Cage Warriors 106: Night of Champions takes place for the first time ever at the historic Eventim Apollo in London for arguably the biggest card in the promotion’s history. On Saturday 29th June, six titles will be up for grabs at the top of the card while most of the evening’s prelims wouldn’t look out of place on any other Cage Warriors main card which shows just how loaded with talent this event is. In fact, recent title challenger, Alex Lohore (17-4), was among those who had to settle for a place on the prelims so that he could get a fight in before the summer. ‘Da Killa Kid’ looks to bounce back after he fell short in his interim title fight back in March by taking out surging welterweight, Aaron Khalid (9-4-1).
Following a 2-0 start to his Cage Warriors career with both victories coming by knockout, Lohore was given the opportunity to travel into enemy territory to challenge Nicolas Dalby for the interim belt. There was a cracking atmosphere inside the K.B Hallen, Copenhagen as a partisan crowd cheered on their hometown hero, hoping that he would be able to raise gold in front of them. During the fight, Dalby stayed light on his feet while throwing a variety of strikes at a high volume whereas Lohore remained more static so that he could load up on his shots. The Dane moved in and out of distance seamlessly but got caught occasionally when getting too aggressive which demonstrated Lohore’s ability to get good shots off if given the chance.
However, the end came in the fourth round as Dalby dropped Lohore early with a left high kick before pushing forward and landing a picture-perfect left hand that spun Lohore’s head in the opposite direction to his body. Although Lohore acknowledged that Dalby fought a good fight, he believes the defeat was down to him straying from his usual game and not being active enough with his own offense.
“The Dalby fight was a great learning curve for me,” said Lohore. “Nothing he brought surprised me as he has been fighting the same way for a long time. He didn’t really bring anything new to the bout: just very accurate and basic stuff. The problem all came from me. I froze in there and was overthinking instead of being loose and letting my shots go. Any suggestion that I underestimated him is incorrect. We never underestimate anyone that steps into the cage and fight, especially a UFC veteran. It would have been stupid of me to do that.”
As all good fighters do, Lohore and his team evaluated the loss but didn’t believe that any changes were needed to his camp. He admitted that adjustments were needed which have been implemented in the lead up to this coming contest but his downfall in March was pretty much solely down to his own actions on fight night.
The 29-year-old has a fascinating backstory that all began when he was growing up in France with his mother. During his childhood, Lohore was a keen footballer and played to a decent standard alongside current Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, Moussa Sissoko. However, after getting into trouble on the street, his mother sent him to the UK so he could put all of that behind him and start with a clean slate. It was only then that he found MMA and hasn’t looked back since as it gave him an avenue and hobby to channel all of his energy into.
Lohore worked his way up the regional scene until he was given his first major opportunity by Bellator in 2017. He went 2-0 in the promotion, seeing off Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher and Dan Vinni by stoppage, before claiming the BAMMA welterweight title in September of that year after knocking out Nathan Jones with a brutal knee. Lohore lost his title to Terry Brazier the following year and then made the move over to the stacked Cage Warriors welterweight division. He has experienced working for many different promotions and said that Cage Warriors have treated him well so far even though he doesn’t really care about politics outside of the cage.
“Overall, Cage Warriors have been good even though they have their favourites like all promotions,” stated Lohore. “I don’t let that kind of thing get to me though. I am only here to win fights and put on a show, regardless of all of the other stuff.”
His opponent on Saturday night, Aaron Khalid, hasn’t had the best run of luck over the last few months. The Welshman was supposed to fight at Cage Warriors 104 in Cardiff against UK MMA pioneer, Tom ‘Kong’ Watson, but the fight dropped off of the card when Watson’s pre-fight medicals raised a few potential problems the day before the bout. However, he finally gets the chance to compete on Saturday looking to claim a victory that would put him right among the best in his division. Khalid is on a three fight winning streak which have all come by stoppage and has only lost in Cage Warriors to current champion, Ross Houston.
Six of Khalid’s nine professional wins have come by submission but this isn’t something that particularly worries Lohore as he trains his grappling at both Aeon BJJ and Mandala BJJ. Both of those gyms are run by great black belts who are well known in the BJJ industry so Lohore is confident in his ability to combat what Khalid will bring on the ground. The Frenchman, who now lives in London, is grateful to have the chance of competing in front of his local friends and fans on a card headlined by a title clash in his weight class. He predicts that Nicolas Dalby will come out on top in the main event but admitted that Ross Houston shouldn’t be written off. Either way, the man who has finished 14 of his 17 professional wins is looking to jump straight back into the title picture with a victory.
“Aaron Khalid is a great opponent due to the fact that he is getting me back into contention for the belt,” claimed Lohore. “He still has a lot to learn and I will show that I am on a different level to him. It’s simple. I expect he will try to take me down and work for the submission but he is in for a big surprise. He could well get finished before we even hit the ground. Khalid is either getting knocked out or submitted in the first round. I’m not coming to play and waste time!”
Cage Warriors 106: Night of Champions can be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from 4pm on Saturday evening.
Image courtesy of Dolly Clew.