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Cage Warriors Fighting Championships.

Cage Warriors Announce New Policies For Future Shows

Director Graham Boylan speaks exclusively to www.YourMMA.tv about how the promotion are looking to move UK MMA forward.

Author: Jay Furness


Since their inception back in 2002, Cage Warriors have been one of the frontrunners in the UK and European MMA scene. Long term fight fans will recall the ‘Strike Force’ and ‘Enter The Rough House’ series of events that, amongst others, brought some of the finest worldwide talent to England. The likes of Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, Jeff Monson, Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy have all held CWFC titles at some point or another, thus backing up the credentials.

However, troubles within the group and the domestic circuit saw the company become sedentary in terms of promoting fight shows for two years. Fans reminisced about the ‘good old days’ and yearned for a return. Enter Graham Boylan, a new takeover and a new lease of life for the company. Cage Warriors have now promoted four shows under the new management and, as Boylan so aptly puts it, “we’ve taken a dead brand and given it life.”

The return has been welcomed. International stars have flooded back and top quality production and matchmaking have been the order of the day. It’s just the start though, as Boylan has big plans and Cage Warriors are looking to take further steps to improve their shows and the scene domestically by introducing commission-like procedures and safety measures.

“The scene here is still like the Wild West and it’s going to take someone to step up and take the hit financially to clean the sport up,” Boylan asserted, setting the precedence for the new plans.

In a time when fighters can get knocked out and promoters will eagerly book them to fight a local ticket seller on a show the next week, it’s obvious the safety of the combatants isn’t everyone’s main concern. The idea that it would take a major incident to be the catalyst for change is a foreboding thought, but Boylan and Cage Warriors are hoping they can get others on board by setting a positive example.

“If people follow suit then it’s great for the sport. It’ll be clear then who is in it for the money and who is in it to help build UK MMA. We’re not going to rely on booking guys who will sell tickets or hope to make a lot of money on the door. We’re in it for the long haul and we’re going to have to take a hit to get to where we want to be, but we’ll get there.”

Any initial cynicism can be understood – implementing strategies at a major cost to the company without an immediate return isn’t going to be easy, but “that’s not an issue”. The return for the CWFC investment will be in the quality of fighters they can bring in. After all, what self respecting professional wouldn’t want to fight on a show where they will be treated as such, with the additional bonus of international television and online exposure?

The vast chasm between fighting on smaller domestic promotions and hitting the bigger shows in the USA (the end goal for almost every fighter plying their trade in the UK) has to be bridged and, with the help of new Cage Warriors team additions John Tandy and UFC referee Marc Goddard, the promotion are hoping to do that to best prepare fighters for the next step. Not every fighter will make that next step, but to be appreciated and fight under a professional set up with one of the premier brands in Europe can only be a positive, no matter what level these athletes go on to.

“This is a business and these measures aren’t exactly going to bring in a big finance,” Boylan admitted. “But we’ll step up and do what we do, and when everything is in place then we’ll worry about it. It’ll come back to us with the fighters.

“If you want to be a pro, then you have to have the experience and be groomed like one. Contracts are pretty stringent in the USA and this is going to be the closest you’ll get to experiencing that, otherwise it’s going to be a big shock to a lot of guys when they head over there.”

Director Boylan and the team certainly have the right vision to move their brand forward, and if this can give other promoters an incentive to enforce similar conditions then it can only be positive for the sport here in the UK. With constant talk of a governing body but not much action, self-policing may pay more dividends than the alternative; nothing.

Here’s a rundown of the new implementations:

  • Two qualified cutmen at each event, so unqualified cornermen don’t have to accept responsibility.
  • Three referees on the night.
  • Head official Marc Goddard and head cutman John Tandy to oversee proceedings.
  • No Vaseline in changing rooms; all to be applied at the cage door.
  • Official in the changing rooms at all times to oversee what is going on.
  • Vigilance on fighter safety procedure e.g. a ‘no fight’ policy for fighters getting knocked out or stopped within a certain timeframe.
  • Hands wrapped by official and signed off.
  • By 2012, having qualified MMA medics and working to bring in bloods and MRIs for all fighters.
  • Seminars by head officials to educate other shows and promoters.

Keep up to date with the promotion via www.cagewarriors.com and make sure you're following them on Twitter (@CageWarriors).

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