At long last the wait is nearly over for the Cage Contender Fight Stars Tournament which will be held at the Olympia in Liverpool on Saturday 1st December. Cage Contender promoter John Ferguson and OMMAC promoter Chris Zobra have teamed up to deliver not only a night of top class mixed martial arts action but potentially the best UK mixed martial arts event of 2012.
Santa has come early with this show as this simply has to be without a doubt any UK MMA fans ultimate Christmas present, don’t believe me well let me just describe what the evening has planned. To get any MMA fans taste buds going there is a cracker of an undercard showcasing some of the up and coming UK talent which to be honest some promotions would be ecstatic to have as their main events! After this we move onto the lightweight £10.000 tournament which sees some of the division’s best fighters in Europe competing to be crowned champion at the end of the night. This tournament will test the fighter’s strength (both physical and mental), mixed martial arts skills, endurance and above all determination.
The first bout of the tournament sees Martin Stapleton (9-1-0) take on Jamie Rogers (6-4-0). Stapelton or Stapes as he is often known, is a veteran UFC Ultimate Fighter (US vs. UK, 2009) during which time he trained under Michael Bisping. Stapes then took a break from MMA between September 2009 and June 2012 during which time he concentrated on his career within the Marines. He made a return to the UK MMA scene in June 2012 resuming his place as a member of Team Kaobon, and taking on Shah Hussain at FCC 3 in June 2012. Stapes has moved from strength to strength maintaining a winning streak since his return beating Jason Cooledge at OMMAC 14. Martin Stapleton is currently ranked 13th in The Fight Lounge lightweight UK rankings but it is apparent that Stapes wants that number one spot. Winning this tournament will be ideal to help him spring up the UK Rankings and take one step closer to that UK number one spot and potentially a move to the UFC.
Jamie Rogers who fights out of Dogs of War was a last minute replacement for Andre Winner who had to drop out the the tournament due to injury. Rogers is currently ranked 34th in The Fight Lounge UK rankings and is also going into the bout on a two fight winning streak with his most recent win coming over David Round at Pain Pit 5. Rogers is very aware that he is going to be perceived as the underdog going into this fight against Martin Stapleton but that does not mean that he should be written off. This tournament is providing an excellent opportunity for Rogers to come up against some of Europe’s best lightweights and show the UK MMA scene his potential whilst aiding in repositioning himself within the UK rankings!
The second fight of the tournament is Mihail Kazuku (5-2-0) vs. Arnold Quero (3-1-0). Here we see the two Europeans in the competition go head to head for a place in the semi-final. The Moldovian, Kazuku, fighting out of Ready to Fight Ferrara has only two losses to his name, both of which were TKO stoppages against Hubert Geven and Leonardo Zecchi. In his last fight Kazuku defeated Nilson Lopes by TKO and will be wanting to continue this winning streak against Quero. The Frenchman Quero who fights out of Camp 10 has only one loss on his record which just so happens to be from his last fight against Nordin Arish. Quero hasn’t fought since this loss back in December 2011 and will be looking to return to winning ways against Kazuku.
The third bout is between Chris Stringer (11-9-1) and Tommy Maguire (12-4). Stringer who is originally from Northern Ireland moved over to Liverpool so he could concentrate on his MMA and become a member of Team Kaobon. He is currently ranked 33rd of The Fight Lounge’s UK rankings with 8 of his wins coming from submission. Stringer was defeated by Miguel Haro in his last fight back in October 2012 but he has an advantage going into this tournament.
Stringer has fought in a tournament before winning the ISKA European lightweight championship at the Clan Wars 8 back in August 2011. This means Stringer knows what is expected from him and the strain of a tournament.
Maguire, younger brother of UFC veteran John Maguire, fighting out of Tsunami gym is ranked 23rd of The Fight Lounge UK rankings. He has had four of his wins come from submission and six from TKO showing his versatility in finishing a fight. Currently Maguire has never been submitted and is currently running on a three-fight winning streak with his most recent win coming at BAMMA 10 in September against Antanas Jazbutis.
The final bout in the first stage of the tournament sees Uche Ihiekwe (5-2-1 NC) go head to head with Phil Flynn(7-7-1NC). To many MMA fans this may feel like déjà vu as these two meet back at OMMAC 15 when the fight was ruled a No Contest as Flynn was unintentionally collided into the fence post while Uche was administering knee strikes. The hometown lad in this tournament is none other than Team Kaobon’s Uche Ihiekwe who has three wins from submission and two from TKO. The only two losses on his record come from a submission loss to Artem Lobov and a defeat via TKO to Mike Wilkinson.
Manchester Predators Flynn is a well rounded fighter with four wins coming from TKO and 3 by submission. His losses have mainly come by submission (five) and only two via TKO. This bout is more than just the first stage of the tournament to these two fighters, this is a chance to set the record straight! Neither of these fighters are currently ranked in The Fight Lounges UK lightweight division but that could potentially change after the outcome of this tournament.
The undercard itself contains some tantalizing MMA action showcasing some top UK talent. These include a lightweight bout between Jamie Lee (1-0) and Danny Welsh (5-25), a bantamweight bouts between Paddy Pimblett (1-0) and Dougie Scott (0-1) and also Mike Wooten (4-0) vs. Alan Philpott (7-2), a welterweight bout between Dan Rushworth (2-0) and Russ Smith (6-2) and a featherweight bout between Saul Rogers (5-0) and Shay Walsh (7-2).
The undercard will also feature a tournament reserve bout between Alexei Robert (5-2-0) and Stu Davies (8-19-0) and a high level amateur middleweight contest between Team Kaobon’s unbeaten middleweight Lee Williams (4-0-0) who will defend his AFC crown against Sukata MMA’s Dez Parker (8-1-1).
Tournament Semi-Final 1 (Winner of Stringer and Maguire vs. Winner of Ihiekwe and Flynn)
Tournament Semi-Final 2 (Winner of Stapleton and Rogers vs. Winner of Kazuku and Quero)
Uche Ihiekwe vs. Phil Flynn
Chris Stringer vs. Tommy Maguire
Mihail Kazuku vs. Arnold Quero
Martin Stapleton vs. Jamie Rogers
Lee Williams v Dez Parker (AFC Middleweight Title)
Jamie Lee vs. Danny Welsh
Paddy Pimblett vs. Dougie Scott
Mike Wooten vs. Alan Philpott
Dan Rushworth vs. Russ Smith
Saul Rogers vs. Shay Walsh
Alexei Roberts vs. Stu Davies (Tournament Reserve Bout)
Cage Contender Fight Stars takes place this Saturday, 1st December at the Olympia in Liverpool.
Tickets are still available from 0151 263 6633 and www.liverpoololympia.com
Written by: Robert Riley