Verona’s Dumitru Girlean bounced back into the win column with an eye-catching submission finish in the main event of Cage Warriors 162 in Rome, Italy.
The 13-fight card featured Italian athletes in every fight as the promotion showcased its growing roster of Italian talent, and the main event saw two compatriots go face to face in a rematch as Girlean faced old rival Simone Patrizi at Fiera Roma.
That first meeting saw Girlean knock out Patrizi with a head kick in just 47 seconds for Italian promotion The Golden Cage back in 2021, and Patrizi was determined to get some degree of payback on his nemesis.
But in the rematch it was Girlean who claimed the finish once again, as he locked up a rear-naked choke mid-way through the third round to finish “The White Shark” for the second time in his career.
That finish joined Girlean’s stunning one-shot KO of rising English lightweight contender Adam Cullen, and saw him return to winning ways after a first-round submission to Ireland’s Leon Hill in his last outing at Cage Warriors 158.
D’Anna battles past Dias for hometown win
In the co-main event, Italian featherweight Simone D’Anna enjoyed a debut to remember as he claimed a unanimous decision victory in his home city.
D’Anna outbattled Brazil’s Alberth Dias over three hard-fought rounds to claim scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 and pick up the 10th win of his career.
It meant that he improved his win streak to three, and got his Cage Warriors career off to a winning start.
Leblond starches Lupoli with colossal uppercut
French flyweight Nicolas Leblond scored one of Cage Warriors’ best knockouts of 2023 with a stunning second-round finish of Italy’s Michaelangelo Lupoli.
Leblond’s pressure fighting proved to be too much for Lupoli, who found himself unable to stand with the Frenchman on equal terms, and struggled to implement his ground game. Mid-way through the second round, Leblond turned up the heat and, after stuffing a Lupoli takedown attempt, sent his man into a crumpled heap against the cage with a huge finish. A straight left sent Lupoli down the mat but, as the Italian looked to swiftly return to his feet, he was met with a huge right uppercut from the Leblond that knocked him out cold.
It was a show-stealing finish that showed the rest of the flyweight division that Leblond has the sort of rare flyweight punch power that can end a bout in an instant.
Aliu outpoints Carlos
Italian middleweight Leon Aliu conceded height and reach to Brazilian-Swedish veteran Alan Carlos, but mixed up his martial arts to fend off the experienced submission specialist and claim an important unanimous decision victory.
Aliu, who had picked up an attention-grabbing first-round finish of former middleweight champion James Webb on his Cage Warriors debut back in May 2022, lost out in the Contender Series, then fell to a second defeat as he was outpointed by Darren Stewart in May 2023.
But a composed display against the 25-fight veteran saw Aliu pick up his 11th career victory as he improved his record to 11-3 and got him back in the middleweight win column.
Low blow forces no contest
There was an unfortunate finish to the night’s opening main card bout, as the matchup between Luca Iovine and Andrey Tyshchenko was ruled a no contest after Iovine was rendered unable to continue after a knee to the groin from Tyshchenko.
The strike, which was one of three low blows from the Ukrainian during the bout, left Iovine in clear agony on the canvas, resulting in the bout being waved off.
Preliminary card recap
A loaded preliminary card saw all eight bouts produce finishes, with none of the undercard matchups reaching the third round.
The featured prelim saw former flyweight champion Sam Creasey continue his return to form after losing the title to Shaj Haque last December with a second-round rear-naked choke submission of Tanio Pagliariccio.
The same submission technique also proved successful for Macedonia’s Samir Sadikov, who needed just 82 seconds to defeat Daniel Ghercioiu in a battle of featherweights making their professional debuts.
There were also popular victories on home soil for Italian prospects Giuseppe Mastrogiacomo, Emanuele Tetti, Khadim Dia, Daniele Battaglia, and Matteo Martignoni.
Cage Warriors 162: Official results
- Dumitru Girlean def. Simone Patrizi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 2:35
- Simone D’Anna def. Alberth Dias via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Nicolas Leblond def. Michaelangelo Lupoli via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 3:58
- Leon Aliu def. Alan Carlos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-27)
- Luca Iovine vs. Andrey Tyshchenko ruled a no contest (accidental low blow) – Round 2, 1:48
- Sam Creasey def. Tanio Pagliariccio via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:43
- Samir Sadikov def. Daniel Ghercioiu via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:22
- Giuseppe Mastrogiacomo def. Valentino Riva via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 1:48
- Emanuele Tetti def. Alessio Barbara via TKO (spinning backfist and ground strikes) – Round 1, 2:08
- Baris Adiguzel def. Alex Bertinazzi via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:16
- Khadim Dia def. Bartolomeo Esposto via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:34
- Daniele Battaglia def. Costantin Dolghi via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:58
- Matteo Martignoni def. Alessandro Lupieri via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:39