Cage Warriors is Europe’s longest running MMA promotion and has housed some of the continent’s best for as long as they’ve been putting on events. While Cage Warriors titles have been held by some legends of the sport, many of their premier fighters move on from the European promotion to fight the world’s best in the UFC or other large promotions. With another UFC London card on the horizon, many Cage Warriors alumni are putting the final touches on their training camps, hoping to continue to climb the ladder towards UFC gold. The following list is in no particular order and is a small sample size of the amazing talent to come out of Cage Warriors and go on to fight in the UFC.
Paddy Pimblett is set to make his third walk to the Octagon at UFC London this weekend. Through two UFC appearances, Pimblett is undefeated with two first round finishes, but it was his time in Cage Warriors that moulded him into the UFC calibre fighter he is today. Pimblett fought 14 times in the European promotion, going 11-3 over the course of his eight-year tenure. He scored nine finishes in those 11 wins, and even captured and defended the Featherweight title in 2016. The Scouser is already realizing his potential as a crossover star, drawing massive crowds at both the O2 arena in March, and the UFC Apex in September of 2021 (albeit a limited capacity massive crowd). If Pimblett can get by Jordan Leavitt, who is a big step up in competition, he’ll propel himself even further into MMA stardom. At the time of writing this, 68.9% of the Verdict Community expect Paddy to get the job done
Though he just suffered his first pro loss less than one week ago, Jack Shore is a Cage Warriors alumni who is expected to do great things across the pond in the UFC. Shore went undefeated in Cage Warriors, boasting an impressive 10-0 throughout his time with the promotion. Like Pimblett, Shore captured and defended a Cage Warriors Title, finishing his opponent in both matches–one by KO and one by submission. If Shore lives up to the lofty expectations that have been placed on his shoulders, he’ll be yet another Cage Warriors alumni to see great success at the highest level of MMA.
Entering the UFC, Ian Machado Garry held an undefeated professional record of 6-0, with all six of his wins coming in Cage Warriors. The Irishman made his way to a Cage Warriors title shot after finishing the first five opponents that were put in front of him, four of which were knockouts. Once he got the title shot, he made sure not to waste it and came away with the belt, defeating Jack Grant by unanimous decision. Machado Garry would never defend the title however, as he vacated the Welterweight belt in order to sign with the UFC in 2021. ‘The Future’ is now 3-0 in the UFC, with wins over Jordan Williams, Darian Weeks, and Gabe Green. Ian is yet another awesome prospect in the UFC’s loaded Welterweight Division.
Molly McCann has been turning heads recently with her bubbly personality alongside her highlight reel spinning elbow knockout of Luana Carolina. Paired with her fellow Scouser Paddy Pimblett, ‘Meatball’ Molly has become the figurehead of female UK MMA. Though her UFC tenure got off to a slightly tumultuous start, McCann didn’t have the same trouble in Cage Warriors. Her time in Cage Warriors was flawless, as she went 3-0, picking up two decision wins before knocking out Bryony Tyrell to win the inaugural Cage Warriors Women’s Flyweight Championship. It was that knockout that would see Molly get signed by the UFC. She is currently scheduled to face Hannah Goldy at UFC London this weekend and should she get it done, she could see herself moving quickly up the Women’s Flyweight rankings towards the dominant Valentina Shevchenko.
Though most MMA fans know her for her incredible UFC run which included six title victories, Joanna Jędrzejczyk did appear in Cage Warriors before she joined the UFC. In her final bout before getting signed to the UFC, Jędrzejczyk defeated Rosi Sexton, a Cage Warriors, Bellator, and UFC veteran by knockout to improve to 5-0 as a pro. The fight took place at Cage Warriors 69 in 2014, and Sexton was no easy fight, as she holds a win over Roxanne Modafari and shared the cage with Gina Carano, and Jessica Andrade before ever facing Jędrzejczyk. Although brief, it is important to mention Jędrzejczyk’s past success before ever stepping foot in the Octagon.
Jack Hermansson has been a UFC Middleweight mainstay for some time now, but his run of elite success began in Cage Warriors. ‘The Joker’ won the Cage Warriors Middleweight Title in July of 2014 with a submission win over Norman Paraisy. He then defended the belt twice, stopping Deyan Topalski with strikes, and Alan Carlos by KO. He then vacated the title to make the transition to the UFC. Overall, Hermansson went undefeated in Cage Warriors, going a perfect 7-0. Jack has had his fair share of ups and downs in the UFC, and is now set to face Chris Curtis at UFC London this Saturday. As it stands at the time this is being written, the Verdict Community is split down the middle with 50% predicting Hermansson to win.
Most of the entries on this list fought in Cage Warriors not all that long ago, but with Gegard Mousasi, one has to go all the way back to 2006 to recall his lone Cage Warriors fight. Mousasi had spent time in regional European MMA promotions as well as Pride and M-1 before fighting for the Cage Warriors Middleweight Championship against Greg Bouchelaghem. Mousasi won the title but vacated it not long after to return to M-1. Much like Joanna, ‘The Dreamcatcher’s’ Cage Warriors tenure was short but emphatic, as he won the title and continued on to do many more amazing things in his storied MMA career.
Arnold Allen has flown under the radar of many UFC fans. He is currently riding a nine-fight winning streak and holds a pro record of 18-1 overall. He most recently picked up a stoppage victory over Dan Hooker at the last UFC London card and his name has been talked about within the title picture at 145 with Alexander Volkanovski’s recent injury. Allen entered Cage Warriors after just three pro fights and fought six fights in the promotion before moving on to Made 4 The Cage and then the UFC. Allen won five of his six appearances in Cage Warriors and finished four of his five wins, two by knockout and two by submission. Arnold is yet another young up and coming European talent that spent precious time developing under the Cage Warriors banner and it is surely paying off for him in the present day.
In an article centred around European and more specifically, British MMA; how could Michael Bisping not be on the list? Bisping was the first and only British UFC champion and is now firmly sitting in the UFC Hall of Fame. Bisping’s storied MMA career spanned across multiple decades, starting in 2004 and retiring in 2017. Somewhere in between his pro debut and his UFC debut, ‘The Count’ found himself in Cage Warriors, and what a lasting impact he made. His first Cage Warriors fight came at Cage Warriors 11 where he met Dave Radford for the Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight Title. He obliterated Radford, scoring the knockout win in just under three minutes. From there, he defended the belt three times, finishing Miika Mehmet, Jakob Lovstad, and Ross Poinon. It was then that the UFC came calling and Michael joined The Ultimate Fighter Season 3. He would go on to win the season and never fought outside the UFC again.
How could I not include Conor McGregor on this list. Not only was he the first ever two division champion in the UFC’s history, but he did the same in Cage Warriors almost exactly four years prior. Despite his storied Cage Warriors legacy, it was not always smooth sailing for Conor in the European promotion. He lost his first appearance in Cage Warriors via submission but then managed to put together a six fight winning streak, all of which came by stoppage before being granted the title shot at Cage Warriors 47. McGregor would win the Featherweight title via submission against Dave Hill before challenging Ivan Buchinger for the Lightweight title six months later. ‘The Notorious’ would steamroll Buchinger, taunting and showboating en route to a first round knockout win, foreshadowing what was to come in the UFC. Also foreshadowing his tenure in the UFC, Conor did not defend either belt as he was signed by the UFC in early 2013. From there the rest is history.
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