European Evaluations – Cage Warriors’ crown jewel (September 22nd to 27th)

Ian Garry (left) clubs a knee into the body of his opponent. Credit: Cage Warriors.

MMA finally seemed back on its feet over the course of these past several days, as events from all over Europe seemed to come back to life. Despite the hustle and bustle, there was a surprising lack of quality throughout. Cage Warriors featured some amazing performances, which is why this list will lean so heavily towards that, and throughout Russia and some European action out in the United Arab Emirates, the only impressive performances came against opponents of a lower caliber, so it didn’t feel right to include them.

So, without further ado, here’s the European Evaluation: Cage Warriors addition.

Jake Hadley (def. Shajidul Haque) – Cage Warriors 114

Rumour has it Jake Hadley was supposed to fight for the flyweight championship in the main event of this card, but delays in the arrangement led to him having to settle for co-main. While Luke Shanks went on to absolutely dominate across 5 rounds in the main event championship fight, it was Hadley’s main event performance that stood out to most fans.

Extending his undefeated streak to 6-0, Jake made his Cage Warriors debut against Shajidul Haque (10-5). Following a championship-winning debut in South Africa’s EFC Worldwide promotion and a lone appearance in Bellator, Hadley came into this one with a lot of hype behind him. An extremely calm Hadley stood, almost bored-looking, as his name was read out by the evening’s emcee. The nine amateur fights that “White Kong” competed in have clearly seasoned him beyond his professional experience.

Haque would come out aggressive with a leg-kick heavy game, but it was Hadley with all the forward pressure as he relentlessly walked his man down. As Haque got on his bicycle, he did a good job skidding away from the cage each time which forced Hadley to reach a little bit on his strikes. The southpaw straight presented flashes of danger but it was a half-blocked had kick which wobbled Haque.

Giving him no time to recover, Hadley threw him to the ground and finished the fight with ground and pound, likely securing himself a showdown with Luke Shanks in his next time out.

Ian Garry (def. George McManus) – Cage Warriors 115

The performance of the week is owned by arguably the biggest prospect to come out of Ireland in years. All eyes were fixed on Ian Garry (4-0) as he took on England’s George McManus (2-2). Garry has spent his entire MMA career competing for Cage Warriors or one of its academies, and he has shown improvements to his game every time he steps out under the bright lights.

The crown jewel of Team KF, Ireland’s hottest new fight team, Garry had a lot of expectations to live up to in this contest and it was always going to be difficult to meet them. McManus would wisely look to tie the fight up early, gripping Garry against the fence in the hopes of wearing him out. Not looking to show any weaknesses, Garry would reverse the position into a takedown and hold the top position for the rest of the opening round.

Fans of Ian Garry watched on with their hearts in their mouth as he slipped razor-close shots using nothing but head movement. While he’s comfortable moving back, most of Ian’s strengths come when on the front foot as he pops out strong jabs, unexpected kicks, and sharp combos. 

McManus would eventually be forced to sit on the cage, but showed some outstanding toughness as he surviving the onslaught. The key technique of Garry was a lead left head kick which he threw out mid-combo. While McManus withstood the sickening thud the first time, moments later it would land again prompting a good stoppage from the official.

Nicknamed “The Future,” Ian Garry would get a lot of attention following the win, and you have to think Cage Warriors might be considering offering a step up in competition in his next outing.

Mason Jones (def. Adam Proctor) – Cage Warriors 116

The main event of an incredible week of Cage Warriors events put a stamp on the first incarnation of the trilogy series that few expected. Mason Jones (10-0), the Cage Warriors lightweight champion, won the 155 pounds belt with an impressive first-round stoppage of Joe McColgan in his last time out. With welterweight champion Ross Houston and interim welterweight champion and Nicolas Dalby migrating to Bellator and UFC respectively, an opportunity presented itself for two men to compete for the welterweight belt. For Adam Proctor (12-2), it was a no brainer. A seven-fight win streak with three straight in Cage Warriors made him the clear number one contender, but no one expected newly crowned Mason Jones to also step up.

As soon as the fight kicked off, it was clear to see Wales’ Jones was undersized. With a stocky frame that puts him at a height disadvantage even at Lightweight, Adam towered above and looked to utilize the size difference with long-range kicks and strikes. Jones accepted that he’d need to take shots to give shots, so every time Proctor flinched a shot his way Jones would leap in to counter.

The relentless pace looked like it might wear on The Dragon, but Lightweight Champion Mason managed to drop his opponent before the end of the second minute. Adam recovered well, briefly taking the fight to the mat. Another good minute was banked by Proctor but yet another big shot put him on his back. Jones would pin him to the cage, capitalizing with ground and pound until Marc Goddard stopped the contest.

Mason Jones now holds two championship belts in Cage Warriors, has that ever happened with anyone else before? Strangely no one comes to mind. Jones would also apologize to nobody after the fight.

Although fighters across Europe struggled to make headlines this week, Cage Warriors’ first movement into the action since the pandemic proved to be the saving grace. Even with massive cancellations, you could have added Luke Shanks flyweight championship win, Jack Grant’s mounted guillotine, Jack Cartwright’s bantamweight title defense, Michal Figlak’s domination of heated rival Oban Elliot. Cage Warriors didn’t just nail it with one event this week, but with three; back to back to back.

Next week features even more bangers from BRAVE, good action from Poland, and some European names littered throughout events on American soil. Stay tuned as we’ll once again trawl through all the prospects and point out the points who impressed most.