Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ian Dean interview

This week, I interviewed Ian Dean, who is the matchmaker for Cage Warriors Fighting Championship in the United Kingdom. At first, Cage Warriors did not catch the eyes of some MMA fans. Cage Rage received more attention. However, after many elite British fighters came through Cage Warriors over the years, people began to understand that it was a top organization in the area.

For me, I watched GCM's Cage Force in Japan and saw Dan Hardy's improvement in his fights there, but I never imagined then that he would someday receive a UFC title shot. That was quite a surprise to me and changed my perception about MMA in the U.K.

I asked Ian about the upcoming Cage Warriors female 125-pound tournament. Olympic athlete Ronda Rousey recently received a lot of attention at 135 pounds in Strikeforce, and Bellator had its 115-pound tournament with Megumi Fujii in 2010. While there is currently less attention paid to 125 pounds, the journey to find new stars will begin with this tournament.

As more 125-pound matchups take place, we will see improvements among the fighters and the division will become more significant. We must not overlook this Cage Warriors women's tournament and should watch as they build up new stars.

- For women, Strikeforce has a 135-pound division and Bellator has 115 pounds. There is no 125-pound division in those organizations yet, but Cage Warriors has its upcoming tournament at 125. I feel that CWFC has succeeded at finding and showcasing top European fighters before major organizations realize their talents. Do you think the 125-pound division is overlooked by major U.S. promotions?

Without a doubt, I honestly feel 125 lbs has the potential to be a big weight class for women's MMA. Not only does it have a lot of crossover appeal with some 115 lbs fighters moving up, but I also feel that a lot of 135lbs fighters could move down, too, but currently don't want to because no major North American promotion has pushed that weight class. You only have to look at the unified women's rankings to see the talent that is there and I feel there are many intriguing match-ups to be made.

- I am interested in the beginning of your tournament this week in Dubai. It seems like fewer women take part in sports in the Middle East than in other areas of the world. Have you been asked about women’s MMA often since you arrived?

To be honest, I don't know the exact figures and the Middle East is a very contrasting region. However, they do have a healthy interest in western sports in general, with our hotel and other areas showing soccer games, basketball and even the UFC.

This also will not be the first female bout in the region, and although it may not be accepting in other Middle Eastern areas for cultural reasons, our first female bout in Jordan back in September was warmly received and I know a lot of people here in Dubai are looking forward to the Gaff/Maia bout here, too.

- Is there any particular fight or fighter that you would suggest that people pay special attention to in this tournament? I felt that Sheila Gaff's clinch knee strikes against Aisling Daly were impressive last year.

I feel all four fighters bring something special to the tourney. Jennifer Maia has her association with the world famous Chute Boxe team, has a good record on her domestic circuit and is yet still largely unknown outside of Brazil, which brings with it a certain amount of mystique to the tournament. Whereas her opponent, Sheila Gaff, looked fantastic last time out on Cage Warriors stopping Aisling Daly with strikes and, at only 22 years of age, she has amazing potential as well as devastating KO power.

Whilst in the other bracket, both Rosi Sexton and Aisling Daly are very popular amongst U.K. and Irish fans and are both known stateside, too. I think everyone in the women's MMA scene has wanted this match-up to happen and I personally can't wait for it to happen.

- After this tournament is over, would you like to match the winner up against a top American opponent? Any particular fighter you might invite?

I'm also looking to bring over quality fighters to Cage Warriors. For whoever wins this tourney, I will look to get them another top-ranked fighter for them to defend their title against. I don't want to name names, but we'll do our best to bring over someone worthy of a title shot. Although it has been difficult at times to get U.S.-based female fighters onto our show, I hope that after this tourney we will get more interest.

- I looked at MMARising's female unified rankings and there are four European fighters in the rankings. Did that help to motivate you to start this tournament?

We are lucky to have several European fighters at 125 lbs and I guess that has made things a lot easier. And, with both Aisling Daly and Rosi Sexton being available, it's just common sense to use them when we can.

- Would you be interested in holding another women's tournament at a different weight? Strikeforce seems to be dropping the 145-pound division and 105 pounds is starting to develop in Japan. Perhaps CWFC could showcase some fighters that other organizations have overlooked?

If the talent is there, I would like to use it. However, you need fighters available to really push a division and, domestically, 105 and 115 don't have too many high level U.K./European fighters yet, but I'm always open to suggestions.

- Unfortunately, Cage Warriors is not yet recognized by most Asian fans except for super hardcores, but many elite fighters from Europe have fought for CWFC. Could you please describe the appeal of CWFC to those who read this interview?

We just try to do things the 'right' way. We like to push MMA as a legitimate sport. We are fair and try to treat people well. We are not only trying to push MMA in the U.K. and Ireland but across Europe and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa region) as well. We have great TV and distribution deals and are live on, and I honestly feel that we are not only a show that MMA purists can enjoy but also a show for non-hardcore fans who enjoy seeing quality MMA action.

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing. 

1 comment:

  1. Hae Jun Yang is a beast and future contender with A LOT of KO power.

    no shame in getting Knocked out by him. But didn't see much upside for Hideto Tatsumi

    I think very soon Korean MMA talent( if it already hasn't) will surpass Japanese MMA

    the fighters are bigger,weight cut, and more fighting instinct.

    Doo Ho Choi
    Bae Young Kown
    Nam Jin Jo
    Nam Yui Chul
    Won Sik Park
    Bae Myung Ho
    Hyun Gyu Lim

    the talent is crazy