2022 is winding down, but as the days on the calendar dwindle to under 60, the action in MMA is just picking up. November is an especially busy month for UK-based promotion Cage Warriors. Over the next three weekends, the promotion will be in action with live events, starting this Friday afternoon (US time) with the Cage Warriors 145 main event.
Live coverage of Cage Warriors 145 will begin Friday at 3 pm ET/ noon PT on the UFC‘s subscription-based streaming service, UFC Fight Pass with the undercard. Main card action follows at 5 pm ET/ 2 pm PT on Fight Pass.
Featherweight Title to be Unified in Cage Warriors 145 Main Event
All told, Cage Warriors 145 will feature a packed 14-fight card, highlighted by a unification battle for the Cage Warriors Featherweight Championship in the Cage Warriors 145 main event. Incumbent champion Jordan Vucenic (9-1 MMA, 5-0 CWFC) puts his belt on the line against current interim champion Paul Hughes (8-1 MMA, 5-1 CWFC).
As with all MMA championship fights, Friday night’s headliner is set for an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show. The winner will become the permanent Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion in a rescheduling of a fight that was postponed from last March.
Vucenic and Hughes Finally Meet Again on Friday
Initially, Jordan Vucenic and Paul Hughes were scheduled to fight earlier this year on March 18 during the Cage Warriors 134 main event, a rematch from Dec. 12, 2020 during Cage Warriors 119, but the pairing was scrapped amid the latter sustaining a neck injury prior to the card. Vucenic remained on Cage Warriors 134, fighting and defeating James Hendin (6-2 MMA, 5-2 CWFC) in the rescheduled Cage Warriors 134 main event (second-round submission due to a standing rear-naked choke.)
In the original fight, Vucenic battled to a split decision victory against Hughes after three rounds in a nontitle fight.
Seven and a half months after Vucenic and Hughes were due to meet for the unified title, the stakes are the same. Barring anything unforeseen between now and Friday night, the title will be unified this weekend.
Cage Warriors 145 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Cage Warriors 145 main event on Friday night, both Vucenic and Hughes stand level in height at 5-foot-9. Vucenic owns a 72-inch reach, with no such information accessible online for Paul Hughes.
Unlike the UFC Vegas 63 main event from last Saturday night, there’s some separation in the betting odds for this championship fight on Friday. As of Sunday evening, the oddsmakers have Jordan Vucenic installed as a -200 favorite to win, with Paul Hughes as a +160 underdog.
If you plan on betting on the fight, please wager responsibly.
Jordan Vucenic Looks to Extend Seven-Fight Winning Streak
Jordan Vucenic enters Friday’s main attraction having gone 5-0 in his last five fights as part of an ongoing seven-fight winning streak. Prior to the fight against Hendin in March of this year, he scored a split decision victory against Morgan Charriere (15-9-1 MMA, 3-3 CWFC) back in March of 2021 during the Cage Warriors 122 main event.
Upon his most recent win, the champion sat down with Edith LaBelle. During his post-fight interview, Vucenic asked if he performed well enough to be respected by the fans.
“If they’re not awake yet, they should be,” Vucenic began. “If they’re not awake after that, nothing’s going to wake them up.”
Later in the interview, Vucenic did not believe that he’d fight Paul Hughes in a championship unification battle under the Cage Warriors banner.
“I think that chapter’s closed for the present future,” he said at the time. “Maybe sometime in the future, I think in the UFC, that’s going to be something. Maybe it’s going to headline one of the cards in the UFC future, but I think his chance was this fight and he got injured.”
The door has since been reopened for Vucenic and Hughes to do battle and the future is this Friday. Can Vucenic run his streak to eight wins in a row? Tune in and find out.
Paul Hughes Returns From Neck Injury
In the other corner, interim champion Paul Hughes enters the main attraction having gone 4-1 in his last five appearances and is currently on a two-fight winning streak entering this weekend’s action. Hughes and Vucenic have a common opponent in Morgan Charriere, with the former having defeated him (majority decision) on Oct. 1, 2021 during the Cage Warriors 128 main event for the interim title.
Hughes was set to fight Vucenic on March 18, but just days before the fight, news broke that he’d no longer be appearing on that card due to a neck injury. Despite the setback, he vowed to return to fight the winner of the Vucenic/ Hendin fight when he was medically cleared.
“Can’t believe I am writing this,” he said in an Instagram post. “The fight is off. To be rescheduled to a later date. My heart is absolutely broken.”
Even though Hughes had a setback in recent times, his MMA story as a whole is nothing short of spectacular. This is a man who turned professional in the sport while still a teenager and was advised to end his career as a fighter after sustaining a broken hand three times over.
Despite everything, he keeps fighting. A victory here will be much deserved for Paul Hughes.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Friday’s main event looks like it’ll be another toss-up. Both Hughes and Vucenic have gotten the job done inside the distance in the past, but will it play a role again here?
Look For Vucenic’s Submissions
Four of Jordan Vucenic’s wins have come by stoppage. Of those four stoppages, two have come by way of submission, including his most recent victory against Hendin.
During the second round of a scheduled five, Vucenic and Hendin traded punches, with the former landing a decent body shot en route to a takedown attempt, but he thought better of himself and jettisoned the effort.
From there, Vucenic was able to grapple against Hendin standing up, applying the needed torque to secure the standing rear-naked choke, forcing Hendin to tap and nap inside two minutes into the period. If Vucenic can’t take Hughes down, look for him to sink in a standing submission.
Which of these fighters tops your UFC Pound for Pound list?
Paul Hughes Can Be Vicious With Punches
In the other corner, Paul Hughes can punch his way to victory if the circumstances deem it necessary, as was the case in his professional debut in 2017 versus Adam Gustab. Even though the fight was scheduled for three rounds, Hughes needed less than half of one to close the deal.
He began by throwing feints at Gustab before landing a punch to briefly wobble him against the cage fence. Hughes absorbed a punch on Gustab, but this was his fight, opening up the endgame with a leg kick, followed up by a jumping knee to take his opponent down.
From there, Hughes teed off with a barrage of relentless punches with an occasional knee to wobble Gustab even further before landing a three-punch combo to knock him out.
If Paul Hughes is able to get out to a quick start in the Cage Warriors 145 main event, the unified championship will be his on Friday night.
Daytime MMA is a rare treat for North American audiences. You don’t get to see it too often, especially on a weekday afternoon, but when you get the chance to watch it, the fights can really deliver. Will the Cage Warriors 145 main event live up to the hype? Be sure to watch.
Prediction: Jordan Vucenic by Unanimous Decision.
main image credit: Embed from Getty Images