The Matchmaker’s View | CWFC 76
September 2014 was the last time Cage Warriors made the journey over the Severn Bridge to stage an event that showcased the cream of Welsh MMA. During that Saturday night on 13th September, Finnish fighter Toni Tauro was crowned the CWFC Bantamweight champion in a four-round tussle against Englishman Cory Tait. However, the night belonged to Wales’ own Jack Marshman who registered a signature victory over UFC veteran Che Mills stopping the Englishman in the second round.
Since then, the biggest promotion in the world, the UFC, has provided a stage for MMA athletes from England, N.Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland to unleash their talents, but so far it’s an opportunity that has eluded the Welsh. This Saturday, for the first time, the likes of Marshman, Long, Kris Edwards and young Jack Shore will perform in front of a global audience on UFC FIGHTPASS. Will the tide start to turn on their bigger ambitions?
Although there are no titles on the line, a handful of reputations and ambitions are.
We sat down with Cage Warriors Matchmaker Ian Dean to find out the three fights that he’s most excited to see on the Cage Warriors 76 card.
Andreas Stahl (9-2) vs. Lew Long (12-3)
There is quite a lot on the line for this fight as both fighters are on a crossroads in their career. Long has worked very hard to get where he is and is on the cusp of something big. While Ståhl returns to the European scene after a 0-2 stint in the UFC he has a big target on his back as his opponents view him as a stepping-stone to the top and at the same time he is also trying to re-establish himself. A loss would set them both back a long way
Lew long is on a five-fight win streak and has been steadily moving up since he returned to welterweight in 2014. He's beaten some solid domestic opposition including Steven Dinsdale, Matt Inman, Tommy Quinn, Lee Caers and Yoshiyuki Katahira last time out in Abu Dhabi. He is rightfully knocking on the door for bigger tests and even a title shot, and this is the kind of fight that could deliver that.
Along with Marshman (and former CWFC Champ Brett Johns) he is one of the biggest names in Welsh MMA and a win here in front of his countrymen against a UFC veteran could catapult him to the next level or even a future CWFC title opportunity.
But it's also a huge fight for Andreas Ståhl as it's his first fight back since being released by the UFC. If he has any ambition of getting re-signed he can't afford to lose and the big question is will the pressure be a factor? In 2013-14 we witnessed UFC veterans struggle in CWFC competition with both John Maguire and Che Mills picking up losses on their return to the European scene.
However Ståhl was dogged by injuries during his UFC campaign and had two difficult fights firstly against Gilbert Burns (who was 7-0 at the time and has impressed at times during his UFC career) in which he broke Ståhl’s nose and jaw in the first round. Then in December last year he faced a red hot Santiago Ponzinibbio (who is 4-2 in the UFC).
People forget that Ståhl is still only 28 and had 9-0 record before signing with the UFC with a dominant performance against “Abus” Magomedov (rear-naked choke) and CWFC vets Damir Hadzovic and Domingos Mestre. He's strong, powerful, has good ground and pound and will be the biggest test of Long's career.
Daniel Requeijo (7-2) vs. Nad Narimani (8-2)
Narimani has been inactive since losing in his CWFC Title challenge against Alex Enlund in November 2014. So it's great to have him back on Cage Warriors as I think he is one of the best featherweights in the country.
He's a strong all rounder who can hurt you standing but can out grapple you on the mat (he has 2 submission wins in the CWFC) and both of his losses were decisions - close encounters against top tier domestic fighters.
In contrast, during the time that Narimani has been relatively inactive, Requeijo has been busy clocking up 6 straight wins (5 of them inside the distance), with a win over the CWFC veteran Gaetano Pirello. He has not fought at the same level as Narimani but he looks like an aggressive fighter and I think it will be an interesting bout especially as the Spaniard has nothing to lose going into it. He has the opportunity to really make a name for himself fighting live on UFC FIGHTPASS, while a win for Narimani could see him lined-up for a bigger fight down the line.
Main Event: Middleweight
Ali Arish (21-4) vs. Jack Marshman (18-5)
Both guys are incredibly experienced and have faced top competition throughout their careers. Marshman will have the huge home support but Arish has the ability (despite his age) to be a real spoiler and negate Marshman's striking with his wrestling game. And it will be interesting to see how Marshman will react to it
This is your classic clash of styles, which is something I like to see but at the same time Arish has some big KO wins on his record and Marshman's all round game has improved greatly over the past few years.
Marshman looked impressive in his last two CWFC appearances in 2014 against Bola Omoyele and Che Mills but has struggled to find fights on the UK circuit since then and although he has added two more wins during that time, a loss here will set him back a long way, where as a win could see him in line for a shot at the recently vacated CWFC Title and maybe further down the line we could see become the first Welshman in the UFC.