Fan favourite Mitchell lifts title at cracking Cage Warriors Academy show
- Credit: Brett King
Hometown hero Leigh Mitchell sent fans home happy as he lifted the flyweight title to cap a pulsating, compelling night of fights at Cage Warriors Academy South East 26 in Colchester.
Mitchell, from just down the road in Witham, largely dominated stubborn foe Aaron Laleye in the main event of the evening at a crowded, noisy Charter Hall last night.
Using a grappling heavy attack, Mitchell often appeared close to locking in a fight-ending choke, but Laleye simply refused to succumb.
Thus, the fight went to the scorecards, with BKK Fighter product Mitchell (now 5-3) deservedly having his hand raised via unanimous decision.
In the co-main event. Tom Mearns turned in potentially the best performance of his career to lift the promotion's lightweight title on a split decision over the bigger Joshua Onwordi.
Mearns, who evened his record at 7-7 with the win, showed ring craft, guile and educated pressure in backing Onwordi up and was never bullied in the grappling exchanges either, despite his talented foe's height and size advantages.
The tank-like Mearns halts a skid of seven losses in his last eight fights - all against stellar opposition, it must be said - and now says he'll go in search of title glory in the senior Cage Warriors promotion.
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Before that fight, Jack Eglin showed once again why he's among the best prospects in the country at bantamweight, moving to 2-0 as a professional with a dominant first round rear naked choke finish of Suffolk's Jimmy Fell.
The ultra-aggressive Eglin rocked Fell early before scoring the takedown and working for the fight-ending submission.
Fell, who drops to 0-2 as a pro after a 5-1 amateur career which saw him lift multiple title belts, appeared to suffer a rib injury in the onslaught and must now go away and lick his wounds before plotting his return.
Elsewhere, on a night of thrilling, very well-matched contests, brother and sister fighting duo Chloe and David Cooke both lifted amateur title belts.
First Chloe was embroiled in a fight of the night contender with Ako Murata in a dispute for the 105lbs gold.
Cooke, already the strawweight champ, appeared very close to a ground and pound finish in the first, but Murata blazed back in the second and third, with some torrid striking and grappling exchanges drawing gasps and applause in equal measure from a knowledgeable, passionate audience.
And it was Cooke who ultimately prevailed, forcing a third round TKO via ground and pound before embracing her beaten opponent after a fight from which both emerge with huge credit.
Then, later in the evening, Cooke's brother David proved that intestinal fortitude runs in the Cooke family blood, as he bounced back from some shaky moments to beat the wild-swinging, hard-charging CJ Buchanan in the second round.
The finish, when it came, was a thing of beauty, Cooke raining down heavy shots from the rarely-seen mounted triangle position to earn the TKO finish and with it the amateur lightweight title.
There was a third title for their Team Underground stable too, with striking prodigy Shanelle Dyer claiming the 125lbs strap on points after a dominant showing against Rosmunda Avagliano.
In the other amateur title fights on the card, Matthew Oki defended his welterweight crown with a split decision win over the tough Daniel Crooks-May, and Ollie Sarwa enjoyed a unanimous points triumph over Gabriel Gomez in their bantamweight clash.
Finally Vadimas Gaizutis, from the powerhouse GB Top Team, lifted the flyweight belt with a first round TKO over David Laker.
Earlier on the card, Norfolk's Tariq Pell improved his amateur record to 4-2 with a mature display on route to a third round TKO stoppage of tricky southpaw Marcus Hovde.
Flashy lightweight Pell showed patience in his approach, looking for his openings, before scoring a big takedown in the third and final round, working for position and then dropping heavy hammerfists on Hovde to force the stoppage.
And there was an impressive debut for featherweight Jamie O'Meara, as he earned an entertaining split decision victory over Kyle Everitt.
O'Meara, who trains under Colchester's former Cage Warriors world middleweight champion James Webb, certainly looks to be one to keep an eye on.