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Dean previews Cage Warriors 44


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CAGE WARRIORS returns to the HMV Forum in London on Saturday night with an exceptional card that has really whet the appetite of MMA fans in the UK.

Cage Warriors 44 will consist of nine professional bouts, while two amateur fights will get the action underway from 7pm (UK time). The main event will see unbeaten Irishman Joseph Duffy and Italian veteran Ivan Musardo squaring off for the vacant CWFC lightweight title, while the meeting of Brian Foster and Jack Mason will co-headline.

Ian Dean, Cage Warriors matchmaker, has given his expert view on both bouts to, as well as giving his tip for ‘Fight of the Night’.

Joseph Duffy (10-0-0) v Ivan Musardo (17-6-1)

Ian Dean: For me, this is the kind of fight Cage Warriors has always been about, with a top UK-based fighter taking a potential breakthrough fight against an experienced and skilful European. There’s also the added bonus of this fight being for a title on the main event of a live televised show.

I’ve been a fan of Musardo for quite a while and even though he might not be that well-known to UK fans, he comes from a great camp, training under Minotauro black belt Augusto Frota in Switzerland.

Musardo is also has a brown belt in BJJ himself and has a good record in grappling competitions. On top of that, he’s qualified for the ADCC finals in the past, having won a qualifying tournament.

Musardo has fought the vast majority of his career at welterweight and has seen action across the continent on top events like Strength and Honour (Switzerland), World Freefight Challenge (Slovenia) and on Shooto Europe events.

People also forget that he reached the final of the ill-fated MAX Reality TV show (a German copy of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, which had a €10,000 prize but was axed before the finale) and has even travelled to Japan to fight in a Shooto event.

His losses have all come against tough opposition, such as BJJ black belt Fabricio Nascimento, Shooto Japan veteran Yoshitaro Niimi, M-1 Global title contender Daniel Weichel and KSW standout Maciej Gorski.

All 17 of Musardo’s wins have come inside the distance, including 15 submission wins, and earlier this year he defeated highly-rated Croatian fighter Ivica Truscek by a first round guillotine choke.

I find this fight intriguing because I don’t think Duffy has faced someone like Musardo, who’ll test him on the floor. I think Musardo could trouble him early in the fight if it’s kept standing as, win or lose, Musardo has been known to start fast, which has resulted in 16 of his fights ending in the first round.

Over the past year, Duffy has been in fantastic form since returning from his appearance on TUF 12. He really did impress me last time out against Francis Heagney, who’s terribly under-rated and extremely tough.

But, apart from his win over Oriol Gaset back in May, Duffy hasn’t faced the kind of legitimate European opposition other fighters in the UK top 10 have. He certainly hasn’t faced anyone with the experience and calibre of Musardo and it’ll be very interesting to see how he adapts to someone who’ll be a threat off his back but can also strike and wrestle.

It’s an important fight in many ways as I believe these are the kind of match-ups that UK-based fighters need to take before they move on to ‘world level’. Plus, it’s for a well-respected title and it’ll show if Duffy is ready for bigger, super-fights further down the line in what’s one of Europe’s most stacked divisions.

Brian Foster (15-5-0) v Jack Mason (17-8-0)

ID: Sometimes in MMA - or any industry, for that matter - you get a gift and you just have to take it and run with it. This fight is an example of that.

I’m really happy to have a UFC veteran of Brian Foster’s calibre on our show. This has all the makings of an amazing comeback story for a man who’s faced so much adversity in the past year and beyond.

What also makes this fight so unique is how he’s looking to rebuild his career, following his medical release from the UFC, despite having two straight wins there.  He potentially has a lot to lose in this fight because he comes in as the overwhelming favourite and a loss will almost certainly end his chances of an instant return to the UFC, where he impressed so much last year.

Jack Mason, on the other hand, has everything to gain and although this is a huge step-up in class for him, the rewards well out-weigh the risks and a win here could not only propel him up the rankings but get him the kind of worldwide attention he was looking for when he signed for Cage Warriors earlier this year.

Again, you have to give both guys credit as Foster travelled over to Cage Warriors when he could have picked fights closer to home against local opposition. He’s also moving up ten pounds to meet Mason at a catchweight in a venue where Mason will have tremendous home support. 

Mason jumped at the opportunity to take on Foster, despite not being happy with his performances in his previous Cage Warriors outings. He’ll be keen to claim what would be the biggest win of his career and, with this being Foster’s first time back in the cage since his injuries, this is the ideal time for him to cause a shock and show what he can really do.

Graham Turner (17-6-1) v Ashleigh Grimshaw (11-7-1)

ID: I honestly believe this fight could steal the show, as both guys are exciting fighters who have a track record of finishing fights. At Cage Warriors 40 against Antanas Jazbutis, Turner showed off his stand-up skills and some punishing ground and pound.

Although that fight went the distance, he has twelve TKOs on his record and has won several titles and tournaments on smaller shows.  With nine wins in his last ten bouts, his only loss in coming against TUF 14 contestant Hamid Corassani, Turner has all the tools to hit the big time.

Ashleigh Grimshaw has been on the UK scene for over eight years now and has taken on top UK talent in the lightweight and featherweight divisions throughout his career.  I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time and was delighted when he signed for Cage Warriors earlier this year. 

He has an exciting, crowd-pleasing style and is coming off a huge KO win over Patrick Peresa at Cage Warriors 41 in April. Also, ten of his eleven career wins have come inside the distance.

Both guys are ranked in the UK top 10 and a win here could push either of them up to the next level. I just can’t see how this fight will disappoint and it’s my pick for ‘Fight of the Night’.

Cage Warriors 44 at the HMV Forum in Kentish Town, London on Saturday will be headlined by Brian Foster v Jack Mason and Joseph Duffy v Ivan Musardo (CWFC lightweight title fight). Get your tickets HERE. Follow Cage Warriors on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.

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