Cage Warriors have another talented European prospect on their hands.
Jack Cartwright has been involved in martial arts in one way or another since the age of five. He began by training wrestling before moving to boxing as he got older and decided he wanted to make a living out of combat sports. It got to a point where the man from Manchester had to make a decision whether he wanted to be a professional boxer or MMA fighter so he ended up pursuing the latter. Martial arts have always been a big part of his life so he couldn’t really see himself doing anything else.
Cartwright (7-0) burst onto the scene in devastating fashion last September when he won a one-night, four man tournament to claim the vacant Cage Warriors bantamweight belt on his promotional debut. All three of the other competitors had fought for the title in the past so Cartwright was the unknown commodity going in and shocked the watching audience. The SBG Manchester product knocked out both Scott Malone and Marko Kovacevic in the first round, barely breaking a sweat. It was by no means an easy field to run through, but Cartwright always knew he was capable of making an immediate impact in the promotion.
“I never expect any fight to be easy,” stated Cartwright. “The preparation for every bout is hard and the expectations I place on myself are always high. Even though I got two quick wins, it’s never easy. I was confident going in because I’ve dedicated my life to the sport so all I had to do was believe in myself and perform to the best of my ability. As long as I did that, I knew the rest would take care of itself.”
Anyone watching Cartwright for the first time that night would have thought that he was a knockout specialist, but he hadn’t finished anyone due to strikes before then since his first professional contest. He was actually on a streak of submission victories leading up to his Cage Warriors debut which contributed to his current 100% finishing rate. Cartwright believes he was able to pick up the knockout wins last time out because at the higher level, fighters take their time more and don’t rush, so openings present themselves more often.
Earlier in his career, he explained that once he hit someone, they shot in for the takedown straight away which led to him applying submission holds and consequently getting the tap. The undefeated fighter was keen to stress he is a well-rounded martial artist who can finish his opponents wherever the bout goes.
This Saturday marks the first time that Cage Warriors stage a show in Manchester, England - a city with a history of combat sports greats. The BEC Arena plays host to the European promotion and Cartwright is the main attraction on the bill so is looking to begin building his own legacy. However, he isn’t concerned at all that the spotlight will get to him as he headlines his first show for the organization.
“There’s no extra pressure going into this fight,” discussed Cartwright. “I put enough pressure on myself because I’m a very competitive person. Whether I was fighting in an empty room or in front of millions, I’d feel exactly the same way. There will be loads of support in the arena and it’s going to be very loud and intense. I can promise everyone that!”
Cartwright will look to defend his bantamweight belt against Manuel Bilic on Saturday night in his first title defense. Bilic (15-6) is coming off of a submission victory over Bryan Creighton in the promotion last year which took his total number of professional wins to fifteen and the majority of those have come via stoppage. Considering that Cartwright has never heard the final horn, it is likely fans could see an impressive finish one way or the other.
“Bilic is experienced and has some good wins over solid competitors,” mentioned Cartwright. “I’m expecting him to be game as he’s got finishes standing and on the ground so he’s a threat in all positions. I’ve been preparing accordingly and definitely haven’t looked past him or taken him lightly. I am 100% capable of finishing anyone on the feet regardless of weight class and I know that for a fact. My prediction is that I will win this fight and I’ll look for the stoppage the entire time. Everybody loves a knockout so that’s my intention going in.”
“My goals for the year are to beat Bilic this Saturday night first and foremost,” continued Cartwright. “After that, we’ll have to see what’s on the horizon but there’s a UFC Dublin event in August which I’d love to get on. I couldn’t think of anything better than competing on that card and showcasing my skills on the biggest stage in the world!”
The Cage Warriors 112 main card will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass at 9pm GMT on Saturday night. Fans in the US can watch from 4pmET/3pmCT.