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Opportunity knocks (Brad on the Blog: Cage Warriors 56 - Part One)

04/07/2013

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“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work” - Thomas Edison

By BRAD WHARTON

If I was asked to pick a single word from the lexicon to describe Cage Warriors’ 2013 campaign, it’d be ‘opportunity’. When the final bell rings on Saturday night, it will signal the end of our sixth event since March, when this year’s world tour kicked off. That’s six show in four months, and with another six confirmed between now and November, the pace isn’t going to let up.

It’s hard work, to be sure; but then you only get out of life what you put in. The fruit of all that labour is opportunity; specifically the opportunities Cage Warriors has been providing, and will continue to provide, for its ever-expanding roster. Nowhere is this more evident than the line-up for Cage Warriors 56.

Despite the hype surrounding the Paul Daley/Ronnie Mann double-header in Liverpool just two weeks from now, it’d be criminal to overlook what is a typically solid Cage Warriors offering this Saturday night. London is very much a home venue for the CWFC team, and this – the second of our three trips to The Forum this year – looks set to keep up the standard.

Topping the bill in Kentish Town is a welterweight contest pitting new Cage Warriors signing Bola Omoyele against France’s hard-hitting, hard-grappling Vincent del Guerra. Both men will be stepping into the cage knowing that they’ve been given a huge opportunity, but just getting to the dance isn’t enough; this is where the real hard work begins. 

Omoyele probably knows that more than most, having approached the golden gates of the UFC as part of their international Ultimate Fighter series, The Smashes. But with TUF becoming less of a golden goose than it was back in the day, Bola is now committed to doing things the hard way, and has set his sights on Cage Warriors’ welterweight gold.

Standing in his way will be a man nine years his junior, yet with four times as many professional bouts to his name. Despite winning seven of his last eight, and holding and 20-8 overall ledger, Vincent del Guerra has thus far seen the spotlight elude him. Perhaps it’s due to the historically murky legal status of MMA in his home nation, or maybe it’s the lack of that signature win; either way, everything could change with a victory on Saturday night.

For Bola, Saturday night presents the opportunity to show the world what he is truly capable of, and that the microscopic glimpse international fans got of him on TUF was not a true representation of the skills he possesses. For del Geurra, it’s a chance to put himself, and French MMA, on the map, while adding an internationally recognised name to his record.

One man who doesn’t need a lecture on the value of opportunities is Robbie Olivier. In a career stretching back over a decade, Cambridge’s Olivier has faced a murderer’s row of top-quality opposition. From fellow UK MMA pioneers Danny Batten and Leigh Remedios, to modern day mainstays like Bellator champion Pat Curran and UFC star Brad Pickett, Olivier is no stranger to a big fight.

Saturday’s bout could be the biggest of his career; if not for the stature of his opponent, then for the opportunity it presents. He’s achieved a massive amount in the sport as a fighter, a coach and, more recently, a promoter, but a win at CWFC 56 could well kickstart a second bid for the title of Europe’s number one featherweight.

The opportunity won’t be gift-wrapped, though. Swiss scrapper Patrik Berisha is a relentless competitor with great finishing instincts (in many ways a parallel of a young Olivier), and will be looking to make a name for himself at the expense of ‘The Flame’.

Elsewhere on the card, Graham Turner (pictured) has the opportunity to extend his winning streak to five and notch his 23rd overall win; not bad for a 25-year-old. Turner’s star is rising, and with good reason. The Dinky Ninja has stopped 16 opponents, and has himself only been finished once in his last 16 outings. Nad Narimani, undefeated in 10 contests (five professional, five amateur), will be looking to keep his slate clean and upset Turner’s applecart.

Denniston Sutherland remains one of the busiest men on the UK circuit. Having split a pair of domestic title bouts already this year, ‘Mad Max’ has another contest lined up in August. That’s assuming he comes out unscathed against middleweight banger Brett Bassett (8-3), who has been on the shelf since this highlight-reel KO of Mike Ling in Amman, Jordan last year. Approaching his fighting prime at 27-years-old, the pressure will be on the Londoner to perform against one of the UK’s more durable veterans. 

Cage Warriors isn’t just about providing opportunities for established fighters. Some of the country’s young and hungry prospects have been getting their chance to shine on Europe’s most prestigious MMA platform in 2013. CWFC debutants Ben Rees and Shaj Haque scored signature wins this year, and CWFC 56 will see a couple of other young guns stepping up to the plate.

Arnold Allen is one of the most talked-about fresh 145lbers in the UK. Fighting out of the BKK Fighters camp, Allen, a slick grappler with legitimate KO power, makes his promotional debut against HAMMA’s veteran Andy Green. Arnold’s teammate Sean ‘Sexy Curls’ Carter looks to follow up on his CWFC Fight Night 8 victory over Matt Hughes when he faces fellow lightweight prospect Adam Boussif. Highly-regarded amateur sensation Paddy ‘The Baddie’ Pimblett, just 18 years old, gets his third pro run-out against Florian Calin in an unaired bout – as if you needed another reason to catch the show live.

From seasoned veterans like Robbie Olivier, to next generation prospects like Arnold Allen; from domestic standouts with a point to prove like Bola Omoyele, to international competitors looking for their moment to shine like Vincent del Guerra; from an 18-year-old Paddy Pimblett, to a warrior in his 40s like Denniston Sutherland; if you’re willing to put in the hard work, Cage Warriors is willing to give you the opportunity.

Cage Warriors 56 – time to grab those overalls.   

Photo: Dolly Clew | Cage Warriors

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