How Does Cage Warriors’ Struggles Impact MMA?

Cage Warriors has long been the top promotion in the U.K.  They have had a massive impact in and around Western Europe.  They are the Cage_Warriors_Logopromotional home for most of the top U.K. and Irish fighters.  Cage Warriors was where Conor McGregor got his start.  In recent days, it has become evident that the promotion’s future is in question.  In a surprise move, Cage Warriors CEO, Graham Boylan stepped down.  This has caused Cage Warriors to cancel their March event as they search for a new CEO.  While those in and around Cage Warriors insist that the promotion will resume when a new CEO is found, I am hearing conflicting reports.  I am hearing that the future is bleak.

I cannot understate the impact that Cage Warriors dying would have on the MMA landscape in the U.K.  There are other promotions in England, but none quite like Cage Warriors.  There would be a serious void in that space if Cage Warriors really does go away.  I am hoping that what I am hearing is not true.

I don’t know what it would take to save and resurrect Cage Warriors.  Some investor with deep pockets, perhaps.  Perhaps in days gone by, UFC would consider sweeping in and buying Cage Warriors or infusing some cash into the promotion.  However, in wake of a serious anti-trust lawsuit, it seems unlikely that they will do anything to cast more fuel onto that already smoldering fire.  Personally, I would not be against UFC having some type of European promotion that they used to build fighters in the U.K. and all through Europe.  They have been known to invest money in markets that they value.

Cage Warriors had been in discussions with the UFC about a Fight Pass deal that would be similar to the one InvictaFC landed.  Reports are that Zuffa low balled them and a deal was unable to be reached.  I am not sure if this played into the promotion’s struggles, but it certainly did not help things.  A promotion like UFC benefits from Cage Warriors succeeding.  Perhaps UFC would consider signing some of the top Cage Warriors prospects.

The biggest disappointment is to the fighters.  Cage Warriors has a very solid roster.  They have several MMA Sun top prospects contracted to them.  I am not sure what will become of them.  Cage Warriors has exclusive fight contracts, but they are giving fighters a one fight exception to fight elsewhere while their business is sorted out.  My concern is that business won’t be sorted out.  That would leave several very good fighters without a fighting home.  Most will find opportunity somewhere.  However, contracts are interesting things.  I am not sure of who the fighters under the Cage Warriors banner are actually contracted to.  It isn’t as simple as fighters being free and clear to fight anywhere.  Perhaps BAMMA, M-1 or KSW picks up some pieces.  Perhaps a new promotion emerges.  Or better yet, Cage Warriors arises from the ashes like the Phoenix.

I also would feel horribly for their staff.  I know that the remaining Cage Warriors staff works tirelessly.  Their matchmaker, Ian Dean, is a guy I have long heralded as one of the best matchmakers in the world.  The UFC has talked about hiring a third matchmaker to focus on international events.  Ian Dean would be the guy for the job.  He knows MMA and the European fight scene better than anyone.

We are hoping that all we are hearing is wrong.  We are hoping Cage Warriors finds a new CEO and new investors who will lead them in the right direction.  Cage Warriors’ demise would be really bad news for MMA in Western Europe and more specifically, the U.K.

Here are my top Cage Warriors fighters….

1. Nicolas Dalby – Welterweight

2. Stevie Ray – Lightweight

3. Tom Breese – Welterweight

4. Pannie Kianzad – Women’s Bantamweight

5. Chris Fishgold – Featherweight

6. Arnold Allen – Featherweight

7. Toni Tauru – Bantamweight

8. Alex Enlund – Featherweight

9. Jack Marshman – Middleweight

10. Danny Roberts – Welterweight

Also:  Saul Rogers, Che Mills, Curt Warburton, Mohsen Bahari, Tommy McCafferty, Karl Moore, Nad Narimani

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