Three Thoughts on Cage Warriors 145

With an army of Irish fighters descending on London’s Indigo arena tonight for the biggest Cage Warriors card of the year, I wanted to sit down and write down some thoughts.

So, let’s chat…

  1. Whatever happens in tonight’s main event, both Paul Hughes and Jordan Vucenic deserve to be in the UFC, as far as I’m concerned.

    We’ve seen them tested. We’ve seen them evolve. We’ve seen every facet of their skillsets. They’ve already proven their level.When Morgan Charriere was drawing all the hype as the next big star to emerge from the UK promotion, both Hughes and Vucenic went and beat him.

    The “proven path to the UFC” lies through Cage Warriors gold. We’ve seen it time and time again. And the reason why Vucenic vs Hughes 2 IS the biggest rematch in Cage Warriors history, is because they’re both already champions. Their first fight was, is, and always will be contentious. In the 2 years since that fateful night, the pair have beaten the exact same opponents. It’s impossible to separate them.

    So what now? 5 rounds for redemption, glory, or reaffirmation (depending on who emerges victorious). Brad Wharton absolutely nailed his preview of this title unification fight, so I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty. Go read his words. But when it’s all said and done and a rightful champion is crowned, there’ll be one man picking himself up off the floor. A man who has already earned his spot.

    • James Webb and Paddy McCorry deserve all the respect!

      I’ll be the first to admit, this matchup took me by complete surprise. I was shocked that both fighters agreed to it. And that’s what makes it so great.

      In a time when we’re seeing an increasing number of Irish fighters in lopsided matchups (no matter what they or promotions are telling us, it’s happening!), James Webb vs Paddy McCorry is the antidote. It takes big fucking balls to be like “you know what, I’m going to storm into London and take on a former Cage Warriors champion in my promotional debut!” That’s what Paddy McCorry is doing here.

      Sure, Webb is on a two-fight skid, suffering back-to-back KOs, but he’s still a former champion. He has over 6 times as many pro fights as McCorry. He’s the best opponent McCorry has faced to date by a country mile too. A massive test, but what an opportunity. Speak to McCorry’s teammates and sparring partners. “He’s special!”. “McCorry is a future Cage Warriors champion!” There’s a growing buzz reverberating out of West Belfast, and I’ve no doubt it will sweep the country if McCorry gets the job done. It’s off to the races then.

      And how about Webb? He didn’t have to take this fight. He’s already paid his dues. He’s gritted through wars against Nathias Frederick. He’s scratching and clawing to regain the status he once garnered in those yellow gloves. He doesn’t deserve a matchup against a young, hungry, undefeated 24-year-old prospect, especially when Webb is already on a two-fight skid. But he did it anyway. He backs himself.

      Both camps believe they know something the other doesn’t.

      I only know that both Webb and McCorry deserve our respect.

    • Caolan Loughran has “IT,” but I’m not sure what that “IT” is just yet.

      I’m not sure I’ve come across a fighter in Irish MMA that has more naysayers amongst his peers than Caolan Loughran. I’m not entirely sure why.

      There were those who said he’d only fought cans, and prior to his entry into Cage Warriors, I agreed! But that curtain has been closed, at least for me anyway. His last two performances have proven he can handle a step up in competition, particularly the Festus Ahorlu fight.

      Perhaps it’s the self-confidence to routinely proclaim he has the beating of currently ranked UFC contenders, but it’s that side I find most intriguing.

      Listening to Caolan speak lately, I’ve increasingly noticed that “The Don” has that incredibly rare ability to make people believe. McGregor had it in abundance. It’s what made everything so exciting. It’s what made fools like me pause at the possibility that he might just beat the greatest boxer of our generation with little to no experience in the sport. Now, I’m not comparing Caolan Loughran and Conor McGregor. Loughran has a long, long way to go. But if he can back up his words, and do it on a consistent basis, then we’re about to have a fun time over the next few years.

      Luke Shanks is an absolute savage. Make no mistake, if he was able to make weight consistently at flyweight, I fully believe he’d be in the UFC right now. This is the biggest jump in competition Loughran has faced to date. A stern litmus test. It’s time to back up his self-belief and posturing with action (again).

      While there will continue to be naysayers, all Loughran needs to do now is keep being himself, and keep answering the call. I don’t fully know just how good the Tyrone fighter is just yet, but a win over Luke Shanks would be a significant scalp to add to his trophy cabinet. That raises the bar.

      For my money, it should warrant a title shot. And that’s when the fun really begins!
    Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).

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