Jim Alers knew how important a Cage Warriors title could wind up being for his career. Now he’ll get to see where it takes him.
Alers stopped Joni Salovaara with a fourth-round armbar to win the featherweight title at Cage Warriors 53. The title was vacated by Conor McGregor, who also was the lightweight champ, when he signed with the UFC and made a big impression a week ago in his debut.
The event took place Saturday at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. The main card streamed on MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) following prelims on Facebook.
Salovaara threw punches early, but Alers stayed right in the pocket and worked in quick jabs. Thirty seconds in, he got inside, ate a couple punches to get there, but scooped up Salovaara for a takedown. Alers looked to drop elbows from half guard, then passed nicely to side control.
Ninety seconds into the fight, Alers masterfully passed to full mount, keeping pressure on Salovaara with his hips and shoulders. Salovaara tried to roll out and hip escape, but Alers took his back with ease with three minutes left, looking for a rear-naked choke.
Salovaara rolled out, but Alers got his left arm under the chin. It looked like the end was near for Salovaara, but he defended and even got back to his hands and knees for a moment trying to kick Alers off. Moments later, Alers landed some ground and pound before taking Salovaara’s back again.
In the second, Alers again kept the pace on the feet. But on the ground, the pace slowed with Alers on top and referee Marc Goddard stood the two up for the final 40 seconds.
Midway through the third, Alers again dragged Salovaara to the canvas. Salovaara gave up his back and Alers jumped quickly on looking for the rear-naked choke again. Alers landed some good ground and pound to soften his opponent up. But again, Salovaara played good defense, and for the final 40 seconds of the round he was on top – though not able to do much.
Alers quickly brought the fight to the ground in the fourth, but Salovaara nicely reversed to get on top. Alers went after a triangle choke from his back, but Salovaara passed to side control as Alers appeared to be wearing down. But Alers got a good reset to the feet after a prolonged period of little activity.
Back standing, though, Salovaara quickly got a takedown, and it proved to be his final undoing. He fell right into Alers’ latest triangle attempt, and this one a good one. Alers got an armbar, though, and after torquing once, he recranked and forced Salovaara to tap at the 3:43 mark of the fourth.
“It means the world,” Alers said of the title. “My first fight was for Cage Warriors USA. Ten fights later, I’m fighting for the title. I always feel I have the advantage, but he’s real tough. I had a lot of good positions (early) but couldn’t finish the fight.
“He hit a good switch and put me on my back. I held on a little bit and went for the triangle, but once I locked up my feet, I knew I had it. I just went for any armlock.”
Alers (10-1), a 26-year-old who trains in Orlando, Fla., now has won six straight and improved to 5-0 under the Cage Warriors banner. Salovaara (12-6) had a three-fight win streak snapped with the loss.
Calderwood gets TKO before heading back to Invicta
Joanne Calderwood‘s likely last fight for Cage Warriors was a successful one. Calderwood has a deal with Invicta Fighting Championship, including two wins already for the promotion, and she made her Cage Warriors swan song count with a first-round TKO win over Sally Krumdiack.
Krumdiack and Calderwood traded early. But it was Calderwood’s kicks that seemed to keep Krumdiack’s power striking at bay – though the American was able to sneak a few punches in that Calderwood would later say she felt.
A Calderwood kick midway through the round stunned Krumdiack, though, and as she was spinning around, Calderwood was quickly in and landing punches, including an uppercut that put Krumdiack on the canvas. From there, it was all instinct for Calderwood, who swarmed and got the stoppage at the 3:08 mark of the first round.
“I hope I’ve got a black eye – I felt it land,” Calderwood said before giving a shout out to her training partners and her hometown Glasgow crowd. “It’s all part of the game – keeping it fun, changing it up and hopefully entertaining the fans.”
Calderwood (6-0) stayed unbeaten and picked up her fourth knockout win. Krumdiack (9-7) lost her third straight and fourth in five fights.
Nilsson grinds out decision; Ball submits Cooledge
Middleweight Mats Nilsson needed 15 minutes, but he was able to keep control of Chris Scott for much of the fight on his way to a unanimous decision.
The two traded early, but 40 seconds in, Nilsson scooped Scott up for a takedown and went to work on top. Nilsson got to half-guard, but Scott recovered to full guard. Nilsson, though, was too strong and controlled the first round with relative ease.
Scott found some success early in the second with his striking game, but Nilsson soon tied him up and got the fight back to the canvas.
Scott tried to rally in the third, getting inside to dirty box with Nilsson, who appeared to be tiring. But Nilsson managed to sneak a punch through and stunned Scott, who crumpled along the cage. He recovered as the referee warned him to fight back, and soon was back to his feet and appeared to be unfazed.
“I got the win, which I wanted and worked for, but it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to,” Nilsson said. “I was hoping to showcase some evolved striking, but the ring rust got the better of me and I went back to what I knew. I wanted to entertain a bit more; I did the best I could.”
In a lightweight bout, Jason Cooledge tried early to get the fight to the ground, but Jason Ball wasn’t having any of it. He eventually got his takedown, but Ball expertly reversed it, spun around to take his back, got a hook in and very quickly had a rear-naked choke that Cooledge had to tap from.
“I kind of guessed he’d try to shoot in,” Ball said. “I was hesitant to throw my shots, knowing that’s what he was going to do. But I worked it from there and got what I wanted. Speed helped me a lot in that one. Speed and knowledge got me out of any trouble.”
Ball (20-11) won for the second straight time, both by first-round submission. Cooledge (7-4) had a two-fight win streak snapped.
Seery, Pennington get finishes to open main card
In the second fight of the main card, Neil Seery made his presence known in a big way. Paul Marin got a good Thai clinch and landed a solid knee early, then continued to back it up with punches, cutting Seery open.
But out of nowhere, Seery landed a left kick to the ribs. Marin backed up, then grabbed his midsection before doubling over in pain. Seery paused for a beat – perhaps surprised at Marin’s response. But then he quickly moved in and landed several rights on the ground to get the stoppage.
“I knew he was going to come out to strike with me,” Seery said. “He hits hard. The game plan was to stand on my feet and go from there. It’s the first time I’ve let (the kick) go here (at Cage Warriors), and I pulled it off.”
Seery (12-9) won for the third straight time, all for Cage Warriors, and improve to 4-1 for the promotion. Marin (5-3) dropped his second straight after a tough fight against Paul McVeigh a month ago at Cage Warriors 52 that earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
To open the main card, James Doolan and James Pennington scrapped early, trading punches and kicks. But about 90 seconds in, Pennington took the first upper-hand of the fight, landing an uppercut that put Doolan on his back. Doolan collected himself, though, and displayed a good guard game. But moments later, Pennington landed an elbow to the back of Doolan’s head and had a point taken away.
In the second, Pennington opened up his striking, landing several big punches in the first minutes, and controlled most of the round. But in the third, he went to work quickly. When Doolan pressured him on the fence, Pennington jumped guard, quickly latched onto an armbar and Doolan was forced to tap just 29 seconds into the frame.
“James Doolan is a quality fighter,” Pennington said. “The game plan was just to get in there and go with the flow. We wanted to take him down and stay on top of him. We kind of knew what was going to happen.
Pennington (7-1) is back in the win column after a loss this past July snapped his six-fight streak to open his career. Doolan (17-9-2), fighting in front of his home Scotland crowd, now has dropped two of three and four of his past six.
The full Cage Warriors 53 results included:
- Jim Alers def. Joni Salovaara via submission (armbar) – Round 4, 3:43 – to win vacant featherweight title
- Joanne Calderwood def. Sally Krumdiack via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:08
- Mats Nilsson def. Chris Scott via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jason Ball def. Jason Cooledge
- Neil Seery def. Paul Marin via TKO (kick, punches) – Round 1, 1:22
- James Pennington def. James Doolan via via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 0:29
For more on Cage Warriors 53, stay tuned to the MMA Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Jim Alers and Joni Salovaara)