MMA Memories: Cage Warriors 90

MMA Memories: Cage Warriors 90

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Cage Warriors 90 at the then Echo Arena in Liverpool will always hold a special memory for me. It took place on the 24th February 2018 and it was my first ever media event I covered live from cageside for FightPost.

On a freezing winter’s night in the fighting city, two of the city’s finest opened and closed the main card in some style.

Paddy Pimblett was looking to rebound from losing his Cage Warriors featherweight title to Nad Narimani in his last fight.and had moved up to lightweight for his fight with Alexis Savvidis.

The Greek grappling machine gave Pimblett a real workout in the opening round. Pimblett said post-fight he was surprised his opponent was on that level, and they gave us a back and forth masterpiece for 5 minutes.

Both traded submission attempts in a wild opening round that could have ended at anytime, to either fighter.

As they came out for the 2nd round, Pimblett’s loyal and extremely vocal fans must have been concerned that their man was about to be handed his second defeat on the bounce.

But Pimblett had his own way of ending his night. Before we had been allowed to get our breath back from the 1st round, the fight was suddenly over.

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At just 0:32 Pimblett was back, he locked in a flying triangle and finished the fight with a heel hook soon after. When the tap came Pimblett flew into the crowd to share his euphoria and probably with a little relief thrown in for good measure.

Before Molly McCann took centre stage, a heavyweight slugfest and a quick-fire win for Alexander Jacobson kept us very much entertained.

Bryony Tyrell called out McCann, and as McCann said herself, be careful what you wish for.

If ever a fight showed someone had outgrown their current residency it was this one. It showed McCann was very much ready for the bigger challenges the UFC could provide.

Tyrell was brave, but when McCann went to work it was just a matter of time. McCann forced the stoppage in the 2nd round and claimed the Cage Warriors flyweight title in some fashion.

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Fotunes have differed for Pimblett and McCann since last February.

Pimblett has only fought once, a losing effort against Soren Bak for lightweight gold. Injuries have hampered his progress, but signs are the broken wrist is finally on the mend.

But a scheduled return a week ago was pulled when his opponent badly missed weight. But Pimblett can look forward to 2020 with greater optimism, a much delayed UFC bow shouldn’t be ruled out.

I next saw McCann a month or so later backstage in London at Cage Warriors 92. McCann had been enjoying life as a champion and wasn’t expecting to be fighting until September, but the UFC had just announced it was coming to Liverpool in May. McCann cut a passionate promo about wanting a seat at the table, not caring where she sat. The call came, but the reality was it was the wrong time for her.

McCann didn’t have time for a full training camp, she missed weight, wasn’t allowed to rehydrate and as a result suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Gillian Ribertson.

But McCann made no excuses, she evolved and is now riding an impressive 3 fight win streak. From facing the real possibility of being cut, she is now on the verge of a UFC ranking and is targeting a shot at Valentina Shevchenko.

On balance I was extremely fortunate to cover #CW90 an electric atmosphere only recently bettered by the Leeds fans at a recent Josh Warrington fight.

Both Pimblett and McCann have kindly given up their time to do numerous interviews for FightPost which I am incredibly grateful for, and I still find it somewhat surreal when they are on the other end of a phone.

Both have a big year ahead of them, and it will be interesting where they are this time next year.

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