Cage Warriors

Cage Warriors 135 Main Event Preview: Skibinski vs. Burlinson

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On a weekend where the UFC is on hiatus, most people would settle for a quiet evening at home, but not diehard MMA fans.

Cage Warriors Returns For a Doubleheader Weekend, Beginning With Cage Warriors 135 Main Event

This Friday and Saturday night, UK-based MMA promotion Cage Warriors returns to BEC Arena in Manchester, UK for its first doubleheader weekend of action since last December– and it all starts with Friday’s Cage Warriors 135 and the Cage Warriors 135 main event.

In the headlining bout of the evening on Friday night, welterweight action serves as the focus when Daniel Skibinski (18-6 MMA, CWFC promotional debut) meets Justin Burlinson (6-1 MMA, 1-0 CWFC).

As with all nontitle bouts in Cage Warriors, this one will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to close out the action in Manchester on Friday night.

Cage Warriors 135 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into Friday night’s main event, Justin Burlinson stands as the taller man with a 6-foot-1 frame, while Daniel Skibinski counters at 5-foot-11.

In addition, Burlinson owns a 2.3-inch reach advantage (74 inches even to 71.7 inches) over Skibinski in this fight.

Daniel Skibinski Looks To Make Good on Cage Warriors Debut in Cage Warriors 135 Main Event

A universal storyline for the Cage Warriors 135 main event on Friday is that both of these men are entering with 4-1 records in their respective last five fights and both have come off of a loss last time out.

For the debuting Daniel Skibinski, he suffered a first-round knockout due to punches against Tahir Abdullaev in October during UAE Warriors 24, a card also featuring current UFC welterweight Andre Fialho.

Skibinski, a veteran of the Babilon MMA promotion in his native Poland, says that he’s got his sights set on a much grander prize, as he explained to MMASucka.com last year.

“I am the master of the Babilon MMA organization in the 77 kg (170 lbs.) category since 2018,” Skibinski began. “However, my cooperation with this organization has just ended. Currently, I am looking for bigger challenges in other organizations. All the time, I am trying to get involved in the largest organization in the world– the UFC. This is my goal now. I feel like I’m ready!”

These are confident words by Daniel Skibinski, and joining the active roster of Cage Warriors is certainly a decent stepping stone to his ultimate goal of joining the UFC, but can he realize his dreams with a victory in the Cage Warriors 135 main event on Friday night?

In the other corner stands a Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus from the 2021 season of the program, and this main event will be somewhat of a “home game” for Daniel Skibinski’s opponent this coming weekend.

Justin Burlinson Returns Home For Cage Warriors 135 Main Event, Looking For Second Chance at UFC Deal

Justin Burlinson, a veteran of Bellator MMA, scored a second-round knockout due to punches versus David Bear back in June during Cage Warriors 124— and that fight was almost his only appearance in Cage Warriors– as he was then booked to meet Yohan Lainesse in the final episode of the 2021 season of DWCS on Nov. 2.

That night, Burlinson was knocked out from a left hook inside the first round, resulting in Lainesse scoring a UFC deal from Dana White at the end of the evening.

Now, Burlinson, a Sunderland product, returns to his home country for a home game and one has to believe that he’s aiming to get the win this Friday during the Cage Warriors 135 main event with a full live audience in tow, something he didn’t have the luxury of in his Cage Warriors debut last summer.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on crowds in the United Kingdom at the time of the event, Cage Warriors 123, 124, and 125 were all held without a paying audience

“For me, I think it might have been a bit better if there was a crowd,” Burlinson said. “I might have woken up a bit earlier because the first round, I just felt like I fell half-asleep and then he (Bear) hit us with a spinning elbow and that woke us up a little bit. I just felt a bit sluggish. It was dead quiet and I just walked out. It was like as if I was walking the shop.”

Another plus for Justin Burlinson and his camp going into this weekend is that there will be not just a full crowd, but also a partisan one for their fighter, but will he be able to feed off of the energy that the crowd will give him on Friday night?

Only time will tell.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the Cage Warriors 135 main event on Friday night seems to favor Justin Burlinson, a black belt in jiu-jitsu, compared to Daniel Skibinski’s wrestling background, so it stands to reason that the ground game could come into play here.

Daniel Skibinski Can’t Get Knocked Down

One aspect of Daniel Skibinski’s fight game that’s concerning heading into Friday night’s main event is that of him possibly getting knocked down with a crisp punch, something that happened to him last time out versus Abdullaev.

In the first round of a scheduled three, Skibinski almost immediately found himself in serious trouble when Abdullaev expertly reversed a takedown attempt by landing a punch to knock him down, needing to land only one more punch when he was grounded to get the victory.

If Daniel Skibinski can manage to stay upright, he’s got a shot at winning on Friday night, but as little as one knockdown could doom him.

Justin Burlinson Can Take Control Early

In the other corner, Justin Burlinson has shown that he’s able to control the fight from the beginning, as he showed during his second pro fight against Josh Plant.

Right from the command to fight in the first round, Burlinson was able to ward off some Plant punches and immediately knocked him down.

From there, Justin Burlinson was in cruise control during this fight, repeatedly scoring with ground and pound shots from both the top and back mounts to try and soften Josh Plant up for a submission attempt, with Plant absorbing some solid damage in the process, finally sinking in the rear-naked choke inside three minutes into the opening round to end the fight.

If Justin Burlinson comes out like a house on fire on Friday night, it could be game, set, match right then and there.

Final Thoughts

In summation, this could be a wildly entertaining fight this Friday in the Cage Warriors 135 main event, but one fair warning:

The first punch of the fight could be the last punch of the fight, as it could all depend on which man establishes control of the contest.

Prediction: Justin Burlinson by Unanimous Decision.

Featured image credit to Cage Warriors

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.