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Cage Warriors 140 Main Event: McKee vs. Burlinson Breakdown

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Your MMA weekend continues on Saturday as UK-based promotion Cage Warriors sets up shop in Ireland, specifically Belfast for its first show of the summer on the first Saturday night of the summer.

Belfast’s SSE Arena plays host to Cage Warriors 140, an event seen live worldwide on the UFC‘s subscription-based streaming platform, UFC Fight Pass.

Coverage of Cage Warriors 140 begins Saturday afternoon (US time) at 2:30 pm ET/ 11:30 am PT on Fight Pass with the prelims (7:30 pm UK time), followed at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT (US time) with the main card (9 pm UK time.)

Vacant Welterweight Championship at Stake in Cage Warriors 140 Main Event Saturday Night

Absent of any postponements for any reason between now and Saturday night, Cage Warriors 140 will feature nine bouts in Belfast, including the battle for the Vacant Cage Warriors Welterweight Championship in the Cage Warriors 140 main event of the evening.

Rhys McKee (11-4-1 MMA, 4-0 CWFC), a two-fight veteran of the UFC, will collide with Justin Burlinson (7-1 MMA, 2-0 CWFC), a veteran of Bellator MMA, on Saturday during the Cage Warriors 140 main event this Saturday evening.

As with all MMA championship fights, Saturday night’s main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the action.

The winner on Saturday will become the 14th different man to hold the welterweight strap, succeeding former champion Ian Garry, who relinquished the championship upon joining the UFC’s active roster last year.

Cage Warriors 140 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the Cage Warriors 140 main event on Saturday evening, Rhys McKee stands as the taller man at 6-foot-2, compared to Justin Burlinson’s 6-foot-1 frame.

Additionally, McKee owns a four-inch reach advantage (78 inches to 74 inches) over Burlinson ahead of the headliner this weekend.

Could A Return to Major MMA Be In The Offing for Cage Warriors 140 Main Event Winner?

One storyline worth keeping an eye on in the aftermath of the Cage Warriors 140 main event is the potential that Saturday’s winner could potentially trade in the Cage Warriors Welterweight Championship for a roster spot in a major MMA promotion later on.

Going into the main event on Saturday, 13 different men (counting interim reigns) have been the promotion’s 170-lb. champion at one time or another, with Dan Hardy winning the belt on three separate occasions, and 10 of the former champions have found success in major MMA promotions.

Both Rhys McKee and Justin Burlinson already have experience in MMA’s big leagues, so the possibility exists that either of these men could return to a major promotion with a victory here.

Rhys McKee Ready For Justin Burlinson on Saturday in Cage Warriors 140 Main Event

Rhys McKee comes into Saturday’s main event having gone 3-2 in his last five fights, most recently snapping a two-match losing streak against Aleksi Mantykivi (third-round knockout: punches) back in October of last year in his Cage Warriors return after being cut by the UFC.

A few months ago, he was interviewed by MyMMANews, giving the Burlinson camp some bulletin board material ahead of the Cage Warriors 140 main event.

“The only one that makes sense (to fight) is Burlinson,” McKee said. “When Skiba (Daniel Skibinski) and Burlinson fought, I knew, hopefully, whoever wins, surely, they’ll go on the mike and they’ll say my name because I’m the biggest fight in that division and if people say otherwise, then they’re just naïve.”

Later in the interview, McKee pointed out the fact that the feeling was mutual with Burlinson.

“Burlinson called me out, too,” he said. “He obviously wants it, he put my name in his mouth, so, I’m not a man to shy away, so let’s get it done.”

The war of words is over, and now, McKee and Burlinson have a score to settle on Saturday night.

The Challenge From Justin Burlinson

In the other corner, Justin Burlinson enters the Cage Warriors 140 main event on Saturday having gone 4-1 in his last five fights, including a second-round submission (guillotine choke) against the previously-mentioned Daniel Skibinski.

After the fight, he spoke to Cage Warriors reporter Edith LaBelle, and it was at this point that he formally challenged his next foe.

“Definitely, next fight, I want Rhys McKee in Belfast for the title,” Burlinson said.

Justin Burlinson appeared during the fifth season of Dana White’s Contender Series, and although he didn’t walk away with a UFC deal that evening, losing by first-round knockout to Yohan Lainesse, he chalked it up as a learning experience and a reminder for people to seize the moment, whatever it is.

“I think any chance in life, especially fighting, a lot of chances come up once in a lifetime, so you’ve just got to grab it while it’s there,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. but look where I am now. I’m back with a win over a top opponent and I’m next in line for the title.”

Already, one can plainly see that just by the comments of both men, this is shaping up to be a cracking fight, but will it deliver on Saturday?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

The Cage Warriors 140 main event looks to be a classic strength vs. strength matchup, as both Rhys McKee and Justin Burlinson have been known to score the stoppage.

Thus, it stands to reason that establishing control of the fight in the early going will be key in determining who walks out of the arena with the belt on Saturday night.

McKee Can Be Quick as Lightning With Punches

One aspect of Rhys McKee’s fight game that abundantly shows itself on video is his ability to abruptly end the contest with his punches, as was the case a couple of years ago vs. Hakon Foss.

In the first round of a scheduled three, McKee showed patience with Foss as he stalked him, waiting for the right moment to throw a strike, which would come early on.

McKee pieced Foss up with a double jab, and although Foss countered with a jab himself, it would be to no avail.

From there, Rhys McKee scored with a brutal jab to knock Foss down, ending the contest with a surge of ground and pound shots to score the knockout.

If Rhys McKee is able to fire off some jabs, this fight will be over in a hurry.

Justin Burlinson Can Be Even Faster

In the other corner, Justin Burlinson can be just as brutal, and more expedient, with his punches, something that Wendle Lewis found out the hard way three years ago.

Right from the opening bell, Lewis and Burlinson exchanged punches with one another, but it was the latter who would prove to be the aggressor, as he landed a five-punch combination to send Lewis down and out in just nine seconds (verbal submission upon Lewis waving his hand), tied for the second-quickest finish in Bellator lightweight history.

If Burlinson is able to piece McKee up with a vicious combo, he’ll have the championship won.

Final Thoughts

The Cage Warriors 140 main event has the potential to be not just the best MMA fight of the weekend, but also the best MMA fight in the entirety of 2022 by the time the year is over.

This is a fight you can’t afford to miss, and Saturday can’t get here soon enough.

Prediction: Rhys McKee by First-Round TKO.

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.