Soren Bak had to survive a storm of Paddy Pimblett submissions before claiming the vacant Cage Warriors lightweight title in the main event of Cage Warriors 96 in Liverpool, England on Saturday.
Former featherweight champion Pimblett was attempting to become the first person since Conor McGregor to claim two divisional titles under the Cage Warriors banner, but it was Bak who came away with the unanimous decision nod.
In his post-fight interview, Bak admitted that hometown hero, Pimblett, nearly had his number on a few occasions in the first round as he was forced to evade several rear-naked choke attempts.
Despite Pimblett’s utter dominance over the first five minutes, Bak managed to regain his composure at the midpoint of the second round and slowly began to turn the screw.
He forced Pimblett to carry his weight and constantly looked to land shots as he control the action on the ground from top position. On a few occasions, Pimblett looked to employ his patented submission skills, but “The True Viking” was able to stave of his attacks.
Pimblett applauded Bak’s efforts as the decision rang out around the Echo Arena.
In the co-main event, Mick Stanton didn’t get the Rocky Balboa moment he had hoped for after stepping up to face Jonas Billstein for the vacant middleweight title on a day’s notice.
Lee Chadwick was stripped of the title on the scales on Friday after missing weight for his scheduled defense against Billstein.
Hometown fighter Stanton put his best foot forward in the striking exchanges, but was stood little chance against the far-larger Billstein once he brought the fight to the ground. To Stanton’s credit, he valiantly fought out of multiple submission attempts before eventually succumbing to a rear-naked choke.
Jack Grant had to shake the cobwebs off from a sharp right hand from Aleksi Mantykivi before claiming a first round knockout win their lightweight clash.
Grant chased the Finnish fighter down after eating the troubling shot. He landed multiple elbows as he held Mantykivi against the fence and eventually dropped him with a left hand.
With Mantykivi being the only person to have beaten Bak, Grant may have cemented a spot as a championship contender with the win.
Nicolas Dalby put in a vintage performance with his head-kick-knockdown-to-submission finish of Italian welterweight Roberto Allegretti.
Dalby was put under pressure in the final exchanges of the first round, but came out hot for the second. In the first minute of the second, he clipped Allegretti with a head kick. Although the Italian remarkably tried to get back to his feet, he was rendered unconscious shortly after as Dalby went palm-to-palm on a rear-naked choke.
Former BAMMA lightweight champion Tim Barnett will be kicking himself as a fence grab in the last 30 seconds of his fight against Matthew Bonner likely cost him a win in his Cage Warriors debut.
Bonner won the first round with his superior wrestling, but looked drained towards the end of the second. Barnett hammered home his stamina advantage in the third, but forced a pause in the action with 22 seconds left on the clock when he grabbed the fence to keep his balance as Bonner looked to transition. Goddard took a point after explaining to Barnett that it was his third warning.
Two of three judges scored the fight a draw, one scored it in favor of Barnett, resulting in a majority draw result.
Check out the full results for Cage Warriors 96 here.