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MMA is coming home for Cage Warriors' Scots stars

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: IT HAS been a long time coming, but Scotland will finally play host to Cage Warriors Fighting Championship next month.

Bantamweight champ Paul McVeigh is making the move to flyweight. Pic by Andrew Dobbie
Bantamweight champ Paul McVeigh is making the move to flyweight. Pic by Andrew Dobbie

And Cage Warriors bosses have assembled a card so full of Scots stars that it is almost guaranteed to be worth the wait for MMA fans.

It's no coincidence that Europe's biggest MMA promotion has selected its marquee 50th show for its Scottish debut at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall on Saturday, December 8.

Cage Warriors 50 is a special event for the London-based promotion - and Glasgow is a special place for the sport.

Starring at CW50 is Glasgow-based Paul McVeigh, a longtime Cage Warriors champion at both featherweight and bantamweight, who is now making his way down to flyweight (125lb).

The experienced fighter was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by Roberto Atalla this month and has been on a run which saw him come heartbreakingly close to making it onto the UFC's reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter.

His Dinky Ninja Fight Team partners Robert Whiteford and Graham Turner are also on the card for CW50. Whiteford, the Vision featherweight champ, has also flirted with the UFC of late and looks a sure bet to one day make it to the famous Octagon.

A win in his Cage Warriors debut against Chris Fishgold will be another step towards the promised land.

Devastating striker Turner, the On Top featherweight champ who also holds the Vision lightweight strap, is another longtime Cage Warriors star.

With a host of bouts still to be announced, the Kelvin Hall is set to host its most impressive MMA event to date.

Graham Boylan, Cage Warriors promoter, said: "Glasgow is a place we've always wanted to come to but we've had commitments to put shows on in the Middle East and in various other places.

"As soon as we were able, we made plans to come to Scotland.

"CW50 is a special one and it's going to be a great event. We plan to come to Scotland twice a year after this.

"The undercard is pretty much Scotland versus the rest of the world. The undercard fights will be shown live in Facebook and the main card will be streamed live on MMAjunkie.com everywhere except the UK."

The fight promotion has an exclusive deal with Sky Sports, which broadcasts Cage Warriors fight cards on the Tuesday or Wednesday following the event.

For that reason, the online stream is not available in the UK but will be watched with interest in America and around the world.

The biggest MMA promotion outside of the United States, and one of the biggest worldwide in terms of the number of shows and quality of its roster, CW is doing great things.

And Boylan is not at all sensitive to the fact that his show is seen as a feeder league to the UFC.

He said: "We give the guys the platform to get to the UFC, we have no problem with that.

"There is no other UK show that is broadcast live in 105 countries and puts on this level of fights.

"If you're a fighter who is on the brink of reaching the UFC, chances are you have fought or will fight on Cage Warriors.

"There are four or five guys on the Glasgow card who are on the brink of being in the UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator. These guys are at that level."

Paul McVeigh is one of the guys about which Boylan is speaking.

Already untouchable in Cage Warriors' 135lbs division, he hopes a drop to 125lbs will give him an even better chance of competing with the best in the world and once again capturing the attention of UFC matchmakers.

His fight at CW50 looks set to be at a catchweight of 130lbs as he goes through the biggest weight cut of his career.

Should he reach 130lbs without compromising his performance, flyweight will be a realistic target.

Boylan added: "McVeigh is going to be a monster at flyweight.

"This fight may be at 130lbs which gives him the chance to do a test run for the weight cut and see how he copes.

"If it goes well, he'll move to 125lbs and that will be a smart move.

"He has been a Cage Warriors champion since his first fight on the promotion and he's still got a lot left to give to the sport.

"At 125lbs he would be a fantastic test for anyone in the world."

The Kelvin Hall has hosted a string of successful MMA shows in the last year, with both Vision and On Top holding events in the famous old building.

Cage Warriors aims to be the first promotion to sell each of the 1500 seats and Boylan is not concerned about taking on the two big Scottish promotions - both of which he has a lot of respect for - in their own backyard.

"We're not even on the same page as these promotions," he said.

"I have no worries about taking on Vision and On Top because it's not a fair comparison.

"We do many more shows and we fly in 120 staff to each show.

"The production at CW50 will be nothing like the Kelvin Hall has ever seen. We have a £500,000 rig around the cage for starters.

"It's a different world that we operate in."

Part two of Stef Lach's interview with Graham Boylan will be released later this week. Cage Warriors 50 takes place at the Kelvin Hall on Saturday, December 8. For the latest news on the fight card and for tickets, visit www.cagewarriors.com

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