Coming off the back of their landmark Cage Warriors 100 show, one of Europe’s biggest promotions returns to the burgeoning MMA market of Wales for another show that looks to highlight local talent. The Viola Arena in Cardiff plays host to Cage Warriors 104 on Saturday 27th April 2019 where some of the company’s biggest names will look to elevate their profile even further. The evening’s headliner, Jack Shore, has attracted mainstream media attention in Wales leading up to this event which shows that some of the biggest news outlets in the region have an interest in the sport and its local stars. Another of those hometown favourites is Mason Jones (6-0), who looks for the biggest win of his career so far against Donovan Desmae (11-5) in a lightweight bout that could have big implications for the division.
Jones last competed in September of last year where he earned the 2018 TKO of the year award for the promotion in a first round stoppage victory of Kacper Formela. However, he didn’t have things all his own way in that fight as Formela began with fluent movement on the feet and landed some good shots on Jones. The Welshman weathered the early storm before landing his own shots which folded his opponent in half and sent the partisan crowd wild. It was the biggest statement he has made so far in his career and showed that he can adapt his tactics during a round to counter his opponent’s strengths.
“Kacper had a really erratic style. He was fast on his feet and he threw some powerful strikes,” said Jones. “I dealt with this by just absorbing them, moving out of the power and away from the strikes so the energy was dissipated before it made contact. I initiated the wrestling to take some of the energy away from him. Within two and a half minutes, I had tired and slowed him down enough so that I could start to implement my game, my pace and really put the pressure on. I use my jab mainly to put pressure on people. I push forwards whilst throwing a hard jab to slow people down and really start to cause some damage which you saw in that fight.”
As all good fighters do, Mason Jones and his team spent a considerable amount of time evaluating his performance and identified aspects of his game that needed to be worked on. He knew that this was far from the perfect display of his skills but now knows what he needs to do differently if faced with similar problems in the future. It is having experiences like this that are crucial to rounding out fighter’s games and helps to build their arsenal to know how to deal with different situations in the cage.
“As a team, we came together in our normal review meeting and looked at the last fight intensely. There were a few things that myself and my team weren’t happy with especially in the first two minutes where I let him dictate the pace,” explained Jones. “I could have done some things to change it up rather than just being on the back foot. There were better things I could have done. My chin could have been lower and I could have changed the angles a bit more to try and break his rhythm faster. However, the fight was over quite quickly so it was hard to get a good review out of a fight like that.”
After that fight, many fans assumed that Jones would return about two and a half months later on the huge Cage Warriors 100 card in Wales. Jones was offered a slot on that show but after much deliberation, he decided that turning it down would be for the best longer term. He had an extremely active year and the extra few months outside of fight camp allowed him to progress his game which fans should be able to see come fight night.
“I would have loved to of been on the 100 card but I had such an active year with six fights in twelve months that it was too much to look to push for another one,” Jones stated. “I had a few niggles and little, minor injuries that would have turned into major ones if I’d have kept pushing them. We just made a decision that it was smarter to take a step back, relax, do some active recovery and go back to the drawing board in regards to training wise. That way we could really focus on improving techniques rather than just pushing forwards from fight camp to fight camp. I definitely was frustrated I couldn’t fight on the card but there is always another one.”
“I really used the last seven months well. My coaches all set their plans after our meeting and they all worked together. We all decided what areas I needed to work on. My strength and conditioning coach and my nutritionist both set out good, long term plans so we’ve really grounded out every area,” said Jones. “My striking has gone from where it was to a whole other level and my ground game is the best it has ever been. I think I’ve really improved wrestling wise too so it’s just about putting it all together on the night now and really showing exactly what I can do. I wouldn’t really say I’ve worked on anything specific. It’s just been a lot of generalised stuff and bits I didn’t get a chance to do because I was in so many fight camps. It’s been a really good six months!”
His upcoming opponent, Donovan Desmae, is a Cage Warriors veteran and will more than likely give Jones his toughest test to date. He has fought in shows all around Europe and holds a win over recent featherweight title challenger, Aiden Lee, in 2017. The Belgian has far more cage times than Jones and will be making the walk to the cage for the seventeenth time on April 27th. Jones is aware of the threats his opponent poses but believes he has created a game plan to negate Desmae’s strengths.
“Desmae is a really dangerous opponent. Before I made my debut, he was one of the ones that I had on my hit list of top fighters I eventually wanted to fight,” explained Jones. “I’ve been watching him for a long time and I saw him when he fought Richard Williams in Newport. He’s a really interesting fighter. He fights on the front foot, he was quite a wide stance, throws some good kicks which are dangerous and he has powerful hands. I’m really interested to see how this one will pan out and I can’t wait to get in there and fight him. It’s going to be an explosive fight but I think that I am just better in all areas than Desmae is. Come fight night, it will be over within two rounds!”
The lightweight division is one of the most stacked in Cage Warriors with a number of fighters jockeying for top spot. Jack Grant faces off against Jai Herbert in June for the vacant title, previous champion, Soren Bak, is moving back up to the division after his brief drop to featherweight and other names such as Paddy Pimblett are never far from the championship picture. The unbeaten Jones is expecting to be well and truly thrown into the top of the division with a victory at The Viola Arena.
“In regards to the lightweight division, the winner of me and Desmae is definitely next in line for a title shot,” Jones claims. “That is the next fight that I’d be looking for but it’s all up to the Cage Warriors matchmakers whether that happens or not. I’m just interested in beating the top guys, starting with Desmae and then we’ll see who’s next to go but I’d love to fight the champ next.”
Jones is looking forward to the title clash between Grant and Herbert and offered his insight on how he things the fight will go.
“I think Grant will be too much for Herbert in their title fight in June. I think Jack is dangerous on his feet as well as on the ground. Even though Jai has got explosive hands, I don’t think he will be able to deal with Jack’s long striking. I think it’ll probably be over before the final horn. It’s going to be a submission finish by Jack in my opinion to be honest. I think Jai will have a really good first round, they’ll have a wrestling exchange in the second and then Jack will take him down and submit him,” predicted Jones.
Cage Warriors 104 can be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass and tickets for the event can still be purchased here. All ticket holders have a chance to win a pair of the famous, yellow Cage Warriors gloves.
Image courtesy of Dolly Clew.