Cage Warriors returns to Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday, as local lad Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett takes on Soren “The True Viking” Bak for the Lightweight title in the main event, and fellow Scouser Lee “The Butcher” Chadwick defends his Middleweight title against Jonas Billstein in the co-main.
The main event of “The Baddy” versus “The True Viking” is going to be an absolute barn burner for those in attendance at the Echo Arena, with both men planning on going all out to take the Lightweight title, which was vacated by Chris Fishgold, following his long-awaited call up to the UFC.
Pimblett (14-2) is not only going to be wanting to win the title — making him a former Cage Warriors Featherweight champion and a Cage Warriors lightweight champion — the only other fighter to have held both titles was Conor McGregor, but also show that turning down a UFC call up was the right choice.
Expect this fight to go to the mat and end in a submission, with Pimblett (who has seven submission wins) putting his BJJ up against Bak’s (who is 10-1 with six wins coming via submission) strong wrestling game.
In the co-main, Lee “The Butcher” Chadwick (24-13) will be the bookies’ favourite heading into his title defence against Jonas Billstein (19-5-1).
In the build up to this fight, Chadwick has been critical of his opponents striking, taking aim at Billstein’s boxing ability, or lack of it, and has also stated in an interview with myself: “I think there’s a chance he’s going to be knocked out.”
Chadwick will have to be wary of Billstein’s finishing ability though, as he does have 10 wins by KO/TKO, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on Chadwick retaining his title.
Jack Grant (14-4) will be seeing his fight against Aleksi Mantykivi (11-4) as his golden ticket to a Lightweight title shot.
The Lincolnshire born fighter last fought at Cage Warriors 93 against Mehdi Dakaev, winning via unanimous decision, with that decision being the only win of his pro career where he didn’t finish the fight, with seven of his wins being by KO/TKO and the remaining six being by submission.
However, Grant has been stopped twice via KO/TKO, something Mantykivi will look to exploit, with the Fin already having four wins via KO on his record.
A stoppage win for Grant here will leave him as the most likely fighter in the division to receive the title shot against either Pimblett or Bak.
Opening the main card will be a Welterweight scrap between Danish fighter Nicolas Dalby (14-3-1) and the relatively inexperienced Italian, Roberto “Minotauro” Allegretti (3-0)
Dalby is the heavy favourite going into this fight as he is the more experienced fighter, a former Cage Warriors Welterweight champion, and has come the closest anyone has ever go to beating UFC Welterweight title contender, Darren Till, who he fought to a draw with in his last UFC fight.
However, an upset could be on the cards, as “Lokomotivo” has lost his last three fights, and will be fighting with an air of desperation as he tries to get back to winning ways.
The undercard for Cage Warriors 96 is looking stacked too, with local fighters Elliot Jenkins and Tim Barnett fighting in the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions respectively, and Sam Creasey has his first fight since losing to Nathan Grayson at Cage Warriors 92, where he was shockingly knocked out and missed out on capturing the Flyweight title.
The event will also see the semi-finals of the Cage Warriors amateur tournament.
Pro Prelims will be broadcast live on Facebook on the Sport Bible page from 6:30pm GMT, with the main card kicking off on UFC Fight Pass and BT Sport 1 from 9pm.
What are your thoughts on the card? Let me know by tweeting me @Cobleyreporting.