Last-minute pull-outs are the bane of Mixed Martial Arts, especially on the smaller shows that don’t have deep rosters with twenty-plus contenders who are willing to jump in and save the day.
Sometimes though, we get surprised. A relative no-name comes in and shocks system. This is exactly what happened at Cage Warriors 103 when Morgan Charrière faced proud Scandinavian; Søren Bak for the Cage Warriors interim featherweight title.
Charrière came in with a solid resume, thirteen wins, six losses and just coming off of his first draw against Marko Kovacevic, a two-time Cage Warriors title challenger.
The French twenty-four-year-old was already a veteran of the European scene despite his young age.
He was seen as the ‘fill in’ however. We’ve seen it time and time again, Magny vs White at UFC Liverpool, Santos vs Anders at UFC Sao Paulo. No time for a training camp, no time to diet.
More often than not it ends quickly, the fighter who has trained beats the fighter who hasn’t. But for every few, there’s one or two that catch us off guard, leaving us pleasantly surprised.
Bak defeated Charrière, the fight was at best a draw, let’s not forget that. It was the Frenchman’s performance though that left a lot of us questioning just how good the Cage Warriors newbie was.
Sure, some of us went the other way, questioning whether we may have overrated Søren Bak, but it’s pretty clear now when considering Charrière’s performances since then, that Bak simply had his hands full with Morgan Charrière.
So, here’s how it all went down; Søren Bak had just defeated the talented prospect from Liverpool, Paddy Pimblet, for the vacant Cage Warriors lightweight title.
He then called out Dean Trueman who had just picked up the featherweight strap, seemingly in an attempt to recreate some of the magic left behind by a certain Notorious Irishman.
Trueman had to pull out due to an injury he suffered in camp, and that’s where Morgan Charrière comes in. He took the fight on a week and a half’s notice and the Interim title was now up for grabs.
The fight, which took place in Bak’s back yard – Copenhagen – was a gruelling five-round affair.
In the first round, while Charrière measured up ‘The True Viking’, Bak got straight to work with his overhand right.
Charrière got to work, leaping in with big straight shots, bringing the guard up and then looping around with wide hooks and uppercuts, while Bak’s level was constantly changing, setting up the inevitable takedown.
It was Charrière who took Bak down though, where he controlled the latter part of the round. When the action made it back up to the feet due to Bak’s solid cage work, Charrière got top position again due to a failed lateral drop from the hometown hero at the round’s end.
Round two; Bak was having difficulties dealing with Charrière’s slick striking and head movement, he was a nightmare to keep down too. So far, his takedown defence was fantastic.
To everyone’s surprise, Charrière got the wrestler down again. This time though, Bak scrambled his way out and got a hold of Charrière’s back. Despite the hooks being in, Charrière was able to fight off Bak’s Rear Naked Choke attempts and then got the reversal, scrambling to Bak’s guard.
He looked to get up when Bak illegally kicked the still grounded opponent. Bak was warned but rightfully not penalised as it was a clear accident due to the wild scramble.
After an even exchange on the feet, Bak shot a double leg takedown, but the crafty Charrière reversed it, locking in a kneebar then switching to a heel hook at the buzzer. That could have very well been the fight’s end.
The third started fast again, with Charrière sweeping Bak off of a caught kick and getting some nice shots off in the scramble. Charrière looked to have a nice reverse-triangle but Bak was able to escape and lock up Kimura grips.
Charrière got out of that too though and made it back to his feet. Not for long as Bak’s double leg finally hit the mark. The rest of the round was a beautiful battle of scrambles and reversals: Bak on top – Charrière on to – Bak on top – Charrière on top. Right until the buzzer.
In the first of the two championship rounds, fatigue was setting in. The two men traded strikes and while Charrière’s striking seemed more fluid and looser, the stand-up was essentially tit for tat.
Two minutes in and Bak shot again, Charrière scrambled and got the back and then Bak shook Charrière off, getting good some good ground and pound in.
After they disengaged and made it back to their feet there was a couple more takedown attempts from Bak, the final of which kept him on top until the end of the round.
The final round was contested mainly on the feet. Charrière found his range and his right-hand landed time and time again, hurting Bak, bursting his nose and pushing him back.
Bak did go for a takedown but Charrière was able to limp-leg his way out. The fight ended with Bak pushing the Frenchman to the cage and keeping him there, but still no takedown.
Bak won the fight by way of majority decision.
Both men won really though, while Bak got his second Cage Warriors belt and a win on his record, Charrière got a multi-fight deal with Cage Warriors.
He also got to show off not only his impressive striking and surprising grappling ability, but he was also able to show us his toughness, going the full five rounds on short notice.
Since that fight in March, Charrière has won two in a row, most recently knocking out the aforementioned Dean Trueman.
Bak vs Charrière was one of Cage Warriors most exciting title fights this year, hopefully, it isn’t forgotten due to the fact it was contested mainly on the mat. It showed so much talent and potential for both men.
It’s exciting to see where they both go from here. Who knows, they may meet again someday.