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.
No-one knew what to expect when Paul Marin and Andy Young locked horns at Cage Warriors 70 in Dublin. Marin had the reputation for being an exciting wrestler though his record in the organisation sat at 2-3. Young, on the other hand, had only fought once in Cage Warriors and lost too. Even the most optimistic of people wouldn't have guessed that this fight would be spoken about 8 years later as one of the best in the history of Cage Warriors.
The opening round would set a precedent for the remainder of the fight. Both men exchanged rapid combinations and fought at a high-octane pace. Marin leaned heavily on his jab and calf kick while Young threw heavy, looping shots on the counter.
Just as Young started to get a read on Marin's calf kicks - routinely dropping his arm to catch the leg of the Romanian Greco-wrestler - Marin changed course and thumped Young with a head kick and followed up with a swift right hand that dropped the Northern Irish fighter. Within seconds, Young was somehow back on his feet and willingly exchanging in the pocket once more.
One minute after getting dropped, Young found himself back on the canvas - another crisp right-hand from Marin. Most fighters probably would have called it quits or found themselves in a world of trouble. Not Young, though. Much like the first knockdown, the minute he hit the canvas he rocketed right back up to his fight. His toughness, still to this day, is truly mind-blowing.
Despite hitting the canvas twice, Young's explosiveness was intact as he tackled Marin to the ground at the end of the first round.
Marin's sharpness would continue to cause Young trouble. Just a few seconds into the second round, Marin evaded a flurry of strikes from Young and cracked him with a short right-hook on the counter. Young went crashing down yet again but, this time, Marin followed him. After a few crushing strikes on the ground, Young scrambled out of danger and returned to his feet.
Going into the fight, Marin's often discussed fan-friendly style stemmed from his wrestling. He wasn't just grabbing a single or double leg to get opponents down: he was lifting them over his head and slamming them. Young would be the next victim of his less than a minute after getting dropped as Marin clutched both hands behind his knees and took him for a ride. Cage Warriors commentator Brad Wharton affectionately named the move "Marin Airlines" which is just brilliant. If you've been reading along closely, it will come as no surprise when I say that Young scrambled back to his feet almost instantaneously.
With just a couple of minutes left in the round, Young started to press Marin with an array of strikes. Despite getting dropped three times and slammed on his back not long after, Young could be seen throwing spinning hook kicks and flying knees. The latter of which grazed Marin's head as he began to fade. As he noticed his opponent start to wilt, Young forced Marin to the fence and clobbered him with a left hook that rocked the Romanian. Momentum had shifted in a huge way. Young worked the double leg and took Marin down to end the round on top.
As the camera panned to both corners, a relatively unscathed Marin could be seen breathing heavily while a significantly battered and bruised Young looked raring to go.
The third round saw Young repeatedly take down Marin and punish him with strikes on the ground - including some well-placed knees to the body of his opponent. The high pace of the fight was unrelenting. Even though Marin had visibly faded, he was still cracking Young with jab after jab. Young, however, simply walked through the strikes in order to get Marin back to the ground. He continued to succeed.
What was so striking about this fight is that not only did Young survive all of those knockdowns, but he also out-wrestled a guy who had been wrestling since he was a kid.
The fight ended with Young following Marin to the ground, only to get caught by a double up-kick just as the referee separated the action.
The scorecards all leaned 29-28 to Marin which is more than fair as he dominated the first 9-10 minutes of the fight. All these years later, I still wish we'd somehow gotten an extra round.
Although Marin and Young haven't gone on to have the most notable careers, Young seems to be on the cusp of returning to MMA after a 3-year hiatus while Marin appears to have retired with a respectable record of 12-8.
The fight is available on UFC Fight Pass for those subscribed to the service: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/45279/paul-marin-vs-andy-young-cage-warriors-fc-70
The fight is also available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO3UoHKCDxI