MMA-Prospects 2020 Awards: Cage Warriors

A promotional graphic highlighting a Trilogy event. Credit: Cage Warriors.

There are many negatives one could discuss in regards to 2020, a year dominated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the sport of MMA was able to rebound in a big way.

Before the mass lockdowns, Cage Warriors had just two events in March. With the next 6 events being canceled, the future didn’t look bright for U.K. MMA.

But Cage Warriors had something else up its sleeve, and late in the year, fans say two iterations of so-called Trilogy events โ€” a blockbuster weekend of three events across three nights that has proved to be a resounding success for the European promotion.

Thankfully, the additional six events gave MMA-Prospects more than enough to sink our teeth into, so without further ado, here are the inaugural winners of the MMA-Prospects yearly Cage Warriors awards.

Cage Warriors Knockout of the Year

Winner – Nathias Frederick (def. Jamie Richardson), Cage Warriors 118

There was so much competition in this category, producing some of the most varied picks from all who contributed. There were head kick stoppages by newly-crowned champion Jake Hadley (7-0), Paul Hughes (6-1) and star prospect Ian Garry (5-0), a spinning heel kick by Cristian Leroy Duncan (2-0) and the incredible comeback win for Connor Hignett (8-6) at CW 113.

The knockout win for Nathias Frederick (9-2-1) stood out for most though.

Jamie Richardson (9-6) was utilizing a beautiful boxing game, perhaps leaning toward winning the title from Frederick, but a brutal left hook from Frederick early in round three sent the challenger face-first into the canvas.

At 37 years old, it’s now or never for Frederick to make a move to the big stage. But with knockouts like this, it’d be a no brainer for a major international promotion to strike while the iron’s hot and sign Nathias Frederick on the strength of his MMA-Prospects’ Cage Warriors KO of the Year.

Cage Warriors Submission of the Year

WINNER – Adam Wilson (def. Scott Malone), Cage Warriors 112

There were two clear top contenders for this award, the other being Aaron Khalid’s (10-6-1) with an amazing 28-second anaconda choke at Cage Warriors 114.

One could argue either one should be the Cage Warriors Submission of the Year, so MMA-Prospects extends the most honorable of mentions to Khalid, but ultimately, it was Adam Wilson (5-1), whose beautiful back-take off of the kick leading to the standing rear-naked choke, that left the biggest impression.

Wilson unfortunately came up short in his next outing at CW 115, but with the ability to finish fights like this, he’ll be sure to make a few more headlines throughout his promising career.

Cage Warriors Fight of the Year

Winner – Perry Andre Goodwin def. Steve Aimable, Cage Warriors 113

The main competition for this award was the masterclass between the aforementioned Paul Hughes and Jordan Vucenic (7-1) at CW 119, and a lot of internal debate took place as to which stellar match would take MMA-Prospects’ top prize.

Sometimes, there’s a level of brutality in the sport of MMA that just captivates the fans, and that’s exactly what happened when title challenger Perry Andre Goodwin (10-7) and Steve Aimable (15-9) tore the house down in March.

Aimable was able to rock his opponent on multiple occasions, but Goodwin would just not stay down, calling on the fight until the very end. Although Aimable will understandably be disappointed in the losing result โ€” as many called the fight the other way โ€” ultimately, he can be proud of his performance in an absolute war that showed off the heart and determination to win from men.

Fans won’t see too many fights better than this.

Cage Warriors Prospect of the Year

Winner – Ian Garry

Cage Warriors is a standout prospect factory, with many of its products going on to sign with major promotions like the UFC and Bellator. The promotion is known as one of the top developmental organizations in Europe, so earning the moniker of MMA-Prospects’ Cage Warriors Prospect of the Year is a notable distinction.

It’s expected that names like Mike Figlak (4-0), Cristian Leroy Duncan, Nathan Fletcher (4-0) and more will be sweeping across everyone’s radar in 2021, but this year’s award has to be handed to Ireland’s Ian Garry, who is arguably one of MMA’s top prospects in 2020, let alone in just Cage Warriors.

Garry would have impressive performances this year against George McManus (2-2) and Lawrence Tracey (5-5), stopping both opponents with relative ease.

As the undefeated Irishman’s star has grown in MMA circles, he has made it known that he’s coming for Cage Warriors gold in the future.

It would be hard to see a reality where that doesn’t come to fruition. Look for Garry to sign with a major promotion and make waves in the coming years.

Cage Warriors New Signing of the Year

Winner – Jake Hadley

Jake Hadley is one of the top prospects in the world, which is especially significant given the newly-crowned Cage Warriors champion’s weight class. As a world-class flyweight prospect, Hadley is an enticing commodity for any major promotion looking to bolster the in vogue division.

Hadley joined Cage Warriors in 2020 with a lot of hype behind him following his EFC (South Africa) flyweight title win and 2019 stoppage of Blaine O’Driscoll (9-3) in Bellator.

It’s rumored that Hadley was supposed to fight for the CW flyweight title in his Cage Warriors debut, but he was replaced by Luke Shanks (7-2).

When fortunes changed and Hadley was able to compete, he stole the show as co-main event to Shanks and challenger Samir Faiddine (12-7). The stage was set for a grudge match, and at CW 117, Hadley bested Shanks and added the Cage Warriors title to his mantle.

To do this in your first year in the promotion is highly impressive, and Hadley has wasted no time in making his UFC ambitions known as a result of his stellar 2020 campaign.

Cage Warriors Fighter of the Year

Winner – Mason Jones

After the 2020 Mason Jones (10-0) had, choosing any other fighter as the MMA-Prospects’ Cage Warriors Fighter of the Year would have been heresy.

He kicked off the year with a stoppage victory over promotional veteran Joe McColgan (7-3-1), winning the lightweight championship in the process. After Nicolas Dalby (19-3-1) returned to UFC, and Ross Houston (8-1) departed for Bellator, the organization’s welterweight title remained vacant, and top contender Adam Proctor (12-2) was eyeing a shot.

Not content with having just one gold belt over his shoulder, Jones would move up to challenge for the 170-pound strap. Despite being at a considerable height disadvantage, Jones finished the fight before the end of the first round, becoming just the third double-champ in Cage Warriors history. The others? Dan Hardy and Conor McGregor.

With a belt over each shoulder, it was inevitable that UFC would come knocking, and it’s expected that the Welshman will debut for the biggest promotion in the sport in early 2021 against Mike Davis.