After taking over Wales’ top MMA organisation last year, Cage Warriors have big things planned for the region.
Cage Warriors acquired South Wales promotion Pain Pit MMA early last year, and now operating under the Cage Warriors Wales name, promoter Richard Shore discusses how this move came to fruition.
He Said: “I have always had a brilliant relationship with [Cage Warriors President] Graham Boylan. He approached me in January last year to discuss a possible partnership between ourselves.
“He told me all about the Cage Warriors relaunch and said he was keen to give Welsh fighters the same exposure as the Irish had received over the past few years.
“After sitting down over a cup of coffee we came to an agreement with just about everything and Cage Warriors Wales was born.”
Though now operating under the same name, Shore is still in charge of things when the show comes to Wales, though he does get some help from Cage Warriors President Graham Boylan.
On their relationship, Richard said: “Graham is cut from the same cloth as myself. He is very direct and you know where you are with him. There’s no bullsh-t from either of us. He is very supportive but also has enough faith to let me do my thing without interfering.
“We get on very well but I do get on his nerves with my constant calls sorting out arrangements!”
Cage Warriors being the proving ground for Welsh MMA
Cage Warriors have made two trips to Wales since the merger, with names such as Jack Marshman, Lew Long and Josh Reed standing out as Wales’ top talent. Indeed, Marshman, who is also coached by Richard Shore at Tillery Combat MMA, has since gone on to fight for the UFC. This has set the standard going forward, with Shore saying:
“We will continue to showcase more Welsh talent, in addition to putting on very strong main cards which will be as good as anything that you can see in Europe.
“I would love to see us give another Welsh fighter the platform to get signed by the UFC.”
Indeed, many Welsh fighters will get the chance to impress next month as the promotion is running an Academy show on March 4, a show which Shore is very excited about, especially considering that his son, Jack Shore (3-0), is competing in the co-main event.
“The main event is a great match-up between Phil Wells and Aaron Khalid. I think the winner will get a good high profile fight on the televised event on May 6th.
“Jack continues to improve week on week and he handles the pressure incredibly well.
“Richard Williams from Port Talbot is a great unbeaten prospect but has a tough fight in Dan Good. If he wins that I think people will start talking about him.”
Several fighters on next months’ card fight out of Richard’s Tillery Combat gym, and coaching and promoting on the same show makes for a hectic evening. Thankfully, Richard has help in the form of business partner Colin Mould.
“On the night of the event, it is very stressful.
“I’m fortunate that my business partner Colin Mould picks up the organisation of the event once the first fight starts so I can concentrate on the guys I have fighting.
“I am physically and mentally exhausted by the time the event finishes and need several days to recover!”
Cage Warriors set to return to Wales on May 6
The upcoming show will not be televised, as it clashes with Cage Warriors 81 in Dublin. However, Richard revealed exclusively that the next time Cage Warriors visits Wales, on May 6, the main card will be broadcast live on both BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass.
As for the legacy of Pain Pit, it still exists, to some extent.
“We still put a small show on once a year in the valleys for the local amateurs. One thing though is that I am really proud of what myself and my partner in the business Colin Mould achieved. We took an event from scratch and built it into one of the best grassroots events in the UK.
“The fact that Cage Warriors came to us shows that we did something very positive with the event.
“When people look back in a few years at fighters records who are competing in the UFC and Bellator they will see that many built their reputations on the show.
“I like to think that people will say that Pain Pit was the show that put Welsh MMA on the map. Jack Marshman, Brett Johns, Mark Godbeer, are just a few of the names that competed on Pain Pit shows.”