As 2022 winds down, one would surmise that MMA is taking time off before a new year begins next week. Not Cage Warriors, the top MMA promotion in the UK. Saturday night, Graham Boylan’s organization wraps up the old year with the final card of an entertaining 12 months from Indigo at the O2 Arena in London.
Cage Warriors 148 (main card Saturday, 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT, UFC Fight Pass after prelims at 2 pm ET/ 11 am PT) will consist of a 12-fight card, absent of any postponements between now and the weekend. The promotion will conduct this card with a twist:
Saturday’s event will be branded Team Europe vs. Team USA, with five of the 12 fights being intercontinental affairs. Cage Warriors 148 will be topped with three championship confrontations to close the show, including the Cage Warriors 148 main event of the evening.
Middleweight Championship at Stake in Cage Warriors 148 Main Event Saturday
This Saturday, after Sam Creasey (16-4 MMA, 11-4 CWFC) fights Shajidul Haque (14-5 MMA, 6-2 CWFC) for the flyweight championship, the focus shifts to supremacy at 185 lbs. Current titlist Christian Duncan (7-0 MMA, 7-0 CWFC) will put his strap on the line when he meets veteran challenger Jesse Taylor (33-16, CWFC promotional debut), a two-time alumnus of the UFC, in the Cage Warriors 148 main event.
As with all MMA title fights, this headlining fixture will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round. It’ll be a battle of youth versus experience, as well.
The 27-year-old Duncan will be defending his middleweight championship in his eighth bout since turning professional in September of 2020, while the 39-year-old Taylor walks to the cage for the 50th time in his career, which dates back to August of 2006. Will youth defeat experience this time?
Cage Warriors 148 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into the Cage Warriors 148 main event on Saturday night, Christian Duncan stands as the taller contestant at 6-foot-2, compared to the 6-foot-1 frame of Jesse Taylor. Taylor owns a 73-inch reach, with no such information for Duncan.
As was the case with the flyweight championship, no betting odds for the main event were available at press time. If you intend to place a bet on any of the fights happening over the New Year’s weekend, please wager responsibly.
Ring Rust Shouldn’t Be a Factor for Christian Duncan
Christian Duncan enters the Cage Warriors 148 main event having yet to lose in his professional career. Factoring in amateur fights, he hasn’t walked out of a cage in defeat since Nov. 13, 2019, by unanimous decision against Sultan Omarov (13-4 amateur MMA) during the third night of the IMMAF-WMMAA Amateur World Championships.
Most recently, he scored a first-round knockout (spinning elbow and punches) versus Marian Dimitrov (10-3 MMA, 0-1 CWFC) during the Cage Warriors 146 main event on Nov. 12. After the fight, the champ talked to Edith LaBelle, where he mentioned that the cage is his art gallery.
“I just feel free in there to perform,” Duncan said. “I see it as being an artist and it’s your canvas. You can paint your picture in there. That’s the way it is out here. That’s how I see it.”
By the time Duncan enters the cage on Saturday night, just 48 days will have passed between fights. Thus, it stands to reason that ring rust will be no issue for Duncan and his camp going into the championship on Saturday night. A win here could easily put him on Dana White’s radar as the calendar turns to 2023
Christian Duncan just fought almost seven weeks ago. He’ll be the fresher fighter, but how well will he do with the quick turnaround?
Jesse Taylor Looking to Make Up for Lost Time
In the other corner, Jesse Taylor has gone 3-2 in his last five MMA fights and is currently on a two-fight winning streak. He hasn’t fought in over a full year, with his most recent win occurring on Nov. 13, 2021, versus Daniel McWilliams (18-50 MMA) by first-round submission due to a rear-naked choke in just 28 seconds. It was the ninth defeat in McWilliams’ ongoing 11-fight losing streak.
Taylor was slated to have returned to the cage on the night of July 23, when he was scheduled to fight Ty Freeman (11-3 MMA) during XMMA 5: Southern Heat’s main card. He was forced to withdraw from the show amid an injury.
This is a man who was part of two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter television series. Saturday’s Cage Warriors 148 co-main event will be his 50th career appearance across all promotions, just two days before his 40th birthday.
Can Taylor make the most of what might be his last chance at a championship? Tune in and find out.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Cage Warriors 148 main event looks to favor Jesse Taylor, a former collegiate wrestler with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Christian Duncan’s status as a knockout specialist.
Christian Duncan is Lightning Fast With Knockouts
One aspect of Christian Duncan’s fight game that’s evident on video is his ability to end the fight in a hurry and in a brutal fashion. You don’t have to travel that far back in time to see one, either. His most recent fight versus Dimitrov was a textbook example
During the first round of a scheduled five, Duncan was on the attack right from the command to fight, throwing feints and leg kicks. While Dimitrov was able to duck his way out of a feint, Duncan scored with a spinning kick to Dimitrov’s head and a punch.
After a pause in the action for an eye poke, Duncan landed a two-punch combo before going into the clinch, with Dimitrov landing an elbow as he exited.
Later on in the period, Dimitrov went on the offensive, throwing several punches, yet many of them misfired. As the round reached its final seconds, Duncan landed a vicious spinning elbow to wobble Dimitrov, ending the fight with a two-punch combination to knock him out.
If Duncan can land one punch on the button, it could be all he needs to win the Cage Warriors 148 main event.
Jesse Taylor’s Ground Game is Brutal
In the other corner, just as Christian Duncan can be vicious with punches, Jesse Taylor can be just as nasty on the ground. Dhiego Lima found this out firsthand during The Ultimate Fighter live finale in July of 2017.
While the second round of a scheduled three started out beautifully for Lima after knocking Taylor down with a punch and taking his back, Taylor was able to reverse position and take Lima’s back.
Lima made a grave mistake with this move, and it was only a matter of time before he paid the price. Taylor was able to stretch his opponent out and apply the torque to lock in a rear-naked choke and win the fight.
If Jesse Taylor can knock Christian Duncan down, he may be able to flip the script and capture the championship.
As we’ve chronicled previously, the Cage Warriors 148 main event is a contest of youth versus experience. A win for either Christian Duncan or Jesse Taylor will be a career-defining victory.
Duncan could find his way on the UFC’s roster with his second defense of the middleweight title in his ninth career fight. Taylor could ride off into the sunset of his career with his 34th career win.
Tune in for this one. Someone’s life is going to change on Saturday night.
Prediction: Christian Duncan by First-Round TKO
Featured Imaged Credit: Getty Images