There are many talents emerging in the European MMA circuit, but none are as underappreciated as Matthew ‘The Beast’ Bonner.
Bonner is one of Cage Warriors’ most active welterweights. He has fought under their banner 6 times in the past 2 years.
‘The Beast’ has an extensive background in martial arts, having started Thai boxing over 15 years ago alongside his twin brother, Dan, who is currently ranked #5 in the UK at 78kgs.
Bonner began his MMA career in 2015, swapping wins for losses throughout his amateur career, which he rounded off with 4 wins and 4 losses in 2017, picking up the GP UK amateur welterweight title twice as well as the Tanko welterweight title.
His debut in MMA was a loss against a 1-0 Lerone Murphy who has since gone on to win 9 straight fights. this would be the first time of many in which Bonner was pitted up against an undefeated and talented prospect early on in their career.
Bonner’s professional career got off to a rough start too, with 2 straight losses against Mush Aslani and the now 4-0 Bobby Pallett.
The Warrington man was able to turn it around, however, winning his next 2 against tough opposition. He then dropped a close split-decision against Dylan Mcloughlin at Shinobi War 11 which closed off his hectic 2017 in which he fought 5 times as a professional.
2018 is where Bonner’s career really began to heat up. With a pro record of 2 wins and 3 losses, it would make sense to take an easy fight or two, but Bonner did quite the opposite, taking on some of Europe’s top talent at welterweight.
He started the year off against Liverpool fan favourite. Mick Stanton on his home turf at Cage Warriors 90. Bonner won the fight in the first round by Rear Naked Choke following a back and forth stand-up battle.
He then took on Scottish veteran, Graham Armstrong at Budo 30 in Grangemouth, once again, he beat the hometown hero, this time by a unanimous decision which bumped Bonner up to 4-3.
His next 3 fights were against top prospects who expected Bonner to be nothing more than a stepping stone and an easy win. That wasn’t the case.
Bonner faced off against former BAMMA lightweight champion Tim ‘Bobby’ Barnett at Cage Warriors 96 in what turned out to be an incredible fight, in which Barnett struggled with Bonners awkward Thai style striking. The fight resulted in a draw, proving that Bonner could hang in there with the elite.
Bonner then fought 2016 Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling silver medallist, Mark O. Madsen who was also 5-0 as a Mixed Martial Artist. Bonner pushed the pace throughout the fight in which he dropped a decision due to his opponent edging all of the rounds with his world-class wrestling.
His most recent fight was against Madars Fleminas who was coming into the bout riding a 12-fight win streak. Much like Barnett, Fleminas struggled with Bonner’s unorthodox striking and struggled to control him on the mat too. The fight was scored as a split decision in favour of Fleminas, a result that many have disputed.
Bonner now stands at 4-5-1, a record that does not reflect his ability. He is one of the few fighters that will take all-comers and that is incredibly admirable.
Bonner is currently considering a move to middleweight, but regardless, it will be interesting to see where he goes, because win, lose or draw, Matthew Bonner always brings a fight.