Just hours before Chris Fishgold takes on Alexander Jacobsen in the CW88 Main Event, Cage Warriors commentator and Sports Journalist Brad Wharton previews the action.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole; it’s the lifeblood of the combat sports business. Whether it’s mixed martial artists, boxers or professional wrestlers, half of the appeal as a fan is becoming invested in the larger than life characters and the scenarios they play out on the battle field. The headlines for Saturday night’s Cage Warriors main event, steeped in hype and creativity as they are, ring a different, more legitimate kind of truth; Chris Fishgold is on the cusp of achieving something hitherto unheard of in this iteration of Cage Warriors… Alexander Jacobsen meanwhile, is here to crush the hopes and dreams of a man… and the city that supports him.
Following his unbeaten 2013 run in the featherweight division, most critics agreed that it would be a case of when, not if, Chris Fishgold would hold a Cage Warriors title. When he returned to the promotion in 2016 as a lightweight, bigger, stronger and more refined than ever, the odds on him capturing a big gold belt shortened significantly.
He didn’t disappoint.
If there is one universal truth about Cage Warriors, it’s that life doesn’t get any easier when you’re king of the hill. Everybody knows where our champions end up; if you hold a Cage Warriors title, you enjoy the dubious distinction of having the biggest target in European MMA on your back.
Fishgold knows what it’s like to be a legitimate world champion; he beat a fellow Brit for the belt and has defended it against an American and a Frenchman. Now he’s after the only promotional accolade still to elude him. As they say, two out of three ain’t bad…but three out of three is unheard of in the modern era. Fishgold doesn’t just want to hold a title, he wants to own one.
Three men have defended a Cage Warriors title three times, but the landscape when Michael Bisping, Paul McVeigh and Alexandre Izidro did the deed is vastly different to that of today. That’s not to belittle any of the above; Bisping is currently a UFC champion and McVeigh is for my money behind only Brad Pickett and Conor McGregor as the best sub-155lb European fighter in MMA history.
The game has changed though, and the levels are getting stronger by the year. In the immortal words of Street Fighter 2… “Here comes a new challenger…”
In these oversaturated times, being a good fighter isn’t quite enough in and of itself. You need something catchy about you and you need a signature performance on a big platform. Enter Saturday’s challenger, Alexander Jacobsen. Lets deal with the obvious first; Bergen, Norway’s finest goes by the name ‘Bad Romance’… if that’s not a great gimmick I don’t know what is.
Thankfully for the Norwegian, a flashy moniker isn’t the only thing he brings to the table. If you’d like a good idea as to how serious Jacobsen has always been about fighting the best, he made his professional debut on Cage Warriors. He lost that night, but he’s won every fight since, including a pair of emphatic victories here at CWFC.
It was no secret that Tim Wilde was pencilled in for a run at the title following his win over UFC veteran Mickael Lebout. When Jacobsen detonated his lethal overhand right on Wilde’s temple, it changed the entire landscape of the Cage Warriors lightweight division. Here was a man who could take a shot, counter a shot and deliver a shot of his own that would end the night of even the toughest opponents on the European circuit. Here was a legitimate challenger.
Jacobsen was far from a one hit wonder; a notion he would prove against Tom Green during his next outing. Green, a man who hadn’t been defeated in almost five years previously, was soundly trounced by Jacobsen in all phases of their Cage Warriors 84 clash. Slick on the feet, relentless on the ground; ‘Bad Romance’ had an answer for everything.
Following his victory over Wilde, Jacobsen extolled his ability to defeat anyone with a one-hitter quitter and promised to deal Fishgold the same fate. In 24 hours, Cage Warriors fans will learn if that statement was merely bluster or assured brilliance.
Fishgold, for his part, has something equally tangible about him. He’s won the title, he’s defended the belt. He’s got an entire city at his back. People may recall Paddy Pimblett’s title victory in the Echo last year, but the crowd stayed for the main even that night and the main event was Chris Fishgold.
Whereas Paddy is the unorthadox showman, Fishgold is the brutal bulldozer. He’ll charge you into the fence, wrap you up and strangle the life out of you like a Scouse Boa. Jacobsen is his polar opposite; a competent all-rounder with smooth footwork and a right hand that will ruin the dreams of any man unfortunate enough to test its mettle.
People have been debating strikers versus grapplers since 1993. Cage Warriors won’t solve the problem on Saturday night, but we will write the next, most relevant chapter.
– Brad Wharton