The show began with lightweight action as Brad Wheeler went up against Mansour Barnaoui.
Barnaoui put in a tremendous performance here. As soon as he caught Wheeler’s opening kick it was obvious he was going to dominate. And dominate he did, taking Wheeler’s back in the first round and going for a rear naked choke. It was only Wheeler’s sound defensive skills that stopped him from going down.
Barnaoui finally took the win he was looking for in the third. Wheeler tried to unload with the heavy leather but had very little effect, and as the fight entered it’s final minute the Frenchman took Wheeler’s back once again and synched in the rear naked choke for the submission win.
It was down to flyweight for the next fight as Casey Dyer took on Phil Harris.
This was another encounter that featured some great ground work. Dyer, a beanpole of a man, had a six inch height advantage. But that meant nothing in the striking department when Harris quickly took him to the ground.
Harris put in some good offensive work but often found himself on the end of some good defensive work from Dyer, whose long limbs came in handy at times, especially when he tried to attack.
Dyer’s best moment came in the third when he connected with a couple of knees that opened up a nasty cut above Harris’ left eye. The referee stopped the action so the damage could be checked, and although things didn’t look that good Harris was allowed to finish the fight.
But as the fight went the distances the judges came into play as Harris to the decision.
Tournament action followed as the women’s super flyweight tournament began, the first semi-final featuring Jennifer Maria against Sheila Gaff.
The blink and you’ll miss it affair of the evening saw Maria come out with her hand extended, looking as if she wanted to touch gloves. Gaff immediately caught her with a right. Ten seconds later Gaff connected with another right that sent the Brazilian crashing to the ground. The referee immediately called a halt to the proceedings, giving Gaff the TKO win.
Then it was on to the middleweight fight between Kyle Baker and Lucio Linhares.
Both fighters showed great sportsmanship throughout what was mainly a striking battle. Baker caught Linhares with some hard body shots in the first round, looking the better of the two as the round came to an end.
By the time the third round started Baker looked exhausted as Linhares took control. Linhares was able to easily out-strike him, although Baker managed to get the brief takedown late on.
Once again the judges were called into action as they gave their decision to Linhares.
The penultimate fight saw welterweight action as Assan Njie taking on Stevie Ray.
No feeling out period in this one. Ray went for a Superman punch straight of the bat, only to find himself on the receiving end of a takedown. From there Njie controlled the fight. Ray put in some good defensive work at times, but it wasn’t enough to stop Njie putting in a good shift, going for a guillotine towards the end of the first round.
The end came in the second. Njie scored with the takedown once again, and after moving from the guard to side control he soon moved into a position where he could apply the guillotine choke for the submission win.
The main event saw Mike Hayes taking on Andreas Kraniotakes for the Heavyweight title.
An entertaining battle saw Kraniotakes putting in a good performance in the first round, controlling the action with a clinch against the cage before scoring with the takedown late on.
But from the second round onwards Hayes took control, scoring with a takedown of his own and putting in some good work of his own. It was pretty much the same in the third round, where his work looked even better as he moved into a position where he could lock in an inverted triangle, eventually getting the submission win with a kimura.
In conclusion - Cage Warriors’ history making event, the first ever in Dubai, was a very enjoyable affair. Every fight delivered, once again showing that you don’t always have to watch the big American promotions for an entertaining show.
However, I did feel a little disappointed with the overall television coverage. Out of the six fights shown the second round was cut from four of them. There wasn’t even brief highlights from those rounds, which made getting the overall feel for the fights quite difficult.
I understand that they had to be cut because of time constraints but I would rather have seen a whole fight cut from the broadcast entirely than to see entire rounds missing.
But despite this minor annoyance I’m going to give Cage Warrior Fight Night 4 the thumbs up for everything else.