To commemorate Cage Warriors' upcoming 20th year anniversary, I'll be highlighting five of my favourite fights in the organisation's history, throughout the week, leading up to Cage Warriors 141.
At Cage Warriors 57 in 2013, surging prospect Danny Roberts took on a 5-6 Henry Fadipe in front of his adopted home crowd in Liverpool. Fadipe accepted the fight on a few days' notice after Roberts' original opponent - Aldric Cassata - pulled out due to injury.
Fadipe, despite the glaringly bad record, was undefeated in the Cage Warriors promotion having knocked out Charlie Watts in his promotional debut. Make no mistake about it, though: Fadipe was brought in to be a lamb to the slaughter; a desperate attempt to hold this card together and keep the co-main event intact. Roberts was 8-1, had three finishes in a row under the Cage Warriors banner and had only just fought a couple of months prior.
What ensued was a back-and-forth scramble-fest that referee Marc Goddard would go on to call one of his favourite fights of 2013. This was high praise from a man who, in that very same year, had overseen Brian Stann x Wanderlei Silva and Carlos Condit x Johny Hendricks.
The opening round saw more action on the feet than the rest of the rounds combined. And they only spent around two minutes in striking range at that. Roberts dominated proceedings on the feet, landing some thumping calf kicks that forced Fadipe to switch stances momentarily.
Despite the technical approach from Roberts, Fadipe had the power advantage and this was obvious the moment he clipped Roberts with a glancing shot that partially wobbled the Brit. From that moment on, Roberts decided it was time to wrestle. Rushing across the cage, Roberts powered into a double leg and lifted Fadipe above his head for an emphatic slam takedown.
Immediately, Roberts worked for a north-south choke that looked all but locked in until Fadipe managed to wriggle his way out and create a scramble that saw him reverse the position into his own submission attempt. With seconds left on the clock, Roberts managed to grab a hold of Fadipe's heel and cranked on it until the horn sounded for the end of the first round.
The two were evenly matched in the first round as they took turns in cancelling one another out. To start the second round, however, Fadipe knew he had to put the pressure on Roberts. He immediately blitzed into a striking combination that ended with a short hook ripping a huge cut between Roberts' eye and nose. Roberts immediately started leaking and shot in for a takedown. Fadipe caught the neck of Roberts and wrapped his arms around for a guillotine attempt that Roberts only managed to break out of by landing another powerful slam takedown.
For a moment, it seemed like the fight would be over. Goddard ordered both fighters to stop moving as he motioned for a doctor to check on Roberts' cut. After much deliberation - and a blood-soaked towel - the doctor deemed that Roberts' cut was not detrimental to his vision and so the fight was allowed to continue.
Resuming the position on the mat, Roberts immediately started to land heavy ground and pound shots to the body and arms of Fadipe. The Nigerian fighter used the rashness of Roberts to force a scramble that saw both fighters return to their fight. Back in striking range, Fadipe started to dominate the fight. He knew that forward pressure was the key to victory and kept hammering away. In surging forward, Fadipe backed Roberts up against the fence, latched onto a front headlock and landed two big knees to the head of Roberts. Through sheer grit and determination, Roberts once again found a way to power through a double leg takedown and get the fight to the mat. The round ended with Fadipe rolling from a kneebar to a heel hook as Roberts looked largely spent.
Somehow, the 5-6 last-minute replacement looked on his way to victory. In between rounds, the corner tried profusely to halt the bleeding from Roberts' cut but, every time they stopped touching it, it would immediately start gushing again. Off the two men would go for another round of unrelenting chaos.
Roberts didn't bother engaging on the feet with Fadipe this time around. He pressed forward, lifted Fadipe off the air and landed his fourth slam takedown of the fight - much to the delight of all the fans crammed inside the Echo Arena. The Brit stacked Fadipe's guard and started to unleash some hellacious ground and pound to the body and head of Fadipe who seemed as though he was starting to wilt. Fadipe tried to roll for a heel hook to create a scramble but Roberts intercepted the move and ended up in mount where he would land strike after strike.
After deciding that he had had enough of Roberts trying to crack his skull open, Fadipe presented his back to Roberts who secured a tight rear-naked choke that put the Nigerian to sleep with just over a minute left in the fight.
Despite all of the blood, despite getting clipped in the first round, Roberts rallied through it all and got the job done in emphatic fashion.
That would be Fadipe's final fight for Cage Warriors however, nine years later, he seems to be back with the promotion after being booked to take on Carlo Pedersoli in 2022. Although the fight fell through, I can only imagine we're likely to see Fadipe don the yellow gloves again soon. The Nigerian also has a winning record of 10-9 nowadays too.
Roberts, on the other hand, would finish a few more fighters in Cage Warriors before getting the illustrious UFC call-up in 2015. He boasts a record of 7-5 in the organisation and recently lost to Francisco Trinaldo.
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the fight here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/45640/danny-roberts-vs-henry-fadipe-cage-warriors-fc-57
The fight is also available on Youtube in three parts but it's a fan who records it from the stands so I'll let you folks seek that one out yourselves.