Kent Kauppinen marked his debut as a Cage Warriors fighter with a first: A decision win.
Former Bellator campaigner Kauppinen (13-6) had claimed each of his previous victories inside the distance, but was forced to battle all the way to the scorecards against former middleweight title challenger Jamie Richardson at Cage Warriors 120 in London as he positioned himself as a serious title contender at 185 pounds.
The first round saw Kauppinen immediately take the center of the cage as he walked down Richardson (9-7), who seemed happy to work off the back foot and frustrate the veteran. Despite his aggressive positioning, Kauppinen was economical with his output through the opening five minutes as he spent much of the round trying to draw shots from Richardson to open his man up for counter punches.
Round 2 saw Richardson give Kauppinen what he wanted by upping his work rate and giving the former Bellator man opportunities to counter. A solid lead uppercut reminded Kauppinen that he had to be wary, however, as both men started to load up in the middle round.
Richardson worked the jab well and followed up with some decent straight shots, while Kauppinen, after finding his man’s chin a little hard to locate with his counters, switched up his attack and connected with a thumping body shot.
Kauppinen came out of his corner for the final round and immediately looked to connect with big shots, while Richardson stayed elusive on the back foot. After a clinch battle against the cage, Kauppinen again tried to walk down Richardson, and fended off a takedown attempt from the former title challenger.
Then, with 35 seconds remaining in the fight, Kauppinen made the crucial breakthrough. He dropped his man with a huge right hand but, rather than follow him to the mat in search of a ground and pound finish, he called for Richardson to get back to his feet. He then connected with a big body kick and, even though he was subsequently taken down, Kauppinen connected with a succession of elbows off his back to put the seal on his most decisive round of the fight.
After the final horn had sounded, all three judges were in agreement as Kauppinen earned scores of 29-28 across the board to seal a debut victory and push him right into the title mix at 185 pounds.
Hughes calls for title shot after unanimous decision win
Irish featherweight contender [autotag]Paul Hughes[/autotag] bounced back from the disappointment of his first career loss to hand [autotag]James Hendin[/autotag] his first defeat and put himself in line for a shot at the Cage Warriors 145-pound title. After the pair traded powerful leg kicks to start, Hughes (7-1) started to take charge of the striking exchanges as he pushed forward, but his forward advances were tempered by Hendin's repeated calf kicks that briefly forced the Irishman to switch stances. However, a peach of a right hand from Hughes dropped Hendin (5-1), who did well to recover and battle back to his feet before forcing the action against the cage. After a brief pause for a low Hendin knee, the action resumed with Hendin pushing forward looking to score with more kicks to the leg and body as the pair battled back and forth to the horn. Round 2 saw more of the same, as Hendin continued to invest in his calf-kick attack, while Hughes looked to mix up his strikes and counter Hendin whenever he opened up to kick. A second accidental knee to the groin from Hendin forced another pause in the action. But, when the bout resumed, Hendin pushed forward looking to land big shots while Hughes fired back with sharp strikes in reply. Hughes found his striking flow at the start of Round 3 as he picked off Hendin as he looked to step into range and throw power punches. It eventually forced a change of approach from Hendin, who initiated the clinch and dragged Hughes to the mat. The Irishman, however, did an excellent job of getting back to his feet almost instantly. Hughes then returned the favor and took Hendin to the mat before threatening with a Kimura, then transitioning to Hendin's back. The Irishman then rode out the remaining 40 seconds of the fight by peppering Hendin with strikes until the final horn. The judges were all in agreement as they each scored the bout 29-28 in Hughes' favor, with the Irishman shouting a message down the camera for current featherweight champion Morgan Charriere, who puts his title on the line against Jordan Vucenic at Cage Warriors 122 on Saturday. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1372682820255154177
Duncan unleashes Masvidal-esque flying knee en route to TKO win
[autotag]Christian Duncan[/autotag] channeled his inner Jorge Masvidal as he scored a quickfire TKO finish in the second round of his middleweight battle with fellow unbeaten prospect [autotag]Will Currie[/autotag]. After a first round spent mostly in a clinch battle against the cage, Duncan (3-0) landed the more eye-catching strikes, but Currie (5-1) succeeded in getting his man to the mat. However, once the action hit the canvas, he wasn't able to put Duncan in any serious trouble. But things kicked up a gear in a big way at the start of Round 2, when Duncan came rushing out of the corner and connected a perfectly-timed flying knee that rocked Currie back toward the fence. Currie dived for a leg in an attempt to stem the tide, but Duncan followed up with repeated unanswered punches to eventually force referee Dan Movahedi to intervene and wave off the fight 18 seconds into the round. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1372673963327913989 Currie's corner was incensed by the stoppage, as Duncan handed Currie his first career loss, but with both Brits tipped to progress to big things under the Cage Warriors banner, it would come as no surprise to see them cross paths again further down the line.
Lister and McAleenan battle to split draw
Lightweights [autotag]Kieran Lister[/autotag] and [autotag]Decky McAleenan[/autotag] battled back and forth for the full 15-minute duration, but despite a bout that saw the momentum swing one way, then the other, the judges were unable to agree on a victor. McAleenan (7-3-1) came out of the gate aggressively and immediately found a home for his strikes. He then locked up a muay Thai plum and landed a succession of punishing knees from the clinch. Lister (7-1-2) attempted to muscle his way away from danger, but McAleenan stuck to him like glue and eventually dragged the action to the mat. But, once there, Lister superbly swept his man and moved to top position, where he landed some hard elbows while looking for an opening for a D'Arce choke. McAleenan escaped, but gave up his back in the process, which allowed Lister to close out the round landing more strikes. Lister came out more confidently at the start of Round 2, but McAleenan responded by pushing forward with strikes of his own. This time, however, Lister was ready for the onslaught and ducked under the Irishman's punches to land a well-executed takedown. After a period of inactivity, referee Marc Goddard ordered the pair back to their feet, and McAleenan dropped Lister hard with a beautiful straight right that sent his man's gumshield flying. Lister looked close to being stopped, but somehow managed to survive. McAleenan then attempted to jump into a guillotine choke, but couldn't lock up the hold as the pair went to the towels for the final time. With the fight up for grabs heading into Round 3, both men pushed hard to make their respective advantages pay. Lister desperately looked to drag the action to the mat, while McAleenan tried to keep matters standing, where he could use his striking to good effect. It led to the pair engaging in a battle of wills in the clinch as they tussled for the right to take the fight into their preferred realm. Eventually, after a brief separation, Lister managed to land the takedown and went to work from half-guard, landing heavy elbows to the Irishman while looking to set up an arm-triangle choke. McAleenan attempted to roll away from danger, but gave up his back and was forced to fight the hands as he fended off Lister's attempt to lock in a last-gasp submission. After three back-and-forth rounds, the judges were called into action, and they ruled the bout a split draw after scores of 29-28, 28-29, 28-28.
Figlak busts up Hooker to claim TKO via doctor stoppage
In the night's opening main card bout, England-based Polish lightweight [autotag]Michal Figlak[/autotag] continued his unbeaten run with a second-round doctor stoppage TKO of submission specialist [autotag]Steven Hooper[/autotag]. Hooper (5-4) relentlessly pursued the takedown early and briefly threatened with a heel hook, but Figlak (5-0) kept his cool and managed to escape. With the fight in the stand-up realm, the advantage swung in "Mad Dog's" favor as Figak connected with heavy right hands and powerful calf kicks. The fight eventually went to the mat, and Figlak connected with some nasty elbows from top position and opened up Hooper just above his eyebrow, while a bloodied-up "Clocky T" looked for an opening to attack off his back. Round 2 saw Figlak completely dominate the action as he loaded up on his strikes again and immediately undid the cornerman's good work on Hooper's cut. Figlak also continued to enjoy success with his leg kicks, which had an effect on Hooper's speed of movement. The footage from the corner after Round 2 showed the scale of the work needed from the cornerman and, after further inspection from the cageside doctor, referee Rich Mitchell waved off the fight between rounds to hand Figlak a TKO victory. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1372661330394644481
Preliminary card recap
The preliminary card in London served up a trio of eye-catching finishes with [autotag]Mateusz Figlak[/autotag], [autotag]Manny Akpan[/autotag], and [autotag]Coner Hignett[/autotag] all striking their way to success. Figlak (5-1) folded up [autotag]Josh Plant[/autotag] (2-4) with a crushing body shot in the first round of their welterweight bout, while the unorthodox Akpan (3-0) produced a big TKO finish of [autotag]Ben Ellis[/autotag] (3-1) with a spinning heel kick, followed by hard punches, after spending much of the first round on his back. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1372639611692929033 Hignett (9-6), meanwhile, mixed up his knees and punches to close out the preliminary card with a second-round TKO of [autotag]Leigh Mitchell[/autotag] (3-3).
Cage Warriors 120: Full results
Kent Kauppinen def. Jamie Richardson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Paul Hughes def. James Hendin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Christian Duncan def. Will Currie via TKO (flying knee and punches) – Round 2, 0:18
Kieran Lister vs. Decky McAleenan scored a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)
Michal Figlak def. Steven Hooper via TKO (doctor stoppage due to cut) – Round 2, 5:00
Coner Hignett def. Leigh Mitchell via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 3:03
Manny Akpan def. Ben Ellis via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:22
Mateusz Figlak def. Josh Plant via knockout (body punch) – Round 1, 2:36
Matthew Elliott def. Scott Pedersen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)