Djati Melan had a dominant performance against Matthew Bonner to win via unanimous decision and become the new Cage Warriors Middleweight Champion on Friday night (49-44, 49-44 & 48-44).
The fight headlined Cage Warriors 131, which took place from York Hall in London. It was the first day of a two-night series that the promotion is holding to end their 2021 schedule.
While Melan found himself in trouble late against Bonner, early rounds by the challenger gave him a lead that secured him a victory.
Melan used wrestling to dominate most of the fight. He completely controlled the first three rounds of the bout, taking Bonner down and using dominant positions to land dozens of punches.
The fight was paused in the third round due to an illegal knee that landed to the head of Bonner. The moment – which could have shifted the entire story of the fight – ended as only a footnote, as Melan was not deducted a point due to the strike.
Bonner’s best moment arguably came late in the fourth round, as he attempted a guillotine choke while being taken down. He quickly lost grip of the submission, remaining on his back for the rest of the round after.
Bonner connected with punches in the final round, but that momentum was eventually stopped by yet another takedown from Melan. Bonner had another rush of shots in the final minute of the fight, causing Melan to back peddle with his arms down in a tense final few moments.
Melan entered Friday’s main event with an undefeated record of seven wins. He was making his first appearance since late 2019 when he defeated Eslam Abdul Baset on an ARES FC card.
Bonner earned the belt earlier this year, earning a fourth-round rear naked choke submission over previous titleholder Nathias Frederick. The win moved his streak of victories to four consecutive.
Undefeated Duncan Submits Veteran Moore Early
Christian Leroy Duncan scored the biggest win of his career in dominant fashion on Friday, submitting experienced fighter Justin Moore with a rear naked choke.
The win for Duncan was a quick and straightforward performance. After taking Moore down and getting on his back, Duncan landed shots to his head. The fight came to an end after applying a rear naked choke that flattened Moore out and made him tap out.
Duncan now has five wins since turning pro last year.
Moore, a former Bellator fighter, was competing for the first time since early 2020.
Currie Ends Losing Streak Against Zlatev
Damaging blows from Will Currie earned him a win on the main card, defeating promotional newcomer Nikola Zlatev.
Currie was able to hurt Zlatev while on his back, connecting with slicing elbows to the head. Despite being in a top position on the ground, the shots from Currie caused Zlatev to tap, ending the bout.
The win for Currie broke a two-fight losing streak that he developed against undefeated prospect Christian Leroy Duncan earlier in the year.
Zlatev was appearing in Cage Warriors for the first time. He had a three-fight winning streak broken in his prior bout, losing to Kenneth Richardson in August.
Fleminas Stops Elliott With Strikes
Madars Fleminas silenced the crowd on Friday, securing a ground and pound finish over Oban Elliott late in the second round.
Fleminas moved into a full mount in the second round, allowing him to rattle off a long series of punches that eventually made the referee stop the fight.
The crowd was mostly in support of Elliott, who had an audible fanbase in attendance.
The fight put Fleminas back into the win column after losing a contest against Jack Grant earlier this year.
Elliott was riding the momentum of a first-round finish win that he earned over George McManus in September.
Crawford Makes Comeback Over Gittins, Takes Scorecard Nod
Kingsley Crawford made a comeback win against Liam Gittins to open the main card, defeating him via unanimous decision after a three-round striking battle.
Gittins had a hot start to the fight, keeping Crawford against the cage for most of the first round with striking. Gittins was able to hurt Crawford at a point, stunning him briefly with an overhand right.
Crawford turned things around in the second frame, starting to control the striking battle. He was able to hurt Gittins with the same strike that damaged him in the previous round, connecting with a clean overhand right for a knockdown.
The fight was close in the final round, as both bantamweights exchanged with strikes. Crawford got the best of the final round, as all judges gave him it on scorecards.
Crawford secured a win just three months before, submitting Adam Wilson in September.
Gittins is now on a two-fight losing streak. His previous fight, which came just two months back, was a stoppage loss against Gerardo Fanny.
The Rest of the Card
Tom Mearns prevailed in a close battle against Jean N’Doye, taking a split decision victory after a three-round battle. Mearns has now scored two consecutive wins after going on a five-fight skid previously.
Sharp strikes from Luke Riley earned him a quick win on the prelims, putting away Yuki Angdembe in the first round with punches. The 22-year-old now has two wins since turning pro in October.
Samir Kadi prevailed in a back-and-forth war against Michael Tchamou, using ground and pound to secure a finish in the second round.
A grinding performance on the ground from Nik Bagley came to an end in the second round, as he worked towards a rear naked choke submission against Scott Pedersen.
Adam Cullen earned his third consecutive first-round submission win on Friday, catching Mikail Bayram in the first round with a rear naked choke. The victory came exactly a year after Cullen won his pro debut.
Main Card (3:30PM EST / 8:30PM GMT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 10: Djati Melan def. Matthew Bonner via Decision, Unanimous (Cage Warriors Middleweight Championship)
Bout 9: Christian Leroy Duncan def. Justin Moore via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:24)
Bout 8: Will Currie def. Nikola Zlatev via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:19)
Bout 7: Madars Fleminas def. Oban Elliott via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:15)
Bout 6: Kingsley Crawford def. Liam Gittins via Decision, Split
Preliminary Card (2:00PM EST / 7:00PM GMT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 5: Tom Mearns def. Jean N’Doye via Decision, Split
Bout 4: Luke Riley def. Yuki Angdembe via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:19)
Bout 3: Samir Kadi def. Michael Tchamou via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 2:50)
Bout 2: Nik Bagley def. Scott Pedersen via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 1:53)
Bout 1: Adam Cullen def. Mikhail Bayram via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 1:49)