Three British prospects are set for the biggest bouts of their respective careers as they prepare for action at Cage Warriors 155 in San Diego.
The event takes place Friday night at the Sycuan Casino Hotel and streams live on UFC Fight Pass, but despite the California location, the bout represents something of a home game for the collective, who have been living and training together in San Diego ahead of fight night.
Lightweight Teddy Stringer and flyweights Connor Wilson and Fran Breen earned spots on the MMA Fight Academy, a new team put together by Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan and sports streaming platform Mola TV to develop the best up-and-coming young talent and guide them through their professional careers as they look to make their mark on the sport.
The trio all earned spots via global tryouts that saw him join a team of 20 fighters predominantly from the UK, Indonesia, and Italy as they worked together to get ready for bouts on significant fight cards across the globe.
Results so far have been mixed. The Italian contingent fared well, with three of the four Italian fighters picking up wins at Cage Warriors 154 in Rome. But the Indonesian prospects on the team have found life tough, with one fighter from the group, featherweight Cornellius Aritonang, claiming victory in Rome, while his teammates all lost out on the recent Road to UFC event in Shanghai.
Now the spotlight turns to the remaining fighters in the team at Cage Warriors 155, with the English trio set to lead the way.
The team’s final Indonesian prospect Jon Saragih will represent the team in the opening bout of the night, before Breen makes his professional debut against fellow debutant Enrique Montalvo. Ahead of the bout, the Next Generation prospect told Fighters Only what a dream debut would look like for him in California.
“I think a TKO, because I like letting my hands go,” he said.
“I like striking and being in control of my striking. If I’m not in control of the striking, I’ve got enough jiu-jitsu to take it to the floor and control it.
“I’m good enough all-round. I’m an all-round MMA fighter now. I’m not just a striker. But, in my ideal world, I’d love a TKO.”
While Breen is likely to lean on his striking, his teammate Stringer is far more likely to take the action to the mat.
“I’m a grappler through and through,” he told Fighters Only ahead of his bout with American Bryant Shell.
“And, although I’m starting to evolve my game more – I enjoy striking, I’m enjoying the new facets – I will take you down and I will sniff your crotch for three rounds! That is the boring style, but I find rear-naked chokes a lot, I like to grind someone out and find the submission. That’s my style.
“So I’m hoping I can be the guy who makes grappling a little bit more exciting. Everyone loves a knockout artist. But I’ve got smooth submissions – I’ve got a kneebar at amateur, which is quite unique – so I want to be the most exciting grappler.”
Also ready to make a statement is Wilson, who stood out as a real talent when Fighters Only visited the MMA Fight Academy earlier this year. The Liverpudlian flyweight was a ball of energy during the sparring sessions, and looked very much ready for the fray.
The 4-2 professional has his sights set on the top of the Cage Warriors flyweight division, and promised Fighters Only he’d bring his all-action style to the cage when he competes against David Lopez on the main card in San Diego this weekend.
“You can expect to see world-class movement, feints, speed, power. I’ve got it all, honestly,” he told me.
“I’m not just saying that because it’s one of those things it’s good to say that, ‘Yeah, I’m this, I’m that.’ Ask any single person in this room what they think of me and my abilities and they’ll tell you the truth. I know what I can do. I just need to do that on the big stage, on the big platform.
“I’ve never had the coverage. Growing up as an amateur, I’ve never had a big platform or had the big media outlets behind me and stuff the way some other people have. Same with my professional career. But soon enough everyone’s going to know who I am.
“When they see it, and they see first-hand what I can do. Even ask people who’ve beaten me what I’m capable of. People who’ve been in there and fought me and they’ve felt how I move. Trust me, there’s something special coming from me. I know that for a fact.
“Two years from now, if I get managed right, and get the right fights, I’ll be knocking on the door for a Cage Warriors world title and I’ll be close to the UFC. I’m 25 now, so I’ll be 27 by then. But I’m ready now. I’m ready to smash anybody, trust me.”
Cage Warriors 155: Fight card
- James Lynch vs. Kyle Driscoll
- Robert Hernandez vs. Moses Diaz
- Damon Wilson vs. John De Jesus
- Connor Wilson vs. David Lopez
- Jovidon Khojaev vs. Sunni Imhotep
- Frans Lincol Sormin vs. James Settle
- Elijah Harris vs. Chris Lewis
- Anthony Orozco vs. Jeremy Fattorusso
- Teddy Stringer vs. Bryant Shell
- Fran Breen vs. Enrique Montalvo
- Jon Saragih vs. Johnny Gill Jr.
Photos: MMA Fight Academy/Mola TV