Cage Warriors returns to action this month after an oh-so-prolonged hiatus, and boy have they lined up some cracking fights to get the ball rolling again.
Among a score of title fights across the weekend of shows, the undefeated Mancunian finish-artist Jack Cartwright (8-0) looks to defend his bantamweight belt for the second time, taking on top Dutch up and comer Gerardo Fanny. Let’s take a look at both gentlemen and see what may be in store.
Jack Cartwright Background
Manchester’s first MMA star, Jack Cartwright comes from a life of martial arts. He started training at 5 years old, and since then has consistently added new disciplines to his game, such that by 18 years of age he was a capable kickboxer, wrestler, and boxer, with national championships to his name in them all. Once he rounded out his game with some BJJ at SBG Manchester, his cage-fighting career began.
Jack’s lifetime of training paid off for him, as it usually does for lifelong martial artists. He’s earned himself a devilish reputation thanks to his penchant for first-round finishes and boisterous personality. Undefeated at professional, Cartwright’s one and only loss came in an amateur bout against Sam Spencer where he got caught in a triangle.
His tendency to stop guys is so consistent that the only pro fight of Jack’s that’s seen a second round was his recent title defense against Manuel Bilic, which went the full 25 minutes thanks only to Bilic’s incredible toughness. This lethal young lad has made mince-meat of everyone else in minutes. Should he do the same to Gerardo, I don’t believe the call from Dana White will be far behind.
Gerardo Fanny Background
Born and raised in Willemstad, the Netherlands, 26-year-old Gerardo Fanny has been fighting professionally since 2015. The young Dutchman has clearly made a name for himself in European MMA, as his upcoming clash with Cartwright will be his first Cage Warriors event, and he’s already in title contention.
It’s not hard to figure out why when you take a look at the man’s record – a sweeping mixture of wins puts him at a strong 9-1, his one loss coming by triangle choke last year. Gerardo is also no stranger to gold himself, having won the Strength and Honour Championships’ bantamweight title after a TKO stoppage against Luiz Filho in his last bout. Should he conquer Cartwright, the man will have seized two belts of two different promotions in a row. Sounds great, but that’s easier said than done against this undefeated opponent.
Jack Cartwright Breakdown
Despite Cartwright’s laundry-list of skills, the Mancunian’s style is actually rather simple. Put simply, he walks forward and throws hell for leather. Jack is a bantamweight but is known by his team to “hit like a heavyweight”, so he relies on the strength of his hands and his confident demeanor to apply constant pressure to his opponents and hunt the finish. He occasionally eats a few shots for his over-confident style, but so far it’s turned out far worse for his opponents than it has for him.
When fighting a grappler, or perhaps when a striker eats a shot or two and transforms into a wrestler, Jack keeps his wrestling chops as a defensive measure to keep the fight standing, where he prefers it. However he’s no slouch on the ground if it goes there: a good number of his finishes have been submissions, which I discussed in my recent Fighter Profile of the Englishman. All in all, Jack is dangerous everywhere. Training from the age of 5 will do that to a man. But preferentially, he likes a good old fashioned brawl, which I expect to see when he faces Gerardo, a fellow striker.
Gerardo Fanny Breakdown
The Dutch are known for their kickboxing, and Gerardo Fanny is as good a proponent of that as any. He clearly prefers to keep things standing, and is confident in his hands, but has a slightly more cautious style than Cartwright, who tends to throw caution to the wind in search of chins.
Gerardo is more calculated and light on his feet, slipping shots and timing entries carefully. That said, when he does let his hands go, he has surprising speed, especially in his quick lead hooks which he throws quite often. Lead hooks could come in very handy against someone like Cartwright who’s always walking forward and is more than willing to take some to give some.
Gerardo’s takedown defence isn’t brilliant, but I don’t see that being a problem since we almost certainly have a kickboxing match on our hands here. Regardless, when he does end up on the mats, Gerardo is very active on bottom, as seen in his triangle choke against Ali Magomedov soon after being taken down. I’d love to see some grappling between these two men as both have shown to be proactive in a bad spot, but again, I think it’s unlikely the fight ends up on the mat.
Gerardo has a steep mountain to climb if he wants to take the gold from Cartwright. There are few men the Englishman hasn’t landed clean on, and fewer still that have managed to endure it. Gerardo comes from an elite area in terms of kickboxing, and is certainly a confident striker. But he gets hit fairly often against other competition, and getting hit is a dangerous game to play when you have hands like Cartwright’s coming at you. It’s always possible the Dutchman turns out to be one of the rare few tough enough to survive the onslaught, but actually winning is a different story entirely.
I think his best shot would be to stay on his bike, use his footwork and pepper Cartwright quickly before getting out of harm’s way. With any luck he could potentially cruise to a decision victory if he can stay vigilant at all times and just try to be faster on his feet than Jack can keep up with. His quick lead hooks could possibly dissuade Cartwright from coming on so strong, and the Dutchman’s light footwork may give him an advantage in staying out of danger.
If he tries to trade, it could be a very short night at the office for Gerardo Fanny, and not in a good way. He could try some flash submissions, but again, I just don’t think it’s worth getting tangled up with such a lethal finisher.
Regardless of the outcome, I do think the bout will be exciting. With Jack Cartwright pining for a UFC contract he’s sure to come out swinging looking for another early finish. Meanwhile, Gerardo has his second opportunity for a strap in front of him so we can expect to see the best of him when he makes that walk. But ultimately, I have to go with Cartwright. His skills are diverse enough that he can finish you from everywhere, and it doesn’t tend to take too many shots to put guys down. I’d say a TKO in the first or second, but we’ll see how well Gerardo’s chin holds up against power he’s surely never felt before in his life.
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