Martin Stapleton, BAMMA 25. BAMMA / Marc Moggridge 2016. No unauthorised use without written consent.

Following confirmation of his signing with Cage Warriors, Martin Stapleton detailed his road to the promotion, his debut date and a potential ‘sell out’ fight with Featherweight champion Paddy Pimblett.

The news was made official by CWFC owner Graham Boylan on Twitter, following prior reports that the UK MMA veteran had made the jump from BAMMA.

At the end of 2016 BAMMA Lightweight champion Stapleton was scheduled to face Ronnie Mann for the promotion’s vacant 145lb belt. However, the fight never materialized and “.50 Cal” was pulled from the fight, citing ‘personal reasons’.

Once news surfaced that Stapleton and BAMMA had agreed a mutual end to his contract, many questioned the legitimacy of Stapes’s claims.

The SBG Manchester fighter was unable to divulge the full story behind his exit from BAMMA but did explain how a huge opportunity from the United States played a part in his eventual arrival at CWFC.

“About four weeks before the fight was due to be held,” explained Stapes. “I was contacted on my Facebook by one of the largest mixed martial arts organizations in the world, I’m not allowed to say which due to a non-disclosure agreement. They asked me to go over to the States and do a reality TV program and they told me that I had to be contract free at that point and I had to get out of my fight with BAMMA.”

Stapleton could not reveal the name of the promotion, although it should be noted that the UFC make contestants of The Ultimate Fighter reality series sign non-disclosure agreements.

However, even though things looked positive for the Rochdale fighter to return to the USA – he had previously competed for Bellator MMA – complications halted the show’s production and saw his career breakthrough suffer a major setback.

He went on to say: “They released me from the contract, and about a week before I was due to go out to the States to get all the casting stuff done and then all of a sudden it went pretty cold.”

Despite the complication, the SBG athlete maintained a positive approach as he began to negotiate with other promotions. The 33-year-old opted not to re-negotiate with BAMMA, with his ultimate UFC goal a major factor in his decision to join Boylan’s CWFC.

“First of all thank you to BAMMA for releasing me. They didn’t have to do that but they did it as a kind gesture to help me with my career. My ultimate goal is to get into the UFC and ultimately win the UFC world championship and I think if you’re in Europe, the way to do that is through Cage Warriors.

“Cage Warriors came up with the best deals both financially and the amount of PR behind us. In the end the deal they came up with, there’s no one else who could have really matched. There were shows in Abu Dhabi that were offering more money but who the f–k’s watching them?”

The man behind the Full Contact Performance Centre also revealed exclusively to MMA Plus that his deal with CWFC is a five-fight, 18-month contract, with his aim to be signed to the UFC by the end.

Stapleton also revealed he will be making his debut at Cage Warriors 80, the same card where teammate Matt Inman faces Karl Amoussou for the Welterweight title. Stapes claimed his aspiration is to face Featherweight champion Pimblett and ‘sell out’ an arena in the process.

“I’m going to be fighting on Matt’s undercard, my debut is going to be February 18 and Cage Warriors are currently figuring out the opponent, they’ve got a few guys who want to fight me.

“I’m going down to 145, this first fights going to be a catchweight of 150. I’m hoping I come off this fight injury free with a highlight reel knockout and I go into April 1 at the Echo Arena. I don’t know what’s going on yet, but if Paddy Pimblett hasn’t got an opponent I think me and him should get it on.

“There’s no reason on the planet why this fight can’t happen. From people who have signed to Cage Warriors, there’s no bigger fight than me and Paddy Pimblett. That fight will sell out. You know Paddy, he’s game as they come, he’ll fight anyone, I’ll fight anyone so I don’t see why that fight can’t happen.”

The decision, Paddy Pimblett vs. Julian Erosa from CW Unplugged – Photo Dolly Clew

Reports of Stapleton’s pending move to CWFC caused quite a stir online, when top ranked fighter Brendan Loughnane claimed they had agreed to fight on Tanko FC 4 in May.

Contrastingly, Stapleton refuted these claims, strongly asserting nothing was ever official for him to fight the Mancunian.

“The key word is apparently, I’ve got no idea. Whoever has put them words there is a bullsh–ter because we’ve never spoke about that. The only time Brendan’s name ever got brought up to me was the beginning of December, with a possibility for me to fight him at ACB [Supersonic].

“But I got a reply stating he was fighting Mike Wilkinson, but they don’t know if he’ll take a fight with me after that and that was the only bit of the conversation we had about Brendan. So whoever’s said to Brendan is just downright lying. There’s been no discussion about fighting Brendan on Tanko.”