MMA professional Matt Bonner is a step closer to the UFC after winning a coveted mixed martial arts world title.

The 30-year-old co-owner of The Forge Fight Academy Gym in Bewsey took the Cage Warriors middleweight crown off the defending champion and Saint Kitts native Nathias Frederick in London at the weekend.

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And the new...  All pictures by Dolly Clew

Bonner’s 20 years of dedicated training are paying dividends and could lead to the former Padgate High School student realising his goal of competing in UFC, where there is big money to be earned.

“By a mile this is the biggest achievement of his fight career,” said his twin brother and business partner Daniel, himself a champion Thai boxer.

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Belting! Picture: Dolly Clew

“This is the biggest belt you can hold in Europe pretty much, even though it’s a world title.

“Cage Warriors have a really good connection to UFC, so if you become Cage Warriors world champion you might have to defend it once or twice but then you go to UFC and that’s when you’re talking big money. That’s the pinnacle of the sport. And for sure he wants to go to UFC.”

Daniel spoke of great pride in his sibling’s achievement at York Hall.

“Cage Warriors is one of the largest promotions in the world, definitely number one in Europe,” he said.

“Matthew’s been fighting the cages for about three or four years and his career has been up and down.

“It’s only in the last couple of years that he’s really turned it around. He put together a winning streak and has gone on to win the Cage Warriors world-title belt.

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Matt Bonner with his fight team. Picture: Dolly Clew

“Frederick was on a nine-fight win streak and hadn’t been beaten in years, so it’s a big win.

“I’m proud of what’s achieved.

“Some think with MMA that because it’s in cages it’s just two people trying to knock lumps out of each other, but he’s been training like an elite athlete since he was 10 years old.

“Holding the Cage Warriors title is one of the biggest achievements in the sport.

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The Beast, Matt Bonner. Picture: Dolly Clew

“He’s been grinding for a long time and now he’s beating up guys who are elite in the world, they’re no pushovers.

“Matthew trains every day. And when he’s not training he’s in the gym we own taking one-to-one sessions as a full-time coach so he’s always got his foot in the sport.”

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Daniel explained how his brother, who fights out of the Next Generation Gym in Liverpool and is nicknamed The Beast, sealed the deal against the 38-year-old.

“It was a tough fight. Matthew finished him with a submission in round four with what’s called a rear-naked choke,” he said.

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Action pictures by Dolly Clew

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“His opponent got a point taken off him because he kneed Matthew in the head on the floor, which is illegal, in the second round.

“So Matthew was ahead but it was nip-and-tuck. He then managed to take the guy’s back in the fourth round.

“It was broadcast on UFC Fight Pass, so it was streamed to thousands of people worldwide. It was a big deal, part of a trilogy show so they had fights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“I think it’s the only MMA show that’s governed by the Government – they have to go to the Government and get an application for it because of Covid.

“So the fighters had to go to a hotel, get tested, get put into a bubble. It’s all professional stuff.

“Still no crowds allowed. It would have been nice if we could have all gone and supported Matthew. But to be fair everyone’s desperate for fights, so you take what you can get.”