Cage Warriors garnered some criticism for pressing ahead with their Cage Warriors 113 event last Friday. However, the man who was crowned lightweight champion on the night, Mason Jones, has claimed that he was “over the moon” with the safety precautions the promotion put in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cage Warriors lost a number of fights as travel restrictions tightened around the world. When the use of their London venue was pulled by owners AEG, they relocated to Manchester, England, in order to keep the show on the road with a card behind closed doors.
Jones claimed the coveted title with a first-round stoppage of highly touted Northern Irish fighter Joe McColgan. Speaking of the safety measures, the Welsh fighter joked that he was “fed up” due to the amount of tests he was put through to compete on the card.
“I got fed up with being tested, to be honest with, it was doing my head in!” Jones laughed as he detailed the situation on MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
Although most of the general concern was focused on fight night, Jones explained how the landscape of the weigh-ins changed amidst the spreading virus. He recalled how his temperature was checked and he was checked for symptoms before a doctor signed off on him to fight.
“Normally, it’s an open thing where they invite all the fighters and teams and you wait your turn. They had limited access to the weigh-ins so they had the main card come in at 1 o’clock. They did some of the prelims later on and after that they brought the rest of them in to weigh. It was split into two or three groups,” Jones explained.
“At the weigh-ins, after you weighed in you did your face-to-face, you got your temperature tested and they checked you for symptoms, you had to be signed off by a doctor. Straightaway, they asked to leave the premises. They said, ‘Please stay in your hotel rooms, we don’t want you wandering around Manchester. We’d prefer if you stayed in.’”
He also detailed how Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan drove home that people who did not abide by the safety measures would be banned from all promotional events.
“I had to be there at four o’clock for a meeting, they do a pre-fight meeting every time. They brought us there. We had a chat with Graham [Boylan] about everything that was going on. He said, ‘There’s a black curtain around the stage, you can all go and see it. When the fights start, you stay in your changing rooms and if we say any outside of it you’ll be banned from Cage Warriors shows. You’re not to come down, no one is to watch and no one is allowed in. All I want to see on the night is the corner crew and the [Cage Warriors] team, anyone else will be banned from Cage Warriors.’”
After meeting, Jones and his team were put through more tests.
“Straight after the meeting all my team had to be tested for symptoms again and we were all signed off by a doctor,” he said.
On fight night itself, he remembered being escorted to his changing room and being told to leave immediately after claiming the lightweight title.
“When we came back at seven there was as security guard on the gate making sure nobody could get near the venue. To get into the venue, our names were all on a sheet, so a security guard was ticking us off as we came through, we all had to get bands before we came onto the premises. We weren’t allowed to wander anywhere, we were escorted straight up to the changing rooms and were told we weren’t leaving until our fight. As soon as it’s time to fight we were escorted out pretty much.”
“After the fight, they gave us our medical checks, they paid us our money and they asked us to leave,” he added. “I was over the moon with the way it was run. It was a different environment that we see most at most MMA shows. It was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed my walkout, I enjoyed the fight and obviously, I enjoyed the celebrations.”
On reflection, Jones described the measures Cage Warriors put in place as “quite military.”
“It was quite military the way they did everything. I personally can’t think of anyway they could’ve made it safer. There was limited contact with everyone. We weren’t allowed to wander anywhere and we weren’t even allowed to watch the fights. With the different changing rooms, they were able to limit contact as much as possible.”
Check out Mason Jones’ latest interview on Eurobash. It begins at 1:32:00.