Cage Warriors lightweight champion Jai Herbert has been handed a UFC debut for March 21 in London, England where he will step in and face another man who graduated to the UFC ranks after securing a European title, Marc Diakiese.
Diakiese was initially booked to face Stevie Ray at the annual UFC London event, but the Scot was forced to withdraw from the grudge match. On Monday, Newsome MMA reported that a meeting between Diakiese and Herbert was on the cards. MMA Fighting subsequently confirmed that Herbert had signed on the dotted line to replace Ray against “Bonecrusher” at the 02 date.
Herbert (10-1-0), like Diakiese, is a former BAMMA champion. However, the Team Renegade fighter has been in scintillating form since reemerging under the Cage Warriors banner, banking five consecutive wins against tough opposition — Erdi Karatas, Joe McColgan, Steve O’Keefe, Jack Grant, Cain Carrizosa.
Following his emphatic stoppage victory over Carrizosa in December, Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan insisted that “The Black Country Banger” was ready for the UFC. He trains in Birmingham alongside Tom Breese, Leon Edwards, Fabian Edwards and many other U.K. notables.
Diakiese (14-3-0) was signed to the UFC as one of the most highly touted European prospects and as an undefeated BAMMA champion. “Bonecrusher” got off to a great start with the promotion, before he went through a difficult spell, losing three straight bouts to some of the division’s top talent in Drakkar Klose, Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast. Diakiese has recently bounced back into the win column with two victories over Joseph Duffy and Lando Vannata.
Herbert is the second fighter from MMA Fighting’s European Prospects to Watch in 2020 feature to sign for a major promotion. The first was a fellow Cage Warriors champion, Modestas Bukauskas.