Joe McColgan has accepted the risk he’s taking by flying to Manchester from Northern Ireland during the coronavirus pandemic, but he also realizes that the ever-changing landscape the virus has brought with it has led to an “opportunity of a lifetime” as he gears up for a lightweight title shot at Cage Warriors 113 on Friday.
The Fight Academy Ireland fighter has been thrust into a title showdown with highly touted undefeated Welshman Mason Jones. When both McColgan and Jones lost their opponents for the event, it was decided that they would face each other for the belt.
McColgan recalled how he found out he had lost his opponent and been granted a lightweight title shot in the space of a three-minute phone call last week.
“It’s so crazy I can’t even describe in words how crazy it’s been,” McColgan told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “It’s been the most mental weekend of my life.”
“It started on Friday. Already on Friday, I wasn’t sure whether the fight would go ahead and then I was in work and I got a call from my coach [Liam Shannon]. I was thinking, ‘For flip sake, the fight’s fallen through,’ and then he said, ‘Rafael Macedo is out; they’re offering you Mason Jones,’ and I said, ‘Right, okay.’ But then he said, ‘That’s not it, they’re offering it for the world title.’ I couldn’t believe and I still can’t believe it now! At that point the fight was made, I think we signed contracts 30 minutes after that.”
Due to the ever-changing nature of Cage Warriors 113 - which has been inundated with bout changes and a shift in location from London to Manchester - McColgan feared he would miss out on what he described as an “opportunity of a lifetime”.
“Over the weekend there’s been all this uncertainty about whether the fight would go ahead. I’m thinking that I’ve got this opportunity of a lifetime and I kind of felt it slipping away over the weekend. I’m seeing Graham [Boylan’ giving updates and I’m seeing all the news, honesty, I can’t explain how mentally stressful it’s all been.”
McColgan was already considered to have an outside shot at competing on UFC Dublin if he continued to claim wins, but a Cage Warriors title - considered golden tickets to the UFC - could put him at the top of the promotion’s wish-list for its event in the Irish capital this August. Despite the high stakes, McColgan is remaining focused on the task at hand.
“I could be [setting myself up for a big 2020 with a win at Cage Warriors 113], but I’m really trying not to think about it. I don’t want to look beyond this fight with Mason Jones because it’s a massive fight and there’s a lot on the line. It’s going to be a tough test, so I definitely don’t want to look beyond that, but I can definitely see the potential of getting signed to the UFC in a fight’s time after this, or if not, just directly after this fight.”
With McColgan set to fly to Manchester on Wednesday night, he spoke about some concerns he has due to the coronavirus pandemic:
“I’m focused on the fight but there is an element of worry in my head where I’m weakening my immune system here to cut a lot of weight and then I’m flying into an airport. I’m getting public transport to the hotel and I’m going into the gym’s sauna, I’m making weight and then I’m going in to fight another man. Potentially, we could go hospital afterwards and then we’re back on public transport again. I’m exposing myself to a lot of different places and a lot of different people all with a weakened immune system. There is an increased risk and obviously with coaches flying over. So there is an element of worry, but we’re fighting in a cage. There’s always risk, this is just part of it. It’s our job, so we just get on with it.”
Check out Joe McColgan’s latest interview on Eurobash. It begins at 1:28:00.