On December 8th last year, Cage Warriors finished 2018 with a bang by putting on their biggest show to date in CW100. One of the stand out fights of the evening was the culmination of the featherweight grand prix tournament, a tournament that would see Dean Trueman walk away with the title after beating Aiden Lee. In normal circumstances, you would expect a first title defence to be against someone else in the same weight class, but this is MMA and things are generally far from normal.
Just before Christmas last year, Trueman is offered a fight against the Cage Warriors lightweight champion, Søren Bak. A fight that would see Bak vacate his belt to take on Trueman at featherweight. When he was originally informed of the March 9th showdown with Bak, Trueman informed his manager that he couldn’t take the fight due to prior arrangements. When it transpired that Trueman would then have to defend his belt prior to that date, and Bak would be given an interim belt with a view to fighting him later in the year.
“I just thought you know what right, I think that’s bullshit. I’ve only just won the belt. I’m not injured. I can fight him before in London. I can fight him after, whatever, but that weekend I’m away”
Having been told that Bak was on the Copenhagen card and would be given an interim belt, Trueman quickly changed his plans. ”I thought fuck that, you know what I’m not going away, I’ll just fight him.”
Having only won the lightweight belt himself in September last year, after beating Paddy Pimblett, it seemed a strange choice for Bak to vacate his newly won title to drop down a weight, something which Trueman agreed with.
“This is what I don’t understand, it’s ridiculous. I mean, if I was the lightweight champ and I was going down I would not vacate the lightweight belt. I’d win them both and get that nice Conor McGregor picture with both belts. And I’d get both of them belts on my shoulders then I’d vacate one, the one I didn’t want. You know, the weight class I didn’t want to fight at.”
With the fight confirmed for Saturday March 9th on the Cage Warriors 103 card, Trueman will be travelling to Copenhagen in Bak’s native Denmark to make his first defence. Not an ideal scenario for the newly crowned featherweight champion.
“I mean, it’s a bit of a piss take that I’m defending my belt in his country. If it was the lightweight belt on the line and it was in his country, then fair enough. Being put in that position is a bit of a shit move really.”
With that being said, Trueman has a loyal following and will be well supported in Copenhagen. Although a title defence would’ve been more preferable on home turf, Trueman is not worried in the slightest and relishes the change to fight in Denmark in what will be his first fight outside of the UK.
“You know what, that sort of attracted me to it as well (fighting in Copenhagen). Yeah, but you know, I’ve got a few people coming down and my lot are always dead loud. My lot are mad for it.”
With Bak notching up 6 wins out of his 11 professional fights by way of submission, the ground game threat will be there for all to see, as it was with the Aiden Lee fight in December. With both Bak and Lee strong on the ground, Trueman can definitely see similarities between the two fighters.
“We knew that Aiden Lee would gas and I was landing body kicks and they we definitely taking away from his gas tank so, you know, the game plan sort of worked. If we lose the first round. We were sort of in the frame of mind that we could lose the first two but third, fourth and fifth he’s gonna be done and that’s when I’m gonna take over and if you watch the fight, that’s pretty much what happened. The game plan worked a treat.
As for Søren Bak, I think he’s got a lot better cardio than Aiden but again I think his jiu-jitsu is similar and his striking is nowhere near as dangerous as Aiden’s to me.”
With Trueman having never fought in a five round fight before, we could see him enter uncharted territory in March, however, this is something that won’t phase Trueman in the slightest.
“I know he’s experienced in that but I’m not a lazy person when it comes to my cardio. I put the graft in. Some of the fights where I’ve gone three rounds I felt alright after and I’m like I probably could’ve done another round or two rounds. I’m confident my cardio will be there.”
Ultimately, it’s Trueman who should feel more comfortable fighting at his natural weight when he meets Bak in March and this is something that isn’t lost on him.
“Good luck cutting that weight. It’s gonna be a hard one for him. He keeps saying it’s gonna be easy but an extra 9lbs when you’re already cutting water to get to lightweight is not gonna be easy. If someone said you’ve got to cut another 9lbs to get to bantamweight to me, there’d be no chance I’d do it you know. Good luck with that. Make sure you make weight because that belt aint on the line if you don’t make weight.”
Confirmed fights for Cage Warriors 103:
Søren Bak vs Dean Trueman – Featherweight Title Fight
Nicolas Dalby vs Alex Lohoré – Interim Welterweight Title Fight
Mark O. Madsen vs TBC
Mads Burnell vs Lewis Monarch – Featherweight