On Saturday night in Belfast’s SSE Arena, two undefeated Irish featherweights will collide in a domestic showdown to open the main card of Cage Warriors 140.
Team KF’s Ryan Shelley has quickly amassed an unblemished 4-0 record in the space of 10 months, finishing each of his opponents. Meanwhile, Fight Academy Ireland’s Matthew Elliott has notched 30 minutes of cage time en route to a clean 2-0 pro CV thus far.
Both Shelley and Elliott are already champions in their own right. Shelley is a multiple-time world champion across kickboxing and taekwondo, while Elliott boasts British titles in judo and wrestling.
The pair are no strangers to each other too. Dublin-based Team KF and Belfast-based Fight Academy Ireland share a friendly relationship, with fighters occasionally venturing across the border to spar each other. While Elliott isn’t keen to divulge specific details about the rounds shared with Shelley, “The Boogeyman” takes confidence from the knowledge he has banked following their encounters:
“I know how it goes with Ryan Shelley,” Elliott explained to MyMMANews.com.
“The thing is, he can’t catch up with my level of wrestling in 8 weeks. He can’t catch up with it in 8 years. He can’t catch up.”
Elliott is surprised that Cage Warriors matchmaker Ian Dean has chosen to pair two undefeated Irish prospects together for this card:
“I wanted him, but I didn’t think they [Cage Warriors] were going to give me that fight. I didn’t think that they would take that fight if he [Ryan Shelley] got offered it. I thought Cage Warriors would have tried keeping us separate because it’s 2 Irish lads, home show, all the rest of it. I thought they would have diverted it in different ways, try to get us both wins, but they’ve just booked him his funeral!”
Even though Shelley is set to step inside the cage with Elliott on Saturday night, the Belfast fighter is adamant that Shelley isn’t eager to engage.
“I genuinely do not believe that Ryan Shelley wants to fight me. There’s nothing in the world that can convince me that he wants to fight me”
“He knows how it’s going to go. If you look at it, where does he beat me? He’s not going to beat me in striking, I’m going to punch the head off him. He can’t out grapple me”
One thing is assured, come Sunday morning, only one of them will still have a perfect pro record intact, and Elliott is relishing the opportunity to serve the Dubliner his first defeat:
“He’s 4-0 with 4 finishes. I want his 0. I want it to be ‘Matthew Elliott is his loss’”.
Matthew Elliott vs Ryan Shelley will open the main card of Cage Warriors 140, which kicks off at 9pm on Saturday 25th June on UFC Fight Pass.
Andy Stevenson is an MMA writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster based in Dublin, Ireland.