By Alistair Hendrie
Liverpool’s Molly McCann takes centre stage on Saturday night, as she aims to take full advantage of local support when she faces Bryony Tyrell for the vacant Cage Warriors flyweight title in the main event at Cage Warriors 90. The proud scouser, who has spoken out against knife crime and bullying in her local area, is an ardent Everton fan and has built a reputation in her hometown for her exciting fights and measured aggression.
Embodying the Next Generation style of working behind the jab, McCann sets her attacks up beautifully and disrupts the rhythm with teep kicks and low kicks. Now 3-1 as a pro, she weathered early takedowns against Priscilla de Souza in October 2017 to tee off with strikes from the outside and earn a lopsided decision.
Funnily enough, McCann used to compete out of Ippon in Bournemouth. It was back then that she frequently trained with Tyrell, who resides 45 minutes from Bournemouth at Exiles MMA in Southampton. Tyrell has a background in striking and clinched the BCMMA and 360 strawweight titles in her early career, shutting out her opponents with a blend of kicks and timely takedowns. She works diligently from back mount, and looked impressive in drawing with Lanchana Green and stopping Jade Barker-Morge with a succession of ground-and-pound.
Although Tyrell claims she is on friendly terms with McCann, that should go out of the window once the cage door shuts. Expect ‘Meatball’ McCann to push the pace and work from the outside. Her best chance of glory would be to back Tyrell against the fence and slowly but surely break her down. She’ll be able to do that if she sticks to her jab and mixes up her kicks. However, Tyrell is a decent striker herself, and could find inroads though strikes to the head and body. I do feel, though, that McCann’s aggression and youth will help her grab a world title on home turf.
Speaking of titles, Alexander Jacobsen had a shot at lightweight gold at Cage Warriors 88 against Chris Fishgold. Eventually, the Norwegian tapped to a rear naked choke after shipping a barrage of pressure, but Jacobsen returns in Saturday’s co-main event against Liverpool’s Lawrence Fitzpatrick.
Although Jacobsen is happy to walk through punishment to land his own blows, his takedowns are especially powerful. He drives his opponents across the cage, scoring a range of trips, throws and double-leg drives. He boasts power in each fist and is particularly adept at punching around the guard from top position.
Fitzpatrick, though, is another excellent wrestler. Sharpening his skills on the north-west scene, the scouser is more than capable of dominating from half guard and side control. He owns a rear naked choke over the former Pride and Cage Rage maverick, Charles ‘Krazy Horse’ Bennett, and holds three submissions and three knockouts on his 6-1 ledger.
I feel it’s time for Fitzpatrick to step up to the best in Europe, and of course Jacobsen represents a move in the right direction. This bout will come down to who can dictate the pace and Fitzpatrick could earn the win if he scores an early takedown and works intelligently for the submission.
Also on the main card, Liverpool’s Echo Arena crowd will brace itself for fireworks as another local, heavyweight Shawn Kenny, goes up against Germany’s Ruben Wolf. Kenny is a true throwback who loves trading in the pocket. The Next Generation stand-out was in frightening form in April 2017, cutting down Cian Erraught with a volley of knees and punches. Wolf is no slouch, though, carving out an 11-10 career in which he’s defeated UFC fighter James Mulheron and also snapped up the Made 4 The Cage title. Kenny is nevertheless one of the hottest prospects in the north-west and should have too much variety for the visitor.
In a sign of the times, Liverpool’s darling Paddy Pimblett opens up the main card against Alexis Savvidis, having scaled up to lightweight after dropping his 145lbs title to Nad Narimani. ‘The Baddy’ throws up some of the most opportunistic jiu jitsu attacks in the British scene, showing deft back-takes and guard passes to rack up six submission wins amongst his 13-2 ledger.
On the other hand, Savvidis explodes forward with wheel kicks and a plethora of spinning attacks. Think Cub Swanson, only even more unpredictable – yes, he’s that exciting. Both men put themselves at risk in order to get the W, and credit should go to matchmaker Ian Dean for creating a lovely stylistic match-up. I’ll stick my neck on the line and pick Paddy.
On the undercard, Next Generation’s slick grappler Elliot Jenkins will aim to climb the lightweight ladder against Josh Abraham. Working on the mat with a poker face to rival Gunnar Nelson, Jenkins attacks the limbs in a cerebral manner and should be a good bet for a submission victory. Abraham, though, is an all-action kind of fighter and rolls with the scrambles beautifully. A jiu jitsu war looks likely.
The rest of the undercard takes shape with a trio of welterweight scraps. Tall striker Matthew Stanton will look to assert his range of kicks against Mick Stanton, while Bobby Pallet tackles Dillon Manning and Andreas Tricomitis squares off with Mark Kinsella. Finally, extra value is provided on the night with a full amateur card, showcasing local hopes such as Jay Seddon and Jordan Baxter.
Stay tuned to Alistair Hendrie Sport for all the reaction after what promises to be an exciting night of fights in Liverpool.