Manuel Bilic travels to Manchester this weekend with the hope of derailing a hype train in enemy territory.
Bilic (15-6) is the first to challenge recently-crowned Cage Warriors bantamweight champion, Jack Cartwright, who burst onto the European scene in September last year during a title winning effort. Cartwright (7-0) knocked out two previous challengers for the belt in one night during the first round by knockout to announce himself as one of the brightest prospects around. Bilic has to go into Cartwright’s home town to try and steal the championship away from the Mancunian, in the hope of announcing himself as one of the bantamweights to watch on the continent.
Since the age of thirteen, Bilic has been involved in martial arts and he began exclusively focusing on MMA in 2013. He’s always been someone who wants to push himself to the limit and thought that the sport gave him the perfect opportunity to do just that. The 25-year-old has been training at AK16 Linz in his home country of Austria for the past four years and preparations for this upcoming fight went very well, with no injuries being suffered. Bilic’s main training partner has been Adam Serbiev and he has worked his BJJ under coach, Frank Artnak, to round out certain areas of his game.
The Austrian last competed in February of last year and defeated Bryan Creighton in his promotional debut by third round submission. Bilic didn’t suffer any major damage in that bout and has been waiting ever since for Cage Warriors to contact him for a fight date. When Bilic received the call he would be fighting for the title next, it didn’t come as a surprise to him as he believes he has proven that he can compete against the finest at bantamweight. In his very first professional fight, Bilic faced current UFC competitor, Khalid Taha, and has also met Bellator standout, Adam Borics, inside the cage so he is no stranger to taking on talented individuals.
Bilic competes in the main event of Cage Warriors 112 at the BEC Arena on Saturday night in a fight which is the biggest of his career so far. The champion, Cartwright, is undefeated and has a 100% finishing rate so is dangerous wherever the fight goes. Although Bilic acknowledges that Cartwright did a great job to claim the title during the one night tournament, he doesn’t think the champion has faced anyone like him to this point in his fledgling career.
“The experience I bring to the table is something that Cartwright hasn’t seen before,” claimed Bilic. “For sure, he has fought some good opponents but I already have over twenty bouts. I think Cage Warriors sees myself as a real test for him. We are two competitors who both want the victory and I can guarantee that I am not coming to lose!”
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.
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