Image source: Mason Jones Instagram (@masonjones95)
All MMA promotions that have been taking place recently have come under strong criticism from many of the MMA community. Many feel that these shows should not be taking place as many countries have been placed under lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Cage Warriors 113 took place on March 20th and was no exception to the criticism, however, the co-main event fighter and new Cage Warriors Lightweight Champion, Mason Jones, was “over the moon” with how strict the safety precautions were.
Jones spoke to the Eurobash podcast and detailed the stringent rules and testing programs that Cage Warriors had put in place and joked that there were so many tests it was doing his head in.
“I got fed up with being tested, to be honest with you, it was doing my head in!
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.
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. Obviously we can’t enforce that but please do not leave.’”
There were clearly strict rules in place at the weigh-ins to reduce the number of people in one area at the same time. However, Jones says the rules didn’t end there as Cage Warriors President Graham Boylan gave some very clear instructions to the fighters at the pre-fight meeting with some strict consequences as well.
“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 about everything that was going on. He said, ‘there’s a black curtain around the cage, you can all go and see it. When the fights start, you stay in your changing rooms and if we say any around 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 our team, anyone else will be banned from Cage Warriors.’
Straight after the meeting all my team had to be tested for symptoms again and we were all signed off by a doctor.”
Jones then went on to detail the restrictions that were put in place during fight night including increased security stopping the general public from entering and having to be escorted to his changing room.
“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, there was security ticking us all off so myself, my coaches all had to get ticked off and get bands before we could come onto the premises. We weren’t allowed to wander anywhere; we were escorted straight up to the changing rooms and were told ‘you’re not leaving until your fight’. As soon as it’s time to fight we were escorted out pretty much.
It was quite military the way they did everything. I personally can’t think of any other way 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. After the fight, they gave us our medical checks, they paid us our money and they asked us to leave.
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 good experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed my walkout, I enjoyed the fight and obviously, I enjoyed the celebrations.”
Although Cage Warriors did put extremely strict regulations in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus at the event there was still a risk in running it. Many people are calling for the fighters and staff to be tested for COVID-19 at these MMA events but with a global shortage that’s likely not feasible.