A closer look at the Cage Warriors Flyweight tournament

Following former Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion Jake Hadley signing on for a UFC shot via Dana White’s contender series, today Cage Warriors announced an exciting four man tournament to decide the next 125 lbs king.

On one side of the bracket, Luke Shanks takes on Nicolas Leblond and on the other, Sam Creasey will take on Aaron Aby. Both first round tournament bouts will take place this weekend.

Let’s take a closer look at the four men challenging for the Cage Warriors strap. 

Luke Shanks (7-2-0)

‘The Apocalypse’ is no stranger to Cage Warriors gold. Following impressive victories over Jason Jenkins, Pietro Manga under the Cage Warriors banner, Shanks stepped up to face the champion, Samir Faiddine at Cage Warriors 114. The Higher Level athlete produced another gritty, tenacious performance and after dominating Faiddine for 25 minutes, was crowned the new Cage Warriors champion.

Shanks’ first title defence arrived 3 months later, at Cage Warriors 117. He faced fellow rising star Jake ‘White Kong’ Hadley. Shanks found himself on the wrong side of one of the most one sided scorecards in recent memory, 50-42, 50-45, 50-44 & lost his belt.

Shanks took to Instagram to express his thoughts on the bout, he said: 

F****d it. No excuses. Things I’ll change for the next one. Weight cut killed me. Can’t do a Ricky Hatton and balloon up no more especially with a quick turn around. Also didn’t stick to the plan should of listened, should of played it safe.

Shanks will be keen to prove that the Hadley bout was a bad day at the office and look to claim the title once more.

Nicolas Leblond (6-3-0)

Many will see Nicolas Leblond as the underdog of the Flyweight tournament. Still a relatively new face, this will only be the Frenchman’s third appearance under the Cage Warriors banner.

In his promotional debut, Leblond faced off against fellow tournament contender, Sam Creasey at Cage Warriors 116. Although not the performance Leblond would have wanted, he showed he was not out of his depth, taking tough veteran Creasy to a decision.

With the result not playing out the way he hoped, Leblond was back in the cage at Cage Warriors 122, looking to right the wrongs of his debut. In an extremely entertaining, back and forth clash with Darren O’Gorman, Leblond showed the power he possesses, sending Gorman crashing to the mat out cold, with a vicious left hand.

The Flyweight will be looking to join the likes of his fellow countrymen Morgan Charriere & Medhi Ben Lakhdhar in leading the way for French MMA across Europe; and a flyweight title would certainly assist him in establishing his name as one of France’s top prospects.

Sam Creasey (13-3-0)

Sam ‘Urai’ Creasy has been at the upper echelon of the European Flyweight scene for a number of years. ‘Urai’ is also one of Cage Warriors’ longest serving athletes, having fought under the promotional banner for 5 years, amassing an impressive 8-3-0 record in that time.

The tournament won’t be the first chance Creasey has had at the belt. In 2018, he faced Nathan Greyson for the vacant title. Many had Creasey two rounds to the good and just needing to see the final round out, before he was savagely stopped with a barrage of strikes in the third by ‘Violent Money’. 15 months & 2 victories later, ‘Urai’ had battled his way back to a title shot, this time, against Frenchman Samir Faiddine. In the 3rd roundCreasey was caught with a right hand, which sent him stumbling to the mat. Faiddine followed up with a couple of strikes and the referee had seen enough.

Never one to be deterred, Creasey was back in the cage twice last year with 2 big wins in 2020, against Nicolas Leblond & Adam Amarasignhe. Those victories have fired him back into a prime position for a third shot at Cage Warriors gold.

Creasey’s cage experience is unrivaled in the tournament and he will no doubt be looking to use the years spend developing his craft to finally achieve the flyweight belt.

Aaron Aby (11-3-1)

Aaron Aby personifies a fighting spirit. Suffering from cystic fibrosis, the Welshman faced an uphill battle to live a ‘normal’, everyday life from the outset; let alone become one of the top Flyweights in the UK.

At the age of 16, Aby took up MMA having previously practiced karate in his younger years.  Juggling his professional football career and the strenuous training regime that accompanies being a mixed martial artist, Aby eventually opted to leave the pitch for the cage and in 2013, made his professional debut.

After establishing himself in the Flyweight division with a 7-2-0 record, Aby signed with ACB in 2017. He had an extremely active year, competing three times and securing three big victories over Connor Hignett, Sam Haliday and Daniel Missin. Hitting the form of his life, Aby was forced to take a 2 year hiatus from the sport when he was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. 
Aby made his miraculous return to the sport in December 2019, drawing against Darly Grant on UK Fighting Championships 12. He returned to winning ways 2 months later with a unanimous decision victory over Mohamed Gamal.

The MMA Academy man will be hoping to make a big statement in his Cage Warriors debut and fire himself into the final of the tournament.