tilt at the Cage Warriors welterweight title, which will be contested by Justin Burlinson and Rhys McKee at Cage Warriors 40 in Belfast, Northern Ireland on June 25.

Daan’s the man as Dutchman impresses with slick sub

Dutch bantamweight Daan Duijs delivered a statement-making performance against Romania’s Bogdan Barbu to secure an impressive first-round submission finish and immediately spark title talk around the Cage Warriors newcomer.

Making his promotional debut in the co-main event, Duijs used his opponent’s aggressive start against him as he went to the canvas and looked to lure the 29-fight veteran into his guard.

Barbu obliged as he looked to punish the Dutchman from top position, but Duijs locked up a slick triangle choke to stop his opponent in his tracks and force a very quick tap as he secured a hugely impressive finish in his first Cage Warriors appearance.

Cullen delivers another quickfire finish

Undefeated English lightweight Adam Cullen produced another eye-catching performance as he defeated France’s Arnaud Kherfallah in impressive fashion to improve his perfect record to 5-0.

Cullen dropped Kherfallah just nine seconds into the bout as he started at full throttle. Then, rather than wave his opponent back to his feet, he followed the action to the mat and connected with some solid strikes from within Kherfallah’s guard as the Frenchman tried to tie him up.

Then, as the action returned to the feet, Cullen switched from striking to grappling as he swiftly took his man to the canvas, then locked up a tight anaconda choke that forced Kherfallah to tap at the 1:21 mark and add another name to Cullen’s list of victims.

Italy defeats France in flyweight battle

The flyweight bout between Italy’s Tanio Pagliariccio and France’s Benoit Blanc saw the two 125-pounders serve up plenty of action, but it was Pagliariccio’s striking that proved decisive as he earned a unanimous decision victory after three fast-paced rounds.

Pagliariccio kept an impressive pace throughout the contest and appeared to be cruising to victory when Blanc landed a huge kick in the final round that had the Italian on wobbly legs. But, remarkably, as Blanc moved in looking for a finish, Pagliariccio connected with a big counter shot of his own to stun his man and halt the Frenchman’s charge.

In the end, the bout went all the way to the scorecards, with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27 to the Italian, who improved his record to 8-2.

Yousaf impresses on Cage Warriors debut

The event also saw the Cage Warriors debut of 2016 IMMAF world amateur champion Shoaib Yousaf, who claimed a first-round knockout victory over fellow debutant Michal Folc in their 150-pound catchweight contest.

Yousaf looked cool and composed as he found his range with a smart jab, despite Folc’s multi-punch flurries. Yousaf’s ice-cool approach eventually paid off as he forced his man back against the cage, scored with a head kick, then connected with a pair of huge knees from the clinch that sent his man down the canvas.

Yousaf even had the presence of mind not to throw an additional knee as his opponent became grounded. Instead, he followed up with a solid punch as the referee stepped in to wave off the bout at the 2:37 mark.

Chaaban chokes his way to victory

In the opening bout of the night, “The Lebanese Gorilla” Omran Chaaban scored an impressive first-round anaconda choke finish of Jack Dedames.

Chaaban looked to strike from range early, but after the bout went to the canvas, he managed to lock up a tight anaconda choke to force the tap in the final minute of the opening round.

Cage Warriors 137: Official Results

  • Matthew Bonner def. Joel Kouadja via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:44
  • Daan Duijs def. Bogdan Barbu via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:55
  • Adam Cullen def. Arnaud Kherfallah via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 1:21
  • Tanio Pagliariccio def. Benoit Blanc via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Shoaib Yousaf def. Michal Folc via knockout (knees) – Round 1, 2:37
  • Omran Chaaban def. Jack Dedames via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 4:07

Photo credit: Dolly Clew / Cage Warriors