ALL he needed was 40 seconds, but 22-year-old Roberto Soldic finished off Lewis “The Foot” Long at the Newport Arena in Wales with a flashing head kick to announce himself as a genuine threat to the Cage Warriors welterweight title.
The German based Croat took advantage as the Welsh favourite Long dipped in to secure a takedown and unleashed a vicious head kick that saw Long collapse face first to the canvas with the referee thankfully getting in quickly to spare the Pontypridd man from further punishment.
It was Soldic’s first fight under the Cage Warriors banner and he has now put the rest of the division on notice, setting his sights on current champion “The Psycho” Karl Amoussou, who is yet to defend the title he won against Matt Inman back in February.
As for Long it is back the drawing board for the popular Welshman, who slipped to his fourth defeat in Cage Warriors and fifth of his career, but at 28 he has time to re-build and return.
In the welterweight co-main event, Inman looked to build on his win over Brad Wheeler in June, but “The Thundercat” Craig White had other ideas and after he had soaked up some hard knees on the cage, he unloading some powerful punches to get the job done after 2:40 of the first round.
White came out all guns blazing, but Inman marched him back to the cage, throwing knees into the Exmouth man’s mid-section. But, a right hand had the Manchester man and crowd favourite going backwards himself and White refused to let the opportunity pass him by and pressed for the stoppage.
Inman was blocking a lot of the shots, but wasn’t moving his head enough, as he tried to get through the barrage that wasn’t stopping anytime soon. He was rightly warned by the referee, who stepped in quickly to stop the fight, despite Inman’s protestations.
Highly touted featherweight prospect Jack “Tank” Shore continued his stoppage streak, extending it to six in a row as a pro. The 22-year-old Welshman is building a radical following and he flattened the tough Italian Mattia Galbiati after 4:14 of the third round to carry his momentum forward.
Galbiati was dropped in the first after a solid body kick, before a swift right and left put him down, but he battled through, before getting dominated on the ground in the second. Shore kept it on his feet in the third and Galbiati gained a brief moment of celebration as he bloodied the “Tank’s” nose.
But, almost everyone of his kicks were caught by Shore, who then dropped his 31-year-old opponent with a knee from out of nowhere. A hard right hand quickly followed up before the referee quickly got in to ensure Shore’s streak carries on.
Aiden Lee was also victorious on the night, forcing Ludovit Klein to tap out inside the first round of their featherweight contest. The Birmingham secured an early takedown and focused his attention on forcing the Slovak to quit to the Kimura lock.
But, the 9-1 Klein snuffed out plan A, so Lee quickly switched to plan B, taking his back and sinking in a tight rear naked choke, which gave Klein no option but to tap out and ruining his Cage Warriors debut. The 22-year-old Lee improves to 5-1 with his third straight submission win.
Rounding out the main card was unbeaten Scot Ross Houston, who improved to 5-0 with a victory over Cardiff man Aaron Khalid, however “The Hitman” was forced to tough it out till the end of his unanimous decision win.
The Inverness prospect won 30-27 on all three cards and cruised through the first two rounds before appearing to be on the cusp of a submission win in the third. However, Khalid escaped the rear naked choke attempt and sprawled on a takedown by Houston to turn the fight around.
It was too little, too late but Khalid gave Houston plenty to comprehend in the final minutes, capitalising on the Scot’s mistake. Houston survived it and proved an extra facet to his game, as he came through some significant late pressure, still doing enough to edge the round and retaining his unbeaten record.
It was another fantastic crowd by Cage Warriors who are enhancing their reputation as the best promotion in Europe. They will return to Newport on March 3 for what should be an excellent scrap at bantamweight between Josh Reed and Marko Kovacevic, who have both come up short against bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood.