IT WAS a night to remember at Cage Warriors 97 in Cardiff as thousands packed into Ice Arena Wales for a milestone event in Welsh MMA history, writes Jason Batty.

Fans were not left disappointed during the biggest mixed martial arts show to be held in the principality, one which saw some bruising encounters and Wales’ top prospects performing on Europe’s biggest cage fighting platform.

The late withdrawal of Jack Shore’s opponent Omer Cankardesler just 48 hours prior to the big night saw the bantamweight title being put to one side for now.

The Tillery Combat fighter will have to wait until next time to fight for the gold strap.

Despite this setback, the promoters found a late replacement in Brazilian Wesley Maia for the non-title contest.

It was a dangerous fight for Shore considering he had trained for a different opponent and was standing opposite a striker with a Muay Thai background and nothing to lose in front of an electric Welsh crowd.

However, when the cage door closed it was business as usual for Shore as he closed the distance and took Maia to the canvas.

The floor is where Shore serves up his unforgiving ground and pound game and he dictated the fight from there on in.

Relentlessly smashing the Brazilian with elbows and punches, the referee saw enough halfway through the first round to put a stop to the contest and give Shore another finish inside the distance.

Shore looked more than comfortable in his new home and is expected to fight for the bantamweight crown back in Cardiff in December at Cage Warriors 100.

The fight of the night came in the co-main event where Blaenavon’s Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones recovered from a huge scare against Polish striker Kacper Formela to secure a first-round triumph.

Formela’s movement and power seemed to surprise Jones and the Welshman was troubled early on with a flush knee.

The Pole then exploded into action, putting Jones on his back and looking for the finish.

Having weathered the storm, Jones showed his toughness and spirit.

Undeterred by the shots taken, former professional boxer Jones came forward and rocked Formela with a kick which wobbled him.

Heavy knees in the clinch followed and Formela eventually folded to see Jones to a sixth win out of six.

Sadly, on a night of history and jubilation, it wasn’t to be for the Tillery Combat pairing of Kris Edwards and Cory McKenna who both impressed but dropped decisions.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Ontario, California, Pontllanfraith’s Kody Davies took his pro boxing record to 8-0 with a comfortable points win over home fighter Jerhed Fenderson.

The light-heavyweight contest at the Citizens Business Bank Arena went the full eight rounds, at the end of which Davies was awarded the bout 80-72 by all three ringside judges.