Jai Herbert was once removed from a BAMMA card due to him not selling enough tickets for a fight, but now the English prospect has cemented himself as one of the best lightweights in Europe by claiming the vacant Cage Warriors title at Saturday’s Night of Champions event.
There were many who were sure that fellow highly touted prospect and opponent Jack Grant could be receiving a call from the UFC if he had defeated Herbert in their co-main event clash. Yet, after overcoming Grant’s grappling advances in the opening round, Herbert put on a striking clinic before finishing his countryman in the third round.
“I’m really happy with it. I was really well prepared for it; I feel like I’ve preparing for years for these defining fights and these big events. I’ve been in the gym preparing myself for these situations, so when I was in there it all felt like second nature to me,” Herbert told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“I’m really happy with the performance. I’m really happy that I showed that I could hang in there with him and I feel like I did even more than that. There were a few times I landed elbows and a few big strikes; I feel like I was being dominant on the ground with him as well. I’m proving that I’m up there with the top fighters now.”
Casting his mind back to his removal from a 2017 BAMMA card due to a lack of ticket sales, Herbert credits being with Cage Warriors for the upsurge in his career.
“I think this is all down to Cage Warriors, really. Even though I do sell a lot of tickets now, they aren’t really bothered about it; they’re more focused on the talent. They haven’t given me any easy fights, they’ve all been good fights; I’ve had to show that I’ve improved myself. Certain things with BAMMA, like tickets sales with me and Lewis [Monarch], that fight was in Newcastle so that didn’t even make sense,” he recalled.
“That’s what they said to me, ‘We have to cut the lowest ticket sellers’, or something like that. At the time I was saying, ‘I just sold one hundred tickets for my last fight in Birmingham, what are you on about?’ Like I said, with Cage Warriors, all they care about is the talent. Look at where I am now. I guess it’s all happened for a reason.”
Due to Grant’s supposed proximity to a UFC contract ahead of their clash, Herbert believes he has now proved that he is ready to take his skillset to the Octagon to compete against the world’s best.
“A couple of people from the media have told me that Jack was meant to be getting that call-up [to the UFC] after he won this fight. A lot of people thought he was going to win. People that train with me and all of my coaches were very confident that I would do the business. I’ve obviously won in such a dominant fashion, I think it’s time I got that shout,” said Herbert.
“I’m glad it wasn’t a thirty-second knockout. I’m glad it was a three-round fight. I was in a couple of bad situations and I got out of them easily. He put the pressure on and I handled it. I picked him apart, I’m glad that I showed that I outclassed him. I think that’s better than getting a quick knockout because people would’ve had questions. I’m knocking on the door now, it’s my time and I think I should get the shout.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Jai Herbert interview begins at 14:30.