Rewind to 7th June 2014 at the HMV Forum in London. Cage Warriors launched Super Saturday, an event which had two main cards throughout the night and was headlined by a Lightweight battle between Stevie Ray and Curt Warburton to crown the promotions new Lightweight Champion. It was a rematch of their first encounter (which took place in March 2013) and this time it was Stevie Ray who come up trumps and won a split decision victory which not only saw him pick up the vacant Lightweight strap but also bring the feud to one a piece.
Now only 147 days later we will get to see the trilogy put to bed as the two are scheduled to headline Cage Warriors 73. It did strike me as a surprise that the third fight would come so soon after Super Saturday. Now don’t get me wrong I wholeheartedly agree with the need for these two 155lbers to scrap it out for a third and final time but I would have liked to see them both have another fight or two in between. Something inside of me wants the feud to be built up a bit more and I don’t think we have had enough time for that to really happen.
This may be a selfish way of looking at it, but for me given how rare trilogies are in the UKMMA scene, now that we have a truly back and forth competitive situation which clearly warrants the three fight rule that we should try to preserve it as much we can. Also to me it seems that there is some real heat between these two guys which could be worked on and perhaps it’s just the pro-wrestling fan inside me but some extra time to work on building the feud would for me certainly add to the tension building up to this third fight.
So how do I see this third fight playing out? Well in my eyes and from watching the fight back twice I definitely think Ray won the second fight and for me it come down to him being just one step ahead of Warburton at every encounter. If Warburton was throwing a punch, Ray was already thinking about getting out the way. If Warburton checked a kick, Ray was already teeing up another. So for me it was totally justifiable to award him the decision. Do I think much would have changed for either of them by the time they fight again? Probably not a great deal in terms of technique but you can bet your bottom dollar that their team mates/coaches are sick to the back teeth of re-watching the second fight and trying to pick out the intricate details which will give their man a small advantage on fight night. And it could be something so small which alters the outcome of this next fight.
I see this fight playing out very similarly to the second fight with the winner gaining victory by a very tight margin. If I was a betting man I would have to back Ray given his performance at Cage Warriors 69 but Warburton is a seasoned veteran and we all know that you should never count anyone out in MMA. I definitely am intrigued to see how much both men can improve since the last fight!
Im sure there are a million reasons why the Cage Warriors team have decided to put this fight on so soon after their last one with a few key points springing to mind. Card is in Newcastle which is where Warburton is from, both guys are fit and healthy and let’s be honest the last fight was pretty close and if we leave it for too long the fight might not take place under the Cage Warriors banner. But could they have waited a bit longer for this one? It’s not like there isn’t a small army of Lightweights knocking on the door of Ian Dean/Graham Boylan for a pop at the gold.
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