Contenders 18 report: Ylies Djiroun retains belt, Tom Mearns wins title and Andre Goncalves impresses

Thetford's Andre Goncalves impressed at Contenders 18

Thetford's Andre Goncalves impressed at Contenders 18 - Credit: Jerry Daws/stillfocused

Champion Ylies Djiroun retained his European lightweight belt with a points win after 25 minutes of fascinating fighting with challenger Adam Boussif at Contenders 18 in Norwich on Saturday night.

The French champion came into the fight riding a streak of six straight wins, including four by his signature guillotine choke, but was expected to face his toughest test to date in Boussif, a recent challenger for the Cage Warriors 155lbs strap.

And so it proved, in a fight that ebbed and flowed and never saw either man take a decisive lead. Bousiff was a match for Djiroun on the ground, escaping several chokes, and neither man dominated the other on the feet.

Boussif secured a huge takedown slam in the fight's waning seconds and clearly thought he had done enough to win, raising his hands and doing press-ups in the centre of the cage. Djiroun, in contrast, did not celebrate.

But the judges at the Norfolk Showground saw the fight for the champion, who moves to 12-4 with the win. Bousiff drops to 9-6, but has clearly enhanced his reputation.

In the co-main event, Tom Mearns made short work of Italian Marco Bosca, tapping him out to a nasty modified rear naked choke in the first to claim the European featherweight title and improve his record to 4-0.

Elsewhere, Thetford lightweight Andre Goncalves made an impressive return to winning ways after his first-ever defeat last December, cutting through foe Linas Meistavicius like a hot knife through butter.

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Goncalves took Meistavicius down early and rained down heavy bombs from the top, with the referee forced to save his opponent from further punishment in the very first round.

The Tsunami Norfolk man improves to 3-1-1, and is one to watch going forward - likeable, charismatic and with the gift of the gab outside of the cage, he boasts the power wrestling and strong boxing inside that could see him make his mark on the sport.

There was an impressive win too for Cromer's Jack Mezzetti in the night's featured K1 bout, as he stopped opponent Giwrgos Koulalis with a final round barrage of vicious leg kicks, topped with a big right hand.

Mezzetti's younger brother Henry was involved in the fight of the night, battling Ollie Sarwa for the amateur 61kg K1 title. Sarwa, his face a mask of crimson, gritted his teeth and slammed leg kick after leg kick into his foe having lost the first two rounds.

His strong finish saw him take a majority points win, in a fight that only served to underline the great potential in both combatants.

Bury St Edmunds' Som Haddow also lifted a K1 title belt, wresting the 70kg strap from unbeaten champion Dom Barnard using educated Muay Thai, heavy body kicks and strong knees to grind Barnard down and take a points decision.

And in the night's other title clash, 77kg K1 champion Piotr Panczak pitched a shut-out on challenger Alan McKenzie, who struggled to make a dent on the tight and techical champ, en route to a wide points win for the belt holder.

The next Contenders will be held at the Norfolk Showground on June 3. Visit for information and tickets.


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