Just half of Next Generation MMA’s Cage Warriors 152 contingent left Manchester’s BEC Arena victorious on a night of mixed emotions for the Liverpool gym.
One of those was Nathan Fletcher, who submitted Daan Duijs in the first round of the co-main event. On the other hand, Adam Cullen, one of the big favourites on the night, suffered a devastating knockout by Dumitru Girlean at the start of the third round.
Elsewhere on the card, Luke Riley and Liam Gittins improved their records, while Gavin Hughes lost to Chris Bungard, and Chris Price went down to Michal Folc.
On a night where George Hardwick needed less than five minutes to defend his lightweight title against Yann Liasse, and potentially stamp his ticket to the UFC, MerseySportLive’s Adam Tiffen was cage side to run the rule over Next Gen’s Merseyside representatives.
Nathan Fletcher makes a statement
Following a self-described “mixed bag of results” for his team, the pressure was on Fletcher to deliver in the co-main event. The matchup between him and Duijs was always going to be a grapple-heavy contest. The Dutchman made the first takedown attempt but he couldn’t do anything with it and Fletcher ended up in control.
‘The Southport Strangler’ got his opponent onto his back and looked for a head and arm choke, but he couldn’t quite get the angle to finish the fight. Instead of continuing to pursue the submission, he mounted Duijs and started landing heavy ground-and-pound.
The Dutch submission specialist managed to get Fletcher off, but he fell straight into his guard. Almost immediately Duijs was trapped in a triangle choke, and a few small angle adjustments was all that was needed to cinch it up and force a tap-out.
Fletcher believes that he should face the winner of the fight between Dylan Hazan and Caolon Loughrane for the vacant bantamweight title on May 6 in Rome.
Adam Cullen’s shock defeat
Coming into his fight against Girlean, Cullen was a huge favourite after winning all six of his professional contests by way of first round stoppage. So, it was something if a shock when this bout entered the third round.
The first two rounds were competitive and predominantly filled by back-and-forth grappling exchanges between the two. But then, within the first few seconds of the final five minutes, Girlean landed a picture-perfect elbow that dropped Cullen. He was out cold immediately, and was motionless for a worrying amount of time. This was Cullen’s first career loss, but he only needs to look to teammate Fletcher as how to bounce back from losing your 0.
Luke Riley gets tested
The consensus of many in the BEC Arena was that Riley, a prolific finisher, would make quick work of 2-0 Parker who’d taken the fight on just a week’s notice. Parker clearly hadn’t received the same script as everyone else.
He hurt Riley twice within the opening minute of the fight, landing hooks that buckled the knees of the red-corner fighter. Riley was able to recover and started landing damaging shots of his own. It was easily the best round of the night.
Riley managed to recover between the rounds. For the final 10 minutes he softened up the body of Parker, who always offered a threat, but all the judges scored the fight in favour of the Next Gen man.
Riley was clearly frustrated with himself after the fight and said he was a 2/10 on the night, despite the unanimous decision victory.