As the head of Cage Warriors — a promotion that has paved the way to the UFC for almost 100 hopefuls — Graham Boylan knows a thing or two about getting fighters to the Octagon.
Yet, due to the sport being forced to a standstill amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Irish promoter doubts that any fighters that are currently outside of the promotion will gain entry to the UFC before the end of the year.
Boylan broached the topic when considering the trajectory of Rhys McKee - a fighter that was scheduled to compete for the Cage Warriors welterweight title at the now-postponed Cage Warriors Belfast event in May.
Many media and fans were convinced that the Northern Irishman would gain an opportunity to fight at UFC Dublin in August should he claim the coveted strap. However, as Boylan discussed this week on MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, the situation has changed with the UFC likely having a full, uninjured roster at its disposal when normal business resumes.
For that reason, he believes the most likely way for McKee to get a nod for the Dublin date is if he is called up on short notice.
“I think Rhys needs that belt,” Boylan replied when asked if McKee could still sign for the promotion ahead of UFC Dublin.
“Unless there is some last minute fight that pops up on the radar that he can step in for, I think that fight for the belt, to get that belt and to move forward to there is definitely on the cards for Rhys.”
Boylan then spoke about the unique situation the UFC will likely find itself in when the action fully resumes.
“The UFC’s roster, when they eventually get the green light to get a show on, is going to be a full roster. And when I say full, there’s got to be at least 30 percent of the UFC’s roster out injured at any one time. Everybody is coming back uninjured; everyone is coming back ready to go. Now, if everyone is ready to go, and events are every other week or every week, there’ll be a backlog of guys looking to get fights in because they haven’t fought,” said Boylan.
“Somebody who hasn’t fought since November or December of last year, it could be a year before they fight again. If they got injured in December or November of last year, they’re now going to be fully recovered, ready to go and rehabbed come July or June of this year. [UFC] are going to have a full roster — no injuries. A full roster to choose from — how in the name of God does anybody get into the UFC for the rest of this year?”
Boylan doubts that short-notice fight offers will make it to combatants outside the UFC due to the amount of fighters that will be ready to go on the current roster.
“Where is the door open? There is no door open. If they need a replacement, everybody is going to be ready – everyone is going to be injury free, everyone is going to be rehabbed. All they’re going to be doing is coming in and getting their spar in. They’re all going to be fit because there ain’t no UFC fighter on the roster right now that’s not doing their training, their [strength and conditioning] and their cardio work. They can do it home in their garden, or go for a run, or whatever they’re doing. When this starts up again, you’re talking a full, complete, uninjured roster. What room is there to bring guys in when you’ve got everyone to choose from on your books fit and ready to go?”
Check out Graham Boylan’s latest appearance on Eurobash. It begins at 1:14:00.