Cage Warriors is firmly established as Europe’s leading MMA promotion, but that doesn’t mean our reach has been limited to this continent alone. Throughout our near-20 year history, fighters from all corners of the globe have plied their trade in the famous Yellow Gloves, and the good ol’ US of A is no exception. Ahead of this Sunday’s sold-out return to Humphrey’s On The Bay, here’s a look at some of the most notable alumni to compete under the red, white and blue banner.
Jim ‘The Beast’ Alers
Florida’s Jim ‘The Beast’ Alers was thrown in at the deep end, facing the unenviable task of having his first two professional bouts under the Cage Warriors banner when the promotion visited his home state in 2008/9. A stand-out grappler, Alers picked up a pair of submission wins and went on to become a lynchpin of the featherweight division when he was signed in 2012.
Twice scheduled to face Conor McGregor for the 145lbs title (both men had to withdraw due to injuries), Alers eventually competed for the title in April 2013 after ‘The Notorious’ was signed to the UFC, defeating Finnish ace Joni Solovaara to be crowned champion. Defences against European standouts Martin Svensson and Graham ‘Afterburner’ Turner followed, before Alers became the latest Cage Warriors champ to be signed to the UFC.
In seven bouts with the promotion Alers competed in six countries, strapping on the Yellow Gloves in America, Bahrain, Jordan, Scotland, Wales and Ireland: A true world warrior.
Jesse ‘JT$’ Taylor
If there has ever been a man in MMA history who could be relied on to make a splash, it’s ‘JT$’ himself, Jesse Taylor. The Californian NCAA Division 1 wrestler initially came to prominence as a cast member on season seven of The Ultimate Fighter. The show was still red hot, and with UFC superstar ‘Rampage’ Jackson and TUF 1 winner Forrest Griffin in as coaches, fans expected drama going in.
Drama was certainly what they got, but few could have predicted that it would come from Taylor going ‘Full Hangover’ in Vegas and getting kicked off the show before the Finale. Following his stint in the TUF house, Taylor crisscrossed the globe taking on all comers. His path eventually led him to Isa Town, Bahrain, and a shot at Cage Warriors welterweight champion Gael Grimaud.
While his first bid for CW glory was unsuccessful, Taylor was far from done with his pursuit of a Big Gold Belt. After a three-fight run that saw him pick up wins in Mexico, the USA and Australia, a beefed-up, middleweight ‘JT$’ returned to face hometown favourite Chris Fields on that famous December night in Dublin, Ireland.
Taylor played spoiler on the night, picking up his Cage Warriors title at the second time of asking by way of a first-round rear-naked choke. He’d repeat the feat in his first defence of the belt, submitting another local hero in John Phillips at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. And while he would leave the promotion soon after to continue his globe-trotting ways, Taylor would eventually find his way back to the UFC, finally earning a contract after winning ‘The Redemption’ season of the show that launched his career; The Ultimate Fighter.
Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson
While he’d probably not thank us for including him on a list of notable Americans (the notoriously politically active and self-described ‘Anarco-Communist’ Monson has now taken Russian citizenship), ‘The Snowman’ was most definitely a fully-fledged American during his Cage Warriors tenure. To say that Monson’s journey started in a different era of mixed martial arts would be an understatement; the Minnesotan made his initial UFC debut all the way back at UFC 27!
Monson, who balanced MMA with a submission grappling campaign that saw him regarded among that sport’s elite at heavyweight, competed in close to 90 professional fights in a career spanning almost two decades. Having fought everywhere from the UFC to PRIDE and everyone from Chuck Liddell to Fedor Emelianenko, it was only fitting that Monson strap on the Yellow Gloves at some point.
That point came back in the promotion’s formative years, at Cage Warriors 9: Xtreme Xmas (yes, really) in 2004. In a highly anticipated matchup of heavyweight grapplers, Monson submitted Georgian goliath Tengiz Tedoradze in under four minutes of the very first round. ‘The Snowman’ then went one better, taking the back and sinking in a rear-naked choke just two minutes into their April ‘05 rematch.
With Tedoradze banished, Monson returned to defend his belt a second time, taking on French slugger Marc Emmanuelle. After dispatching his man in a mere 59 seconds, making it three RNC wins in three Cage Warriors appearances, Monson was snapped up for his second stint in the UFC, eventually competing for the promotion’s heavyweight title against Tim Sylvia.
With Cage Warriors’ return to California just days away, our next American champion could well be in action, with Spike Carlyle, JJ Ambrose, Jordan Bailey, Max Rohskopf, Zac Pauga and more looking to make a splash this Sunday night on UFC Fight Pass!
Brad Wharton is Cage Warriors’ play-by-play announcer. You can follow him on Twitter, @MMABrad48.