Brad on the Blog: CWFC Fight Night 8
By Brad Wharton
NO SOONER had the Cage Warriors team gathered their senses after last weekend’s epic Cage Warriors 54 in Cardiff, Wales, and we were on the road again. Or rather we were taking to the skies, bound for Al Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, for CWFC Fight Night 8.
The venue may not be as vast as Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and there’s no championship gold up for grabs, but this event offers a different kind of vibe. Crowds here in the Middle East are fanatical; fighters are revered like the stars that they are and, in return, the fans will be treated to a mouth-watering evening of Cage Warriors action.
When you juxtapose Wales and the UAE, you’re left with a very stark contrast. The pumping music and intense social buzz of Cardiff’s nightlife is a world away from the peaceful streets of Al Fujairah, with its dry hotels and dusty, wide open spaces. Cardiff is a place where everything has to happen here, now and loudly, while the locals in Al Fujairah - just an hour outside of Dubai - saunter at their own leisurely pace. Neither is a better way of life than the other; it only serves to highlight the differences between cultures and what an amazing, expansive and varied place the world can be.
Speaking of differences, they are well represented in the strikingly different feels to the Fight Night 8 card and last weekend’s Cage Warriors 54. Wales, a rabidly proud sporting nation, played host to local boys taking on all comers. John Phillips, Martin McDonough, Jamie Rogers, Kris Edwards, Lew Long and Brett Johns all fought with the pride of a nation on their shoulders, with varying degrees of success. Fight Night 8 is a different animal altogether.
This part of the world is fast becoming a bustling hive of international activity. Tourists, businesses and ex-pats are all heading to the Emirates, bringing something with them, or trying to find something while they’re here. That’s a great metaphor for Saturday’s card, which features a host of international talent, all with something to offer, something to prove or something to gain.
Jack Mason has always been ‘that guy’ in the gym; the one you hear about annihilating his team-mates and training partners. With his move to welterweight firmly established, he’s now truly reaching his potential in the cage. Mason has won six out of seven since bidding the middleweight division farewell, with three victories on the bounce. Another over Collin Reuter on Saturday will surely move the 34-fight veteran towards the front of the welterweight pack.
Reuter is in a completely different career situation. Little was known about the scrappy Alaskan until earlier this year, when he became a viral sensation in the online MMA community (and arguably beyond) after THAT knockout. We’ve seen ‘YouTube Sensations’ in MMA before, and nine times out of ten the added scrutiny puts undue pressure on a young fighter; pressure they have no hope of living up to. Reuter has competed since (on another small show in his home state), but when he faces Mason in the Middle East, the world will be watching.
James Brum was Cage Warriors’ breakout fighter of 2012. Four fights, four wins, all against tough, ranked opposition. Brum has seen his Gym 01 team-mate Phil Harris progress to the UFC and he’s eager for his shot in the limelight. At the same time, Brum is looking for his ‘Conor McGregor moment’, that highlight-reel finish that shocks the MMA community into tweeting those six immortal words: Get this guy into the UFC. If he can get it against the insanely tough to finish Olivier Pastor, no doubts will remain.
Brum’s teammate Mike Ling is out for redemption. After a crushing loss to Brett Bassett in Jordan back in September, a litany of opponent pull-outs and a couple of solid ‘get-right’ wins outside the promotion, Mike is back to prove that he can hang with the best of the Cage Warriors middleweight division. ‘Big Daddy’ collides with German veteran Gregor Herb this weekend.
Frenchman Faycal Hucin is a true international, bursting onto the Cage Warriors scene in 2012 with fights against three men, from three different countries, in three different countries. On Saturday he fights in his fourth different country for Cage Warriors, against a fourth different nationality, Poland’s exceptionally talented Antoni Chmielewski. Coming off a win and a loss - both close decisions - this is Hucin’s opportunity to make himself heard. Not that Chmielewski should be written off as a stepping stone…
Twenty-two-year-old German prospect Martin Buschkamp has yet to see the second round of a fight. He’s also yet to face a talent like Finland’s Matteus Lahdesmaki. Elsewhere, Portugal’s Domingos Mestre meets Brazilian Mauro Chimento and, of course, Fight Night regular Mohamed Ali from Egypt also returns to take on France’s Sylvain Potard.
Sixteen professional fighters and nine nationalities. Never has a fight card in this part of the world been so representative of the ethos of the host country. The United Arab Emirates and Cage Warriors Fight Night 8: a match made in MMA heaven.
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