Lewis Long - Photo Credit: Dolley Clew / Cage Warriors

Lew Long aims to turn his aspiration of a UFC fight with “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead into a reality this Saturday, as he headlines a Cage Warriors event for the first time.

The fighting Welshman will face Che Mills at Cage Warriors 83 in Newport, Wales and Long (14-4) feels a win over the former UFC fighter will solidify his place as the best welterweight talent in the United Kingdom.

Cage Warriors received some backlash in the build-up to the fight, with expectations that Long would receive his deserved chance at the welterweight championship following his superb victory over Ryan Scope. Instead, “The Foot” received papers to fight Mills, a fight which CW previously tried to book in October last year.

“It will definitely cement my place at the top,” Long told MMA Plus. “You have to look at it like it’s live on BT Sport, UFC Fight Pass, it gets me some sponsorship in, it keeps me active, so from that he’s still got a very highly positive record, he’s no bum, so he’s a good name with a winning record and it’s live on BT Sport, giving me and him the publicity, and a fight. If I wait now what am I going to get next? If I don’t fight now, who says now that Inman or Brad Wheeler win the next one or two and then who’s going to get a shot? Well it’s not going to be me is it, I’m stood around doing f**k all, twiddling my thumbs. Like I said, you’ve got to get in there and got to keep winning.”

Responding to claims that he deserved a home country clash against title holder Karl Amoussou, Long said: “It’s a piece of metal, it doesn’t mean anything to me you know, I’m headlining the card anyway, that’s as good as fighting for the title except you don’t get a piece of metal after. I only ever want to fight the best fighters.”

Known for his fiery temper and brutally blunt rants on social media, the 28-year-old fighter was in fine form once again. This time however, Long wasn’t aiming his scornful diatribe at just one individual, instead placing the entire British welterweight division in his crosshairs.

“I think the UK welterweight division is f***ed, I think it’s crap,” Long said. “There’s strong up and comers, well you’ve got a couple guys now, that Alex Lohore, Carl Booth, Craig White but other than that, they’re all has-beens. Che [Mills], [John] Maguire, what is there? There’s no shining light of the welterweight division. Yes, [Brad] Wheeler’s good, but he’s just had one fight, against who? If I went to BAMMA, I’d beat Alex, I’d get the title, simple. I’ve looked for that fight before, I’ve asked for that fight before.” 

Long details the story behind why he wants to fight “Judo” Jimmy

With Long defiant that it’s ‘when’ as opposed to ‘if’ he beats Mills on Saturday, the MAT Academy athlete was rather direct about his post-Cage Warriors 83 plans. Aiming for his 15th win as a professional fighter, Long candidly called for a UFC call-up, so he can take his dream fight against idol Jim Wallhead.

For some, Long’s call-out of fellow Brit Wallhead (29-10) may feel slightly arbitrary, but the Welshman detailed his long-time connection with “Judo” Jimmy, which dates back to April 2008.

Long (whose background is also in Judo) didn’t immediately take to MMA when he began practicing the sport alongside Ricky Wright in 2008. However, Long admitted his first experience of an actual mixed martial arts event is what swung things for him.

That event? Enter the Rough House 6, April 2008, a show which Wallhead; alongside a plethora of notable Rough House gym contingent competed on.

Embarking on the near three-hour drive from the Valleys to Nottingham to corner Lola Bamgbala, Long witnessed Wallhead; in his 19th pro-MMA contest, stop Tom Haddock in the second round of their fight.

“We’re going back many years now when I was just doing kickboxing and judo, I went to the gym and I met the infamous Ricky Wright, we began training together,” Long explained. “Then he asked me to come to a show in Nottingham to corner a guy. It was Enter the Roughhouse, we had the same hotel as the fighters, with Paul Daley, Dan Hardy, Jimmy Wallhead, who were all there with me and I was just a dumb kid. So I watched Jimmy Wallhead fight and I chatted to him after. I remember being in a room with so many people much harder than myself, and now they’re all legends.” 

Now, almost a decade removed, Long feels he is deserving of his career defining fight against Wallhead. In fact, Long went on to claim, that if he was only ever to get one opportunity at the UFC, there would only be one man he wants to face.

“[I want to] fight Wallhead in UFC in the UK. That’s what I want. I’ve wanted that fight for years, he’s always been way too high level but I’m up there now and he’s in the UFC, I can’t have the fight until I’m there but if I’m only ever allowed one fight in the UFC, that’s fight I want to showcase what I got. He’s a UK legend, a worldwide legend soon, I want to fight him on a big show and beat him on a big show.”

Wallhead already has a fight booked against Luan Chagas at UFC 212 on June 3, which would be a considerably quick turnaround for the 33-year-old if they were to meet at UFC Glasgow on July 16. But for Long, whether the fight materialises or not, it’s definitely an occasion which he more than deserves if he gets past Mills on Saturday.