Cage Warriors alumni on UFC Fight Island – Sat 18th July

With Fight Island 1 in the books – including some big wins and valiant performances for the Cage Warriors alumni, focus shifts to Saturday’s Fight Island 2, where once again the legacy of the yellow gloves will be in full effect.

Four more former Cage Warriors will step into the Octagon on Saturday night, including three former champions and the man behind one of the most devastating knock-outs in CW history. 

Jack ‘The Joker’ Hermansson

It’s tough to think of a more physically imposing middleweight to come out of the European scene in the last decade than Jack Hermansson. A Swede fighting out of Norway, the tenuous legal footing of MMA in his homeland saw ‘The Joker’ having to travel in order to gain experience from day one. By the end of his sixth professional fight he’d already competed in four different countries. Those early wandering years paid dividends though, with Hermasson able to put his decade’s worth of wrestling experience to good use along the way. 

Not only did his years on the mats give him a superb background to develop his now legendary ground ‘n’ pound game, but the athlete mentality was already embedded within him. That mental fortitude, coupled with his raw physicality and the minor detail of having been born with a pair of sledge hammers for fists, made his rise an explosive one. 

First appearing on Cage Warriors in 2011, a series of frightening stoppages and wild brawls saw Hermansson fight for the middleweight title against Norman Paraisy in 2014. With his hand raised after a grueling back-and-forth effort, ‘The Joker’ would defend his title twice, each time by way of increasingly devastating knock outs. Now a firmly established UFC middleweight with a 7-3 ledger, Hermansson will look to take a huge step towards UFC gold on Fight Island.  

‘Irish’ Joe Duffy

Part of the first wave of Irish MMA fighters to emerge on the global scene via Cage Warriors, Duffy’s career makes for fascinating reading. Known primarily for his striking today, a young Duffy trained in both Taekwondo and traditional Ju-Jitsu, with his early years in MMA punctuated by submissions. Chief amongst those were back to back wins over fellow products of the Emerald Isle, Belfast’s Norman Parke and future megastar Conor McGregor, in his Cage Warriors’ debut. 

While he would fall short in an early bid for Cage Warriors gold, ‘Irish Joe’ bounced back in the boxing ring, notching up seven wins in as many fights before returning to don the yellow gloves once more. A comeback victory in Dublin set up a featured fight in London – his home from home – later that year. What followed was one of the most pitch-perfect knees ever thrown in mixed martial arts and a stunning KO of the Year contender. 

The UFC had seen enough; Duffy was snapped up and has competed seven times on the world’s biggest stage. On Fight Island, he’ll look to put a run of bad luck behind him and return to winning ways against Spanish prospect Joel Alvarez. 

Nad Narimani

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” – a motto that held true for Nad Narimani’s Cage Warriors career. After dropping a thrilling split decision in his debut, Bristol’s finest bounced back with a series of dominant submissions against quality European competition to earn a shot at the featherweight title recently vacated by Jim Alers. With Alers, and Conor McGregor before him, snapped up by the UFC after holding 145lb gold, Narimani battled tooth and nail with Alex Enlund over five hard rounds to be next in line. 

Sadly it wasn’t his night. Enlund took the first three frames and despite a late rally that saw him win both championship rounds on all three scorecards, it wasn’t quite enough. Undeterred, Narimani returned with a stunning standing guillotine over Daniel Requijo in 2016, before dethroning Paddy Pimblett with a flawless display of wrestling a year later. 

Like so many before him, the Cage Warriors featherweight belt elevated Nad to the UFC. On Fight Island, he’ll be looking for his second victory inside the Octagon. 

Brett ‘The Pikey’ Johns

It’s often said that there are no easy routes to a Cage Warriors title, but on a warm September night in Cardiff, Brett Johns’ was harder than most. Cage Warriors 59 featured a one-night bantamweight tournament and was a roller-coaster ride of drama and emotion. On one side of the bracket, tournament favourite James Pennington snuck past late replacement Kris Edwards after two rounds, picking up an injury in the process. Johns meanwhile was hurt and dropped by a body kick while splitting the first two frames of his semi-final against Swedish prospect David Haggstrom, forcing a third tie-breaker round. 

Johns advanced to face alternate Jordan Desborough, who had dispatched his qualifying bout opponent with relative ease earlier that night. What followed was an epic, razor-close five-round title bout ending in a split-decision, with the Welshman’s hand raised on home soil when all was said and done. 

Johns’ Cage Warriors run ended in victory; a swan-song in Swansea against James Brum. On Fight Island, he’ll look for his fourth win and third bonus in six UFC contests.   

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