Cage Warriors lightweight champion Chris Fishgold can cement his star status says Next Generation Liverpool head coach, Paul Rimmer ahead of ECHO Arena title defence.
Fishgold (16-1-1) defends his title against Alexander Jacobsen inside the ECHO Arena, Liverpool on Saturday, October 28.
The 25-year-old hasn’t fought since a November 2016 decision over Nic Herron-Webb and was forced to sit out Cage Warriors’ last hometown show and the past year through injury.
Considering his lengthy lay-off, coach Rimmer – who has nurtured Fishgold since his pro debut seven years ago – believes Cage Warriors 88 is the perfect point of return for Fishgold who will fly the flag for Next-Gen in absence of teammate, Paddy Pimblett.
“It’s important for Chris to cement himself as the star that he kind of is,” Rimmer told MMAPlus when explaining the magnitude of Cage Warriors 88. “He doesn’t get as much credit from the UK MMA scene as he probably should really get.
“I suppose everyone’s a lot quieter than Paddy but it’s more about Chris has a different sort of personality when it comes to fights. If you’re coming to watch Chris fight, you’re coming to watch him fight. There’s nothing that he loves more, he is a true fighter.”
Rimmer explains Pimblett’s absence and questions over concussion claims
Meanwhile, former featherweight champion Pimblett was forced off the card with a concussion, which pushed back his first appearance since he lost the title to Nad Narimani in April.
The decision to withdraw “The Baddy” from his bout with Vlado Sikic has been met with disbelief from certain figures, including Narimani, who have questioned the legitimacy of Pimblett’s injury.
“All I can say is, I was there when the concussion happened, I know what happened, people want to say other stuff, that’s entirely up to them,” said Rimmer, swatting away other accusations relating to Pimblett’s removal.
“Especially with the sport and the way it’s developing now, concussions, head injuries, anything like that, it’s a very serious matter, so we have to protect him in terms of where his health is going to be.“
Rimmer: Fishgold in the ‘best shape’ he’s been in a long time
With Pimblett now in the position which Fishgold experienced earlier this year, Rimmer is hoping to erase any doubts contrived by Fishgold’s last outing against Herron-Webb.
That fight in London remains one of his most difficult to-date, where Fishgold showed great resilience to thwart his American opponent’s late charge to snatch the title on points.
“The thing with the Nic Herron-Webb fight, which is kind of important, just like Paddy had with the Erosa fight, he had it kind of short notice,” Rimmer explained about his fighter’s deflated performance. “It was took quite quickly after his last fight, so he had a tough weight cut.
“In the fight [Herron-Webb] actually did a different gameplan than the one we had sort of planned out, so there’s a few little factors.”
With plenty of time to reflect on his last title defence, Rimmer insists that Fishgold is hungrier than ever to make a statement and he expects him to do so at the expense of Norwegian Jacobsen on Saturday night.
“What I can say to you, the Chris Fishgold that is going to turn up for the Echo arena on Saturday is the best in shape, most hungry Chris Fishgold that I’ve had in the gym for a long time,” said Rimmer.
“He’s had a long time to prepare for this fight, he’s very pumped for this, he can’t wait for the fight which is really, really scary. He’s been looking a real beast in training.”
Everytime Cage Warriors run a show at the ECHO Arena, the Scouse fans generate a unique level of electricity unparalleled in England and with Saturday night expected to be no different, Rimmer explains the significance of the North West’s support.
“It’s very, very special because in the past, you can only go to a UFC event and get that sort of atmosphere. Seeing it for a smaller promotion and for people that I train day in, day out and seeing how much they are loved by the city is incredible, an unreal feeling.”
With the success of Fishgold and Pimblett under his belt, Rimmer aims to continue his headship at Next-Gen with a move to a bigger training facility a stone’s throw from their current building.
At 12,000 square foot, the new location is roughly three times bigger than the current gym setup and it’s an improvement which Rimmer believes will seriously aid in the development of his athletes.
“It’s going to be a lot better for us to be honest with you because at this moment in time I split a lot of classes up anyway, so we have beginners classes, we have advanced classes and stuff so it’s going to make it actually a lot easier on the timetable because I’m going to be able to put more classes on because I’m going to have more space.”