Saturday, 26 October 2019

Cage Warriors 109: Jai Herbert - "I think to myself, I can't wait to get quit being a scaffolder"

By Alistair Hendrie

“Grinding away at work is just a nightmare and I can’t wait until I don’t have to do it anymore,” says the Cage Warriors lightweight champion, Jai Herbert, who lets out a sigh as he tells Fighters Only about his job in Wolverhampton as a scaffolder. “It’s mad, the winter is the worst time when everything is frozen outside and you still have to go and put scaffolding up. I’ll be out of the door by about 6 in the morning and it’s just horrendous. I just think to myself, I can’t wait to get rid of this.”

With the way Herbert has taken to professional MMA, though, winning nine and losing only one of his paid outings thus far, Jai’s mornings scaling up and down steel structures may soon be a thing of the past. A tall 155lb’er with a rapid jab, Herbert won his title in June when he pulled the plug on Jack Grant with sustained hooks, crosses and shovel punches that crashed through his rival’s defences.

Next up for Herbert, on Saturday, is the first defence of his crown against Cain Carrizosa in Birmingham at Cage Warriors 109. Then it will be back to work for one of Europe’s hottest talents. “Now that I’ve got the title I’ve had four weeks off work to finish my camp, but obviously I’ll be back in next Monday,” he says.

Read the full article at Fighters Only

Check out Alistair Hendrie's Kindle book, Fight Game: The Untold Story of Women's MMA in Britain, featuring insight from Rosi Sexton, Joanne Calderwood and more

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Cage Warriors 108: Forget the 9-5, Mason Jones wants belts and riches

By Alistair Hendrie

At a time when plenty of fighters fall into debt, depression or drink after retiring, it’s refreshing to learn that Mason Jones, the young Welsh lightweight with his head screwed on, is already planning for the future. “It’s silly to not have an exit plan,” he says. “If you’re fighter who hasn’t been saving their purses and building up savings, why haven’t you? My dad has always encouraged me to look after my finances and if things go to plan I’ll be investing before I retire. Then once I’m done, I’ll have enough money to avoid the 9-5 and not worry about money. I want to have a comfortable lifestyle.”

Jones, though, stresses he’s not in MMA purely for the money. “I’ll get rich one day, I know I’m good enough, but I’m not in it for that. I do the sport because I want to be the best possible fighter, not just for the money – that’s just an aside.”

As well as considering endeavours away from the fight game, Jones has built a record of 7-0 once the cage doors close. The judoka thrilled fans with decisions over the likes of Konmon Deh and Donovan Desmae, hurling combinations at will and chasing advantages from the guard too. Those performances have helped him succeed Jack Shore as Cage Warriors’ poster boy for Wales, and Jones is now deep in camp for his Cage Warriors 108 main event against Aleksi Mantykivi on Saturday in Cardiff.

Read the rest of the article at Fighters Only

Check out Alistair Hendrie's Kindle book, Fight Game: The Untold Story of Women's MMA in Britain, featuring insight from Joanne Calderwood, Rosi Sexton and more

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Jack Shore sets up next crop of Welsh talent with UFC Copenhagen win

By Alistair Hendrie

Wales stood as one on Saturday night to herald Jack Shore, the unbeaten 24-year-old who displayed poise beyond his years to submit Nohelin Hernandez in his UFC debut in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The Tank” is the fourth Welshman to compete (and win) in the UFC, while he is also the second Welshman to win a UFC contest via tap-out. Now, with bantamweight Shore exhibiting such fight IQ and professionalism against Hernandez, he has laid the path for the upcoming line of Welsh youngsters.

Perhaps the next Welshman to enter the UFC will be another 24-year-old, lightweight Mason Jones, who tackles Aleski Mantykivi on October 12th at Cage Warriors 108 in Cardiff. Perfect as a professional at 7-0, in 2018 Jones wowed fans by trading furious submission attempts during his decision over Konmon Deh. Later, in April, he stood in the line of fire while outscoring the more experienced Donovan Desmae.

An all-action fighter who doesn’t mind getting hit, Jones has taken Shore’s place as Cage Warriors’ main attraction from Wales but it’s worth remembering that the Pedro Bessa student is much more than a YouTube highlight reel. His judo is excellent, his transitions on the mat are decisive and he kicks to the calf, solar plexus and head with an element of surprise. He has already demanded a few excursions as the away fighter, but he might reach the UFC before Cage Warriors can fulfil that.

Read the rest of the article at Fighters Only 

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Leon Edwards can break out against Jorge Masvidal after beating Rafael dos Anjos

By Alistair Hendrie

Speaking on the Fight Disciples podcast, former Fighters Only editor Nick Peet once said he wished Leon Edwards would market himself more. He wished the Brummie would build his profile to match his skills. He wished he’d grab the mic and challenge another of the leading welterweight pack. I’ve interviewed Edwards twice and can confirm he is a man of few words, but finally, Peet might have got his wish.

After shutting out Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday at UFC on ESPN 4 in Texas, Edwards came out of his shell and threw the gauntlet down to Jorge Masvidal. “I want to silence Masvidal, that fight has to happen, either in the streets or in the cage,” said the 27-year-old, speaking with Karyn Bryant and Tyron Woodley on ESPN. “I believe I’m better than Masvidal everywhere and I’ll get a chance to prove it,” he added during his post-fight scrum.

No prizes for guessing Masvidal’s thoughts after Edwards humbled dos Anjos. The 34-year-old tweeted: “Big difference between putting top ranked opponents to sleep and putting fans to sleep. Don’t call me out no more until I get that belt.” While Masvidal and Edwards are both angling for a shot at welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, this Anglo-American rivalry has been brewing since March, when Masvidal landed a sucker punch on Edwards backstage at UFC London.

Read the rest of the article at Fighters Only.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Should Urijah Faber really face Henry Cejudo after UFC Sacramento?

By Alistair Hendrie

They say life begins at 40 and Urijah Faber is evidence of that. “The California Kid” may be middle-aged, but in stepping out of retirement on Saturday and decking Ricky Simon in 16 seconds at UFC Sacramento, the former WEC featherweight champion could have earned a huge fight with Henry Cejudo, the UFC flyweight and bantamweight titlist.

“Henry, what’s up dog?” said Faber, taking the mic after the bout. “I remember 10 years ago when you challenged me to a fight as a friendly gesture – I’m down to mix that up.” Cejudo responded in kind, tweeting: “Careful what you wish for my corn-rolled princess. You could be the next legend to bend the knee to Triple C.”

Although Cejudo will be out until early 2020 after undergoing shoulder surgery, Faber has made a shrewd and audacious move by targeting his younger rival, presumably for the 135lbs strap. The Californian understands Cejudo’s market value and gets how the UFC could lap up his own storyline – a legend and UFC Hall of Famer returning from the wilderness, taking on the insurmountable king. After all, this is Faber’s best opportunity to earn gold.

Read the rest of the article at Fighters Only