Cage Warriors lightweight champion Agy Sardari was made to work for it, but the 27-year-old Dutchman successfully defended his title after a hard-fought battle at Cage Warriors 121.
Sardari (14-2) was pushed to the limit by short-notice challenger Donovan Desmae, who answered the call to replace Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar on just 10 days’ notice at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London. But, after five grueling rounds of action, the champion edged a split decision to hang on to his title and register his first title defense.
The first three rounds of their lightweight title fight were virtual coin-flip calls as Belgian challenger Desmae (14-6) made light of his short-notice preparation by going toe to toe with the champion. But as the fight went into the championship rounds, Sardari turned up the pressure and made use of his takedowns to do just enough to take the victory on the scorecards. The judges scored the bout 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 in the Dutchman’s favor.
Repeated headbutts lead to bizarre disqualification in bantamweight title fight
In the night's co-main event, England's [autotag]Jack Cartwright[/autotag] retained his bantamweight title after Polish challenger [autotag]Sylwester Miller[/autotag] was disqualified for repeated headbutts during the bout. In a fight that saw Miller (9-4) enjoy significant success with his takedowns, the Pole's unfortunate habit of following his ground strikes by ducking his head into his opponent caught the attention of referee Rich Mitchell who twice warned the challenger before penalizing him on two further occasions with point deductions. https://twitter.com/UFCFightPass/status/1373043167684141060 Despite the warnings, including lengthy conversations between the official and Miller's corner, the challenger couldn't adjust his ground-and-pound technique and, after a further clash of heads followed in Round 4, Mitchell stepped in and waved off the fight to give Cartwright (10-0) the victory by disqualification as the Manchester man registered his third straight defense of the Cage Warriors 135-pound title. https://twitter.com/UFCFightPass/status/1373045085500235778
Bonner blasts his way into middleweight contention
[autotag]Matthew Bonner[/autotag] made a huge step toward a shot at the Cage Warriors middleweight title with a second-round TKO finish of former champion [autotag]James Webb[/autotag]. Bonner (9-6-1) controlled the range well early on and used a guillotine to thwart Webb's first takedown attempt of the fight. Webb (8-3-1) continued to push the pace, but Bonner did a good job of keeping the former champion at bay with his footwork and strikes. Webb stuck to his game plan of punching his way into range, then dropping down for a takedown, but Bonner's strength and takedown defense ensured he wasn't put on his back, while his strikes left Webb's face marked up as he returned to the corner at the end of the round. Bonnar started Round 2 superbly and immediately found his range with the jab, and followed up with big right hands. But Webb persevered with his strategy of blitzing in with punches and shooting for takedowns, and twice managed to get his man to the mat. However, on both occasions, Bonner showcased his strength and composure to battle his way back to his feet and away from trouble before returning to his boxing once again. Then, with the seconds counting down at the end of the round, Bonner turned up the heat and unloaded a multi-punch combination that rocked, then finished Webb as referee Dan Movahedi stepped in to stop the bout at the 4:55 mark. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1373035026741354507
Anaconda choke sends Grant into tournament final
Two-time lightweight title challenger [autotag]Jack Grant[/autotag] moved up to 170 pounds and earned a title shot with an impressive anaconda choke finish of [autotag]Madars Fleminas[/autotag] in their welterweight title tournament semifinal. In Round 1, Grant (17-6) quickly took control of the center of the cage as he stalked Fleminas (8-3), whose lateral movement made him a tricky target to pin down in the early exchanges. Eventually, Grant initiated the clinch, but didn't do too much with the position other than force the Latvian to carry his weight. But he connected with a sharp two-punch combination on the break to ensure the position resulted in damage caused. Round 2 saw Fleminas let his hands go more freely, and his awkward stand-up style and unusual cadence proved tricky for Grant to counter as "The Latvian Express" scored with some solid straight shots. Grant then switched gears and took matters to the mat as he first looked to take Fleminas' back, then transitioned to mount, then returned to the back as he pursued a submission opening. He eventually found one as he transitioned again and locked up a tight anaconda choke to force the tap at the 2:31 mark and book his place in the final of the welterweight title tournament in the process. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1373029258130513922
Garry secures title shot with highlight-reel finish
Undefeated Irish 170-pound contender [autotag]Ian Garry[/autotag] delivered a statement performance to starch former UFC welterweight [autotag]Rostem Akman[/autotag] and punch his ticket to the welterweight title tournament final. After some cagey standup from both men in Round 1, Garry (6-0) stepped into range and took the action to the canvas with a well-timed takedown. He then switched to Akman's back and locked up a body triangle before softening up the Swede with some heavy strikes. However, Akman (6-3) did enough to ensure Garry couldn't find an opening for a submission and, eventually, the pair made their way back to their feet. Akman attempted to make his way to the fence in a bid to escape Garry's clutches, but the Irishman refused to release his grip, and wore heavy on his man against the fence as he pushed hard for a second takedown. Round 2 saw Garry switch from wrestling to striking, and the change in approach paid off in spectacular style. After backing Akman toward the cage with punches, "The Future" landed a huge head kick that sent the Swede face-planting into the canvas. The victory was Garry's fifth straight finish, and ensured his next fight will be for the vacant Cage Warriors welterweight title. https://twitter.com/simonhead/status/1373022849112346629
Preliminary card recap
In the night's featured preliminary card bout, former bantamweight title challenger [autotag]Josh Reed[/autotag] bounced back from his loss to Liam Gittins at Cage Warriors 118 with a first-round TKO of [autotag]Bryan Creighton[/autotag]. Reed (11-5) and Creighton (10-9) bit down on their mouthpieces and swung for the fences in a high-octane scrap, but it was Reed's striking that paid off as he backed Creighton against the fence with punches, then finished his man with a perfectly placed knee to the chin as referee Rich Mitchell moved in to spare Creighton any further punishment. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1373004051269488640 Reed's win came hot on the heels of another first-round finish, as [autotag]Omiel Brown[/autotag] (1-0) picked up a first-round guillotine choke submission on his professional debut against [autotag]Josh Onwordi[/autotag] (2-2) in the opening bout of the night. https://twitter.com/CageWarriors/status/1373001272329113611
Cage Warriors 121: Full results
Champ Agy Sardari def. Donovan Desmae via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) – to defend lightweight title
Champ Jack Cartwright def. Sylwester Miller via disqualification (headbutts) – Round 4, 2:16 – to defendd bantamweight title
Matthew Bonner def. James Webb via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:55
Jack Grant def. Madars Fleminas via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 2, 2:31 – welterweight title tournament semifinal
Ian Garry def. Rostem Akman via knockout (head kick) – Round 2, 2:28 – welterweight title tournament semifinal
Josh Reed def. Bryan Creighton via TKO (punches and knee) – Round 1, 3:59
Omiel Brown def. Josh Onwordi via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 4:26