Despite the growing number of sporting events canceled around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cage Warriors 113 went ahead in Manchester, England, on Friday night, after it was originally scheduled to take place behind closed doors in London at the O2 Arena.
Bartosz Fabinski (15-3) was able to grind out an unlikely upset victory via unanimous decision over Darren Stewart (11-5) in the main event in a meeting of fighters who were originally scheduled for separate preliminary fights on the UFC London undercard.
Stewart, 29, was due to face Marvin Vettori at UFC London on Saturday on the main card, while Fabinski, 33, was scheduled to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov at welterweight on the preliminary card of the same event -- but Fabinski stepped back up to middleweight for Friday's event.
Spectators were still barred from the Manchester BEC Arena, but the event went on without issue as Fabinski was able to take advantage of his judo background to keep Stewart, who was making his return to Cage Warriors, where he made his professional debut, from leaving his sights in a nightmare scenario for the London-born fighter.
Fabinski launched a couple of takedown attempts in the opening round, finding success on his second time of trying. But, as he was taken down, Stewart scored a brutal shot to the back of Fabinski's head with his right elbow, causing blood to come pouring out. The position of the cut meant it was never going to stop the fight, but it led to a series of slippery exchanges.
By the end of the first round, Stewart successfully launched a guillotine choke that threatened to end the fight early on as he was within seconds of forcing a submission when the bell rang. This was to be his final real attempt at winning the bout, as Fabinski went ahead and ground Stewart into the canvas.
With a severely blood-soaked head, Fabinski was able to keep Stewart on his back in a position that the Englishman tried to use to his advantage, edging slowly toward the cage in order to break free and launch an attack. As was the case for the remainder of the fight, Fabinski kept his Stewart down by keeping his opponent's head firmly pinned to the side of the cage.
The win for Fabinski marks a rebound victory after he suffered a first-round defeat to Michel Prazeres in UFC Fight Night 140 in November 2018.
In a lightweight title fight that could have gone the distance, Jones (9-0) did not want to wait for his opportunity to be crowned champion and step up his bid to make his UFC debut.
In what was originally meant to be the main event of the night, Jones earned a victory via TKO over McColgan (6-3-1).
It was a surprise twist when Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan announced that the pair would fight each other for the lightweight title, with both fighters having previously set out to face different opponents.
"That's hard to describe, that was a milestone," Jones said. "Joe was tough but I showed that I am the No. 1 in this division. I started slow but, in the end, I paved my way. I said I'd get him out within two [rounds] and I did."
In a fight that lasted less than a round, neither fighter showed any desire to wait around to strike the first blow. Jones sprang from his corner as the opening-round bell rang and immediately attempted a kick, never bothering to touch gloves. Both traded heavy shots full of intent, but McColgan was unable to unnerve Jones.
McColgan often found himself pressed up against the cage by Jones in an energy-draining endeavor that could have backfired had the contest gone on longer -- it was uncharted territory for both fighters as neither had been in a professional five-round fight before.
So as soon as he saw McColgan was hurt from a punishing combination of blows, Jones pounced to finish the fight and claim the lightweight title. A right hand that was quickly followed by a left forced McColgan to cover up before the Welshman delivered a devastating knee to the body. Then, a number of jackhammer punches to a defenseless McColgan forced referee Rich Mitchell to stop the fight after just a minute and 40 seconds.
David Bear beats Nathan Jones by unanimous decision
In a welterweight bout in which Jones gave everything he had to overtake Bear, his opponent was able to dominate all three rounds on the way to a unanimous decision, scoring his ninth professional victory.
After connecting with a couple of successful kicks, Bear, 29, took the fight to the ground early into the contest and never let off until the bout was over.
With 15 submission victories between the two fighters, both seemed comfortable to fight on the canvas, but Bear (9-1) was able to continually smother his opposite number with an efficient upper-body grapple.
Jones (13-10) entered the final round firmly behind on points and needed to make sure the bout didn't go the distance and he showed as much as the bell rang. Jones delivered a stunning right hand that landed flush on Bear's head, forcing the Frenchman to stumble back, kick-starting ideas of a final-round upset. But Jones was unable to land a second punch to take the advantage, allowing Bear to again take the fight to the ground and lock up his opponent.
Jones again looked to force a win when he was able to break free for just the second time in the fight with 1:30 remaining when he had Bear's hand behind his back, needing to go to the ground, but failed to launch an attack that could have finished the fight.
The defeat leaves Jones with five defeats in his past seven professional fights, while Bear continued to bounce back from his single professional defeat -- a submission defeat to Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi in the Brave Combat Federation in March 2018.
With no spectators present and only the sound of music in the background, former featherweight champion Paddy Pimblett threw his long-desired comeback party in a lightweight bout against Dalton.
It's been a tough 18 months for Pimblett (14-3) since he lost in a title fight against Soren Bak of Denmark in September 2018. Since then, three planned fights against Donovan Desmae fell through to injury, before Joe Giannetti missed weight prior to a later fight. His wait on the sidelines looked to be extended further when his scheduled CW 113 opponent, Davide Martinez, was unable to travel to London because of the restrictions imposed in Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dalton stepped in at the last minute -- his last fight came just 13 days previously against Kalifa Seydi in CC 3 in Ireland, and he was hoping that what he lacked in experience he would more than make up for in fight fitness. In truth, he was an underdog from the beginning.
Dalton suffered a nightmare start as he slipped just seconds into the first round following a missed kick. Pimblett seized the early opportunity and quickly jumped on Dalton, getting the Belfast-born fighter into a tight hold. It was a horrific start that Dalton struggled to recover from and the fight could easily have been over inside the first minute.
Dalton did a good job not to submit earlier, but he could do little to stop Pimblett after the Liverpool-born fighter was able to gain a dominant position on top of him before delivering a barrage of punches to bring the fight to an end by TKO in the first round.