Rhys McKee unified the Cage Warriors 170-pound titles in Dublin after stopping interim champion Jimmy Wallhead on his stool at the end of the fourth round at the 3Arena.

The battle between reigning champion McKee and interim champ Wallhead was one of the most eagerly-anticipated bouts on the European scene this year, and the pair delivered a superb spectacle in front of a passionate Irish crowd as McKee reignited his hopes of fighting on the world stage, while UK MMA legend Wallhead confirmed his retirement from the sport.

The finish came at the end of the fourth round, when Wallhead retired in his corner to hand McKee a TKO victory. Wallhead had started well, but McKee worked his way into the bout and was well on top by the time they headed to their corners at the end of Round 4. A cut and bloodied Wallhead spoke with his corner and the cutman called referee Marc Goddard over to the corner. After a quick conversation, Goddard signaled the end of the fight, with McKee taking the TKO win and claiming the unified welterweight title in the process.

Chatting to Dan Hardy after his win, McKee paid tribute to his opponent as he encouraged the crowd to show their appreciation for Wallhead’s 18-year career.

“I’ll tell you exactly what it’s like (to fight Wallhead),” he said.

“I was scared of this man. Anybody in my team knows how hard I train. Jimmy was the test in my career that I needed. What a career this man has had, so if there’s anybody here sitting down, stand up and let’s make a hell of a noise for Jimmy Wallhead. What a legend!

“Jimmy Wallhead forged the way in this sport in the UK. And to stand across and compete against him and be scared of him… What a f*****g legend Jimmy Wallhead is. Why are we even talking about me when we can talk about the career this man has had. What a guy.”

Then talk turned to what McKee planned to do next, as the Irishman grabbed a UFC-branded slider from one of his coaches to illustrate where he wants to fight next.

“This is where I want to go next. UFC, baby!” he grinned.

“I have history with the UFC.  I’ve done it on short notice. But now I’m ready, I’m improved, I’m the best version of me.

“I’ve beat a legend here. I’ve had two solid wins against guys nobody wanted to fight. UFC, let’s go!”

Hardy then chatted to old friend Wallhead in a bittersweet moment, as an emotional Wallhead laid down his gloves in the center of the cage to signify his retirement from the sport.

“It’s time,” he told Hardy.

“It’s time to get home to the wife and kids.”

Harila comes back from near-submission to claim comeback TKO

Swedish featherweight Tobias Harila produced a brilliant comeback performance to finish fellow featherweight contender Ryan Shelley and put himself firmly in contention at the sharp end of the Cage Warriors featherweight division.

Harila needed to use all of his survival instincts to stay in the fight in Round 2, then turned to his striking to close the show in Round 3 to claim a huge victory in the talent-stacked 145-pound class.

After a well-contested opening round, things didn’t look good for Harila mid-way through the second round when Shelley took his back and locked up a rear-naked choke. But, when Shelley adjusted his grip to further tighten the choke, he offered a split-second opening for Harila to tuck his chin away from the choke. It was a move that almost certainly saved the fight for Harila, who looked on the verge of defeat.

After surviving the second round, Harila needed something big in the third, and he loaded up on his shots to finish Shelley with a beautiful combination that started with a short right hand, then finished with a big knee that forced Shelley down to the canvas. A few additional shots were all that were needed to secure the victory, as Harila handed Shelley the first defeat of his professional career, and elevated himself toward the division’s top names.


Charriere turns the tables to score comeback win

Former featherweight champion Morgan Charriere showed his composure under pressure, then demonstrated his vicious striking to claim a first-round TKO finish of Brazil’s Pedro Souza.

After coming in as a short-notice replacement for Pedro Colman, Souza opted to go all-out for the win in the first round, and managed to get Charriere to the mat, before embarking on a sustained submission attack as he attempted to lock up a choke on the grounded Frenchman.

But, despite finding himself in trouble early in the round, Charriere remained calm and defended himself well as he fended off the Brazilian’s submission threat throughout the round.

Eventually, Charriere managed to escape and reverse position on Souza with just over a minute left in the round. With his hands free for virtually the first time in the fight, “The Last Pirate” let them fly as he hammered Souza with punches and elbows that left the Brazilian cut, bloodied and bruised as he only just made it to the end of the round.

However, the action would end there, as the cageside doctor ruled that Souza was in no position to continue and the fight was waved off between rounds to give Charriere a superb first-round TKO victory.

Elliott moves one step closer to title contention

Welsh welterweight Oban Elliott continued his charge towards a Cage Warriors title shot with a hard-earned unanimous decision victory over fellow in-form contender James Sheehan.

“Jimbo Slice” came into the matchup riding a five-fight win streak, but Elliott had the edge over the three-round duration as he outstruck and outworked Sheehan to earn the nod from each of the three cageside judges.

“The Welsh Gangster” picked up scores of 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 to improve his record to 8-2 and register his fifth win from his last six bouts.

McAleenan turns the tables with dramatic armbar finish

Ireland’s Decky McAleenan was on the receiving end of things against Wasi Adeshina, but a brilliant armbar saw him turn the tables in stunning fashion to claim the submission win.

Adeshina pushed the pace early as McAleenan was forced on the back foot. But, with Adeshina in his guard during the latter stages of the opening round, McAleenan saw an opening, and exploited it.

With just seconds left in the round, McAleenan isolated an arm and locked up an armbar to force the tap and claim a superb submission victory as the 3Arena roared its approval.

Cage Warriors 153: Official results


  • Rhys McKee vs. Jimmy Wallhead – for unified welterweight title
  • Tobias Harila def. Ryan Shelley TKO (punches and knee) – Round 3, 1:40
  • Morgan Charriere def. Pedro Souza via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1, 5:00
  • Oban Elliott def. James Sheehan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Decky McAleenan def. Wasi Adeshina via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:54


  • Benoit Blanc def. Taka Mhandu via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1, 4:05
  • Paddy McCorry def. Angus Hewett via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:59
  • Adam Darby def. Jack Tucker via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:15
  • Leon Hill def. Marcin Zembala via TKO (elbows) – Round 2, 4:08
  • Solomon Simon def. Dorian Cliucinicov via TKO (ground strikes) – Round – Round 2, 4:46
  • Adam Shelley def. Muhammad Kir Ahmet via TKO (punches and spinning back kick) – Round 2, 1:37
  • Nicolas Leblond def. Ryan Curtis via submission (bulldog choke) – Round 1, 2:05
  • Alexander O’Sullivan def. Afrim Thaqi via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:18
  • Kyle McClurkin def. Owain Williams via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)