Cage Kings Dublin 2: Coakley and Hodgers steal the show on a thrilling night of fights
In the run up to Saturday night’s event a very small minority of people, who were both uninformed and somewhat disillusioned by their own agendas, made every effort in their power to cancel Cage Kings Dublin 2.
However it is testament to the promoters and staff of the event who overcame these annoyances and the media storm which followed to deliver one of the best run shows in Ireland.
Cage Kings Dublin 2 succeeded in treating the packed National Basketball Arena to a night of shocks, drama, skill and passion for combat sport.
The crowd witnessed two stand out performances from Craig Coakley (Lionheart) and Karl Hodgers (Louth Thai).
Coakley was an unstoppable force in his fight against highly regarded Jeremy Noa Zoa (Nassar K France). His knees and elbows were nasty and they took a telling toll on his French opponent. The first round was pure survival for Noka Zoa who got rocked early by a kick to the body.
In the second round Noka Zoa came out fighting but got dropped as he came forward. Coakley launched another attack which dropped him again and gave the Lionheart man a stunning TKO victory.
Karl Hodgers became the new 57 kg Caged Muay Thai champion after defeating defending champion James E O’Connell by TKO in the first round. He out-boxed O’Connell with quick hands and sheer aggression. O’Connell left a big cut the length of Hodger’s eye early in the round but the Louth man never let it affect him.
He walked forward and let his hands fly connecting with some big left-right combinations. O’Connell found himself on the canvas but showed the heart of a champion to continue fighting. Hodgers saw that he was dazed and never relented in attack. The referee was forced to stop it when Hodgers connected with another heavy combo near the end of the round. It was a solid performance worthy of the 57 kg title.
The main event was expected to be the best match-up of the night. But we were not treated to an exciting contest between two of the best Muay Thai fighters in Europe. However credit must go to Issam Reghi (Nassar K France) who went about his work efficiently and stopped Mark Casserly (Champion M.A.) inside two rounds.
Casserly will no doubt be back stronger and many will hope to see him in action on the Cork show in June.
Wayne Grant (Fantom) successfully defended his 77 kg Caged Muay Thai title against the challenge of Gergo Bodis (Kamikaze). Following a tentative start from both, Bodis was caught by a big left hook which rocked him badly. Grant connected with another and secured the defence of his title with a first round TKO.
Michael O’Donovan (Samson M.A.) continued his good form in 2016 as he defeated Darren McFall (Warriors) inside two rounds. Taking the fight on late notice did not affect him; he outworked McFall and wobbled him with some big combinations in the second round. McFall showed a defiant attitude to continue but the damage was too much for the ref to let it continue.
Elsewhere we were treated to an all-out war between Islam Bisayev (Bridgestone) and Liam McGill (Limerick). Two experienced veterans who invited each other to attack and put everything on the line. Bisayev enjoyed a dominant first round but McGill took the fight to him in the second. However Bisayev had done just enough to win by unanimous decision.
Other notable performances included Jeanderson Castro’s (Coopers MMA) first round TKO over Waldek (Nina Warriors) in his pro MMA debut. He showed a willingness to fight any opponent after others withdrew from the bout and won convincingly making a statement in the process.
Dylan Meagher (Courage) won a thrilling encounter with Damien Darker (Elite). Darker showcased his explosive fighting style, using an array of kicks and exceptional shot selection to pressurise the Tipperary man. Meagher was determined to stay in the fight and worked from the back foot to land some nice kicks of his own. The decision resulted in some controversy but that will only build more anticipation ahead of any potential rematch between the pair.
Special mention to Colin O’Donovan, Jordan Matthews and Eimear Codd in their victories over tough opponents. It was a night encapsulated by the never say die attitude of the fighters involved and all credit must go to them and their trainers.
Cage Kings Dublin 2 is not, as some would have you believe, an unregulated bloodbath. It was a showcase of combat sports at the highest level monitored by all recommended safety procedures.
Cage Kings is regarded as a pinnacle event for many fighters in Ireland and if Saturday night is anything to go by then it will continue to grow and become one of the largest shows on our shores.