Oktagon 52 Preview; Mågård v Cartwright, Frimpong and Herczeg return

Oktagon are back with their first show of the year and their debut on Tyneside on Saturday. Newcastle’s Utilita Arena will host Oktagon 52 as the promotion continues to make their mark in the U.K. There will be ten fights on the card.

Jack Cartwright (11-1) and his iconic rat’s tail haircut is a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion, defending that strap three times before an unsuccessful Contender Series attempt. The 29-year-old impressed in his OKMMA debut in Manchester last November with a first round anaconda choke win. The Bolton man is a finisher, he packs huge power for the weight in his hands and his submission game is some of the best in the division. The SBG Manchester man is a prolific finisher. Jonas Mågård (15-6) is a man of similar championship stature and is a former OKMMA and FEN Bantamweight champion. The Dane has also competed for BAMMA and Cage Warriors, so this is a battle of two top U.K. scene bantams. The 31-year-old is a good boxer who really excels in the submission game, and a particular expert in the Japanese necktie. The Manchester Top Team man has been defeated a few times by submission in the past so has to beware of that aspect. Huge bragging rights on the line here.

Matthew Bonner (16-9-1) is another former Cage Warriors champion in action, his coming at middleweight. The Warrington man has really upped the level of his game in the last few years after a shaky start to his career, and he’s now a very well rounded fighter. The Next-Gen Liverpool man is a great wrestler who will do anything to take your back. The 33-year-old is also  powerful in the boxing exchanges, however his aim on Saturday will be to get it down. Matěj “Money” Peňáz (8-1) is one of the best martial artists from his country and his only defeat came on the Contender Series. The Czech is a Muay Thai specialist who tenderises opponents like they’re pieces of meat. The 27-year-old is going to jab you like it’s flu season and generally you’ll suffer the side effects. This man is a quality get for this Newcastle card.

Aaron Aby (15-8-1) is an inspirational character who’s defied all odds to get where he is. The former Cage Warriors standout has overcome cancer and cystic fibrosis to put together a great career. The Welshman is a very good submission player with a mean choke game. Decisions have generally gone against him lately so he’ll want to be on the front foot here. Christopher Daniel (9-3-1) is a Bellator veteran making his Oktagon debut. The 33-year-old is a submission specialist with an eclectic array of holds. His last knockout is coming up to four years ago.

Stuart Austin (17-8) is a former BAMMA heavyweight champion and holds a win over Tom Aspinall, as well as being a Bellator and PFL veteran. Like many of his size, the Englishman can knock out a horse and has won eight by way of strikes. The 35-year-old is a judoka so his grappling game cannot be dismissed, and he’s got four submission wins. Adam Pałasz (9-2) is a man you’d call if you wanted to demolish a building with bare hands. “Adaś z Jawora” hits things and they fall down. The Wrocław man has an 89% finish rate, with just the one coming from submission. The Pole is one of the most exciting heavyweights in Europe.

Corey Fry (5-1) is like an MMA greyhound, as soon as the traps open he’s off to the races. If you last two minutes striking with the Englishman, you’ve outdone most of his opponents. He didn’t get the knockout in his Oktagon debut against boxer Deniz Ilbay, but he did get a nice armbar submission early. Do not blink. Max Holzer (6-0) will come in with bags of confidence due to his undefeated record. The German is also a finisher, albeit taking his time a little bit more. The 22-year-old is a submission threat and he can latch onto a choke from any position.

Denis Frimpong (1-2) will partially represent the Dublin Combat Academy on Saturday. The 29-year-old is a submission threat who works his striking with the acclaimed Collie Mahon, so has been making great strides there. Jan Široký (13-16) is a journeyman and a ten-fight veteran in Oktagon. Striking is his main danger, with a solid boxing game. He’s also won three via submission.

Nathan Haywood (3-1) is a local lad competing on the card, hailing from nearby Durham. The 26-year-old trains out of Team Fish Tank, a room full of quality fighters. The English IMMAF veteran has a wicked guillotine and is decent on the feet. Roman Paulus (8-4) has had all but one of his bouts under the Oktagon banner. The Slovakian is more of a decision merchant, with a good all round game. The finishing touch has deserted him of late and he’ll want to get back to his amateur and early pro ways where he can complete his submission attempts and get the pop in his punches.

Eduard Kexel (9-1) is a tough and solid fighter coming out of the German scene. The IMMAF veteran knows how to win, however needs to work in more finishes as the majority of his wins are decisions. When he does threaten within the distance, it’s on the feet. Rafael Hudson (8-6) has a name that wouldn’t look out of place on Tyneside, however he hails from Brazil. The Portuguese based fighter is a submission player with a tidy kickboxing game. He’s a risk taker who’ll go hell for leather to be done within fifteen minutes.

Armand Herczeg (0-1) is the second Irish representative on the card. The Hungarian born fighter lost his debut in a close split decision to promising Radek Roušal. The Sanda MMA man has a Siam boxing style, however his main finishing threat is in the submission game. “The Crane” has a legit guillotine choke at his disposal. Jake McHugh (1-0) has tasted glory as a pro with his triangle choke win over Ivan Klevets. What we’ve seen from the Englishman so far is a great offensive submission game, finishing all his amateur and pro bouts with a variety of chokes. These two fought each other on the Oktagon Challenge tv show, with Herczeg winning with his patented guillotine.

The YouTube free fight will feature a North-East England prospect Daniel Bainbridge (2-0) who hails from nearby Sunderland so will have cheering fans in the stand. He’s had most of his success on the feet this far. Hamza Dagdeviren (1-1) will stand opposite. They call him “The Postman” as he always delivers. The German is a GAMMA amateur veteran and a well rounded martial artist whose sole win came via guillotine. The 33-year-old has also competed in pro boxing.

Oktagon 52 is live from Newcastle on Saturday night from 17:00 Irish time on Channel 4, Oktagon.tv and DAZN.

Seán Denny is a Dublin man who writes mostly on the European scene, with a keen interest in the Irish, UK and Polish scenes in particular. Follow me on Twitter at @DennyRants.

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