OKTAGON 56 Main Card Preview: Birmingham Set to Host Explosive MMA Showdown

OKTAGON 56 in Birmingham features top-tier MMA matchups, including Aby vs. Creasey, Wanliss vs. Siraj, and more. Follow live updates on!

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-04-18

Luke Dalton

9 minutes read

OKTAGON MMA Set for Birmingham

OKTAGON MMA, known for its exhilarating showcases that go beyond the realm of sports, is making its return to the United Kingdom. Following the thunderous success of OKTAGON 52 in Newcastle's Utilita Arena earlier this year, the stage is now set at Birmingham's Resorts World Arena. 

Set against the backdrop of the Midlands, this upcoming event promises to be a spectacle like no other. With a roster featuring top-tier British fighters, anticipation is soaring for an evening of gritty showdowns and unforgettable moments in the world of mixed martial arts.

Aaron Aby vs. Sam Creasey

In a clash that transcends mere competition, the spotlight will shine brightly on Aaron Aby as he prepares to step into the Oktagon cage once more. A beacon of inspiration, Aby's journey as a cancer survivor battling cystic fibrosis has captured the hearts of fans worldwide. Now, he finds himself on the cusp of glory as he faces off against one of Europe's premier flyweights, Sam Creasey.

This rematch from 2021 promises to be a battle for the ages, with the Oktagon Flyweight championship hanging in the balance. For Aby, it's a chance to realise the dreams that have fuelled his relentless pursuit of excellence. Will this be the night he etches his name in the annals of MMA history, completing his fairy-tale story with a coveted championship belt around his waist?

However, standing in his path is the formidable Sam Creasey, a stalwart of the flyweight division known for his dominance inside the cage. With a victory over Aby in their previous encounter, Creasey enters the bout with confidence, poised to showcase his superiority once again. 

Adding another layer of intrigue to this already compelling narrative is the backstory of the Oktagon Flyweight championship. Previously held by Elias Garcia after defeating Aaron Aby at OKTAGON 48, the title now sits vacant following the decision by Oktagon owners to strip Garcia of the belt due to his failure to come to an agreement on his title defence. As Aby and Creasey vie for championship glory, the stakes have never been higher, ensuring that this main event will be nothing short of legendary.

Aaron Aby OKTAGON .webp

Image credit: OKTAGON MMA

Shem Rock vs. Stefano Catacoli

City against city, Liverpool squares off against London in the co-main event, setting the stage for a battle of regional pride. Rising star Shem Rock, hailing from Liverpool, and known as Paddy Pimblett’s training partner, returns to the Oktagon cage with a hunger for victory. With an impeccable record boasting nine wins and nine stoppages, including a lightning-fast knockout in just six seconds, Rock stands as one of the most formidable fighters on the roster.

However, his path to glory is obstructed by Stefano Catacoli, known as "The Ghost," who made an impactful debut on short notice at OKTAGON 50. Despite facing the daunting task of taking on a hometown favourite in Ostrava, Catacoli showcased his fighting spirit and secured a decision victory, proving his mettle on the grand stage. Now, he faces his toughest challenge yet in the form of Shem Rock.

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Image credit: OKTAGON MMA

Akonne Wanliss vs. Sahil Siraj

Dubbed ‘the UEFA Champions League of MMA’, the highly anticipated €1 million Tipsport Gamechanger tournament makes its UK debut, adding an extra layer of excitement to the Oktagon 56 event. Birmingham’s own Akonne Wanliss steps into the spotlight as he faces off against Swedish knockout artist Sahil Siraj in a colossal opening round grudge match.

Wanliss, affectionately nicknamed "Jedi", emerges as a rising British star, boasting a unique blend of skills honed both in the cage and on the stage as a former stripper. With an impressive record of seven wins, all secured before the limit, including four knockouts and three submissions, Wanliss exudes the proverbial X factor. As he enters the Million Dollar Pyramid, all eyes are on Wanliss to see if the Force truly is with him in this high-stakes encounter.

On the opposing side of the cage stands Sahil Siraj, representing the cold-blooded Nordic blood of Sweden. Dubbed as Sweden's #1 lightweight, Siraj has earned the moniker of "The Knockout Prince" for his ruthless efficiency in dispatching opponents. With eight fighters vanquished in the first round, including two in under 30 seconds, Siraj's reputation as an elite stand-up fighter precedes him. His extensive experience in K1 and Muay Thai, boasting a record of 58-3 with 31 knockouts, further solidifies his status as a formidable force to be reckoned with.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as the winner of this epic showdown will advance to the quarterfinals stage of the Tipsport Gamechanger tournament. Awaiting the victor is Polish fighter Mateusz Legierski, setting the stage for further thrilling encounters at OKTAGON 58 in Praha.

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Image credit: OKTAGON MMA

Daniel Škvor vs. Will Fleury

Another momentous occasion will then unfold as the Oktagon cage plays host to the debut of Celtic warrior Will Fleury against former kickboxer Daniel Škvor. 

The spotlight shines on Škvor, a Czech stand-up legend and #5 welterweight, as he looks to solidify his position atop the division. With an impressive track record boasting five first-round stoppages and notable victories over respected opponents, Škvor exudes confidence as he enters the arena. His recent triumph against European legend Matin Zawada only serves to fuel his determination as he sets his sights on Fleury.

On the other side of the cage stands Fleury, a seasoned warrior with a reputation for leaving everything inside the octagon. With a bold declaration to his opponent, Fleury makes it clear that he has no intention of backing down. Ranked #72 in the world, Fleury's storied career includes victories in some of the sport's most prestigious organisations such as Bellator, PFL, Brave and BAMMA. 

Will Fluery credit- PFL.jpeg

Image credit: PFL

George Staines vs. Tomas Ciganik

A clash of rising stars is on the horizon as George Staines, the winner of the OKTAGON Challenge and one of the most promising prospects in the UK, returns to the Oktagon cage to further carve his path in the world of MMA. Known as ‘Saint’ George Staines, he left an indelible mark with an emphatic victory over Denis Frimpong in his pro debut, solidifying his status as the OKTAGON Challenge: England vs Ireland champion.

Staines, a self-professed Lego geek, has exhibited dominant skills in the cage on numerous occasions, boasting a remarkable record of 16 wins and just one defeat as Europe's #1 amateur lightweight. However, a new challenge beckons as he squares off against the formidable Tomas Ciganik, the champion of Slovakia's CFT organisation and a rising talent from Slovakia’s SFG gym.

Hailing from one of Ireland's biggest promotions, Clan Wars, Ciganik has answered the call to test his mettle against Staines. With a championship pedigree and a reputation for delivering electrifying performances, Ciganik presents a formidable challenge to Staines' aspirations for glory.

George Staines OKTAGON .jpeg

Image credit: OKTAGON MMA

Liam Etebar vs. Andrej Kalasnik

Finally, Birmingham’s Team Renegade Gym contributes to the stacked card with the inclusion of local talent Liam Etebar, who is set to ignite the arena with his explosive fighting style.

His opponent, Andrej "AK47" Kalasnik, known for his accuracy akin to the famed submachine gun, enters the fray with an impressive resume. A two-time TIPSPORT performance of the evening winner, Kalasnik has showcased his knockout power with four first-round finishes and a notable victory over the renowned Christian Jungwirth, whom he dispatched in a mere 63 seconds. With his enigmatic persona capturing the imagination of fans, Kalasnik promises to deliver yet another captivating performance.

On the other hand, Liam "Bad Boy" Etebar, is a blitz knockout specialist with a penchant for lightning-fast finishes. Etebar boasts an intimidating record of seven first-round knockouts, including his three fastest KOs in six, 10, and 16 seconds respectively. As the owner of multiple championship belts and the record for the fastest KO in the largest Dutch organisation, Etebar's reputation precedes him.

Liam Etebar OKTAGON.jpeg

Image credit: OKTAGON MMA

Preliminary Fights

In addition to the main card bouts, OKTAGON 56 promises an electrifying line-up of seven preliminary fights, showcasing the depth of talent in the world of MMA. Here's a glimpse of the action-packed matchups awaiting fans:

  • Jakub Dohnal vs. James Hendin – Featherweight
  • Denis Frimpong vs. Callum Mullen – Lightweight
  • Mick Stanton vs. Kamil Wojciechowski – Middleweight
  • Max Handanagic vs. James Dixon – Welterweight
  • Ammari Diedrick vs. Daniel Hromek – Welterweight
  • Beau Gavin vs. Mbaye Gaye – Featherweight
  • Megan Morris vs. Aitana Alvarez – Women’s Flyweight


Get ready for an evening packed with adrenaline-pumping excitement and unforgettable moments as OKTAGON 56 unfolds at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena. MMA enthusiasts and casual fans alike won't want to miss a minute of the action, and will be there to bring you all the latest news and exclusive post-fight interviews. 

Stay tuned to to keep up to date with the thrilling MMA action and fierce competition as it happens live from the arena floor.

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.