Murderers’ Row: A Focus on Cage Warriors Lightweight Division

By Fig O’Farrell

Graham Boylan, Ian Dean and Paul Dollery spent this week doing their best impressions of Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day. Europe’s premiere organisation secured the signings of two UFC veteran and top 10 ranked UK Lightweights this week. John Maguire and Curt Warburton are both expected to debut in December. On top of the signings they also penned a fight for the lightweight strap between Steven Ray and Ivan Buchinger. I take a look at the major players in what is arguably Europe’s most stacked division.

Best place to start is with the Cage Warriors World Champion Steven Ray. The Dinky Ninja earned the title after defeating both Jason Ball and Sean Carter in one evening. Ray is incredibly well rounded and showed his improved grappling game as he fended off Ball and landed the more significant strikes en route to a decision win in which his wrestling was the deciding factor. Ray then faced undefeated BKK prospect Sean Carter. In only is 8th professional fight Carter was an underdog heading into the contest filling in for an injured Ivan Buschinger. Ray’s experience shone through as he sunk in a Rear Naked choke on Carter after implementing the body triangle perfectly. Ray’s win proved him to be the best on the night and he deservedly took home the strap. Ray will have to continue to turn in classy performances, such as the one presented at Cage Warriors 60 as the target is well and truly on his head. However at only 23 and having spent time in Tristar training earlier in the year Ray will be confident he has the ability to remain champion for a long time.

365 days after his KO loss to Conor McGregor, Ivan Buchinger will again challenge for the Cage Warriors 155lbs strap in the same arena. Spurred on by the defeat that night Buchinger has definitely earned another crack at the title. A tough fought victory over Jason Ball followed by a mauling of Jamal Magamedov in Chechnya earned Buchinger a place in the 4 man tournament at Cage Warriors 60. Standing in his way of the final was Burnley’s Mick Sinclair. This was a cracking contest in which the hunger of both men shone through. Buchinger caught Sinclair in a magnificent scarf armlock submission unlike anything I had ever seen before. However Buchinger was ruled out of the final due to a rib injury, he will finally get to tussle with Ray for the strap in Dublin.

The first signee this week is Curt Warburton. Curt who is currently ranked number 4 in the the UK and Irish Lightweight rankings is definitely a marquee signing for Cage Warriros. The former Wolfslair man has gone 5-1 since his release from the UFC and during that run he became BAMMA British Lightweight champion beating none other than Steven Ray. Curt will view himself as the uncrowned king of the Lightweight of the Cage Warriors 155 division and will no doubt be chomping at the bit to rematch with the Scott. Curt is expected to debut at Cage Warriors 62 in Newcastle. With no opponent set as of now the Northerner will be looking to get a big win to put him in title contention.

Also making their Cage Warriors debut in December is John ‘The One’ Maguire. The self proclaimed lazy Welterweight and former Middleweight dropped to Lightweight this summer where he lost a razor close decision to Mitch Clarke at UFC 161. Maguire carries into the division a big name having signed for the UFC as one of the best Welterweights in Europe he turns to the European circuit having had moderate success and great experience in the UFC. He is never short for words and no doubt he will be looking to impose his own Gypsy Ji-Jitu on his fellow 155ers. He debuts at Cage Warriors 63 in Dublin and has already had Honey Badger Philip Mulpeter banging on his door to request a welcoming bout.

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Not to be forgotten in this mix is Ireland’s own Paul Redmond. The Team Ryano man currently holds the longest winning streak in the division. Redmond has blazed his way through some of the divisions finest going 5-0 in the space of 12 months finishing very fight in the second round. Redmond was originally scheduled to clash with Mateusz Teodorczuk in Jordan last week however unfortunately had to withdraw with an ankle injury. The Dubliner is set to travel to train in Alliance gym in San Diego in the New Year ; well rounded Redmond will pose a scary prospect to any Cage Warriors Lightweight on his return.

The five fighters mentioned are merely scratching the surface of Europe’s elite organisation. Looking to rebound off their tournament defeats and get themselves back in the picture will be Jason Ball, Mick Sinclair and Sean Carter. Add into the mix Irish men Ryan Roddy and Philip Mulpeter. Combine those with Liverpoolian super grappler Mark Glover, prospect Saul Rogers and Jason Cooledge. If one thing is certain it is that Ian Dean is sure to have his hands full over the next 12 months.

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