Photo of Jani Salmi. Photo credit: Sammy Hämäläinen. Photo has been cropped.

Following the cancellation of his title fight at Cage Warriors 82, Jani Salmi has some strong words to say about the promotion.

Finland’s Salmi (9-2), was set to face Liverpool’s Chris Fishgold (16-1-1) in the co-main event on April 1, but Cage Warriors confirmed on March 20 that Fishgold had suffered an injury, and would no longer be competing.

However, Salmi, who fights out of Helsinki’s GB Gym, believes that the promotion knew that Fishgold would be unable to compete far sooner than they let on.

He said: “Ian [Dean, Cage Warriors matchmaker] told my manager on the twentieth of this month that Chris was injured and unable to fight. I had a bad feeling long before this, since Cage Warriors was so distant about everything.”

Detailing the process from signing the fight contract up to finding out that the fight would no longer take place, Salmi speculates that the promotion were aware of a potential issue as far back as late February, saying:

“Okay, so I signed with Cage Warriors on the 26 of February. I would have thought that they would buy the flights for me and one corner quite quick after signing, since flight prices go up day after day. I think if they would have been sure that the fight will happen, they would have bought the tickets early to save money. And since they pay like sh-t for the fight, I assume they would also want to save in these expenses.”

However, it wasn’t until mid-March that the red flags started popping up for Salmi, courtesy of Chris Fishgold’s Facebook page.

“The fight was closing up, and there was no word on the flights or accommodation. Then I saw on Fishgold’s Facebook page that Chris was flying out to the French Alps on the 18 of March. Who the f–k flies to the French Alps two weeks before a title bout? I don’t think Fishgold would, since they have a great atmosphere at Next Gen,” he commented on Fishgold’s home gym, in Liverpool.

“So what I think happened, is that Chris and his manager knew that he wouldn’t be able to fight.”

At this point, Salmi had apparently heard nothing back from the promotion, and by now, several of his friends had purchased flights from Finland.

“We also asked about the tickets for the event, that I was supposed to get, but they answered nothing. At the meantime they knew the fight wouldn’t happen, 14 friends of mine bought flights to UK, I bought two flights for my corners worth around €500 with my sponsors help, did the medicals that cost around €750, eye exams €30 and SafeMMA €50.”

As for why Cage Warriors might have delayed the announcement that the fight would no longer be taking place, Salmi has a theory: “Chris is a hometown fighter and the ticket sales would have taken a hit when his cancellation was announced.”

Two weeks away from the event, Cage Warriors allegedly told Salmi that they would not be able to find him a replacement opponent, though he is somewhat skeptical that they tried.

“Do you really think they tried to find a replacement? Two weeks time and they can’t find a replacement, that’s just f–king bullsh-t! And the same happening to Aleksi [Mäntykivi], that’s just a bad joke. Cage Warriors doesn’t give a flying f–k about us fighters.”

Also talking about a later development about another Finnish fighter, who was set to fight on the same card, Aleksi Mäntykivi, had his fight cancelled the same week as Salmi. In this instance, Martin Stapleton, who was set to face Mäntykivi, withdrew through injury.

Going forward, Salmi has been offered a slot on a later Cage Warriors card, though he claims that there has been no word as to any financial compensation from the promotion. In any case, it appears unlikely that Salmi will ever compete under the Cage Warriors banner, given his stance on the company. He said:

Salmi said: “They told me that they’ll try to match me on a future show.

“Nothing about any financial compensations, but we are now trying to get them anyway. If they won’t pay anything, this whole event just took a lot of my money for nothing.

“I’m not fighting for Cage Warriors ever and that’s a promise.”

Life goes on for Salmi, who looks to extend his win streak to nine as he fights in May at Finland Fight Night 14 in Turku, against an opponent yet to be determined. Having only fought in his homeland to date, Salmi is looking forward to fighting in front of his fans, though he noted that fighting in enemy territory in Liverpool wouldn’t have phased him, in any case.

“I’m very excited to fight in front of home crowd and knowing that the crowd will be full of my good friends and fans!

“About the ‘enemy territory’, sure I will face this situation in the near future, but I don’t care about that because I know I can win no matter where the fight is.

“I’m happy to fight for FNF, they respect me and home crowd is always awesome. I’m just mostly pissed off at Cage Warriors about the way they dealt with things, no respect and interest towards the fighter.”

Finally, Salmi is refusing to let this setback get in the way of his career.

“Within two years I’m in UFC, is it two months or two years, hard to say.”

MMA Plus have reached out to Cage Warriors for comment, but have yet to receive a formal response as of the time of publication.