Anyone involved in the European MMA scene is aware of the undercurrent between a pair of the most important promotions in the market over the past year. Whether its been through snide remarks on Twitter or passive-aggressive comments in press releases, it is clear that relations aren’t the best between Bellator and Cage Warriors. Both are looking to be the dominant force when it comes to developing top-level talent and putting on live shows in the UK and most recently, Ireland.
Earlier this week, Cage Warriors held a media day in Dublin ahead of their return to Ireland on Saturday 9th November. The company’s president, Graham Boylan, spoke to Sean Sheehan for Severe MMA and explained how he believes Bellator aren’t competition for Cage Warriors. Boylan is of the opinion that the fighters who want to make money and aren’t particularly worried about picking up losses or getting developed go to Bellator whereas those who want to get to the UFC and believe they can be the best in the world take that path with Cage Warriors. Head of Bellator Europe, David Green, has also previously mentioned that he doesn’t see Cage Warriors as competition in terms of building the market across Europe and bringing big fights to full arenas available on TV platforms.
One of the biggest prospects currently signed to Cage Warriors is Irishman, Ian ‘The Future’ Garry (2-0), who trains out of Team KF. He also spoke to Severe MMA at the same media day before he competes at the promotion’s show in November. Garry mentioned that if fighters want to fight for Bellator, they will have a short career because those athletes don’t want to be one of the best fighters in the world — they just want to be paid.
He went on to discuss that if fighters get 20k to fight in Bellator as opposed to 5k to fight in Cage Warriors it’s easy which is the offer many would want to take, but he questions how many fights that 20k will last for. Garry mentioned whether or not those Bellator fighters could then move up in wage compared to UFC fighters who work up through the pay scale depending on performances. The promising prospect said he would take the UFC route over the Bellator one because of that as well as other reasons which is why he has chosen to develop his career in Cage Warriors.
These interviews generated lots of discussion online and even saw Bellator official, Mike Kogan, have his say on the situation.
What’s this 5k in Cage Warriors this kid talking about. Champions making 2500. Bellator is changing lives. This shit promotion is taking advantage of gullible kids by paying them shit money and the promise of gold 99% of whom never see it Son U not in Bellator cause no one asked— Mike Kogan (@rtemike) October 30, 2019
The Twitter account belonging to Bellator Europe star and former Geordie Shore TV personality Aaron Chalmers — which is not run by Chalmers himself — then sent out tweets and exchanged comments with Ian Garry.
Your money goes up in Bellator every fight..— Aaron Chalmers (@AaronCGShore) October 29, 2019
No one wins and stays on same money.. we got 8-0 guys getting 100k a fight Over here and making headlines all over the world
What ever shit people are being fed is a lie and utter bull shit! https://t.co/FoB0NycupF
Guys can’t afford to feed their families and working 2 jobs to fight on cage warriors— Aaron Chalmers (@AaronCGShore) October 30, 2019
We have prospects who are 19-25 who can live full time for a year on 1 fight
Fight 3 times in a year and they are living like kings https://t.co/NofOBpxIaD
Mate everyone knows Bellator pay well not arguing that what so ever.— ian Garry (@iangarryMMA) October 30, 2019
I’m arguing that I’m a 21 year old kid who doesn’t care about money and only wants to be the best and that means making it to the ufc and trying to compete with the best roster out there.
Cool— Aaron Chalmers (@AaronCGShore) October 30, 2019
But then the other half of CW are not 21
So when talking about money with bellator / ufc you need to be informed and not be listening to some one talking shite
Plus we have some of the best fighters in this country in europe, in the world https://t.co/nyYPXOIuRX
I don’t care about the other half of cage warriors I only care about myself mate what they do is up to themselves everyone knows cage warriors is a young mans organisation to get you to the top of the sport which is the ufc— ian Garry (@iangarryMMA) October 30, 2019
And again I don’t care about money
The official Bellator Twitter account and one of the biggest stars in Cage Warriors, Paddy Pimblett, also got involved.
What’s this kids name?— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) October 30, 2019
Some ppl may get taken advantage of my friend just like in any organisation, but I can assure you I earn a lot more than 2500 a fight I’m sure bellator wud jump at the chance to sign Ian being honest just like they wud half of the cage warriors roster— Paddy Pimblett (@PaddyTheBaddy) October 30, 2019
The rivalry between the promotions shows no sign of letting up and is definitely something worth monitoring as both companies look to expand their European schedule even further next year. Both promotions are home to extremely talented fighters in the region and the different options that athletes have is only beneficial for their careers long-term.