American Made: A Brief History of Cage Warriors American Alumni
Cage Warriors is firmly established as the leading MMA promotion in Europe, but that doesn’t mean our reach has been limited to that continent alone. Throughout our nearly 20-year history, fighters from all corners of the world have plied their trade in the famous yellow gloves, and the good ol ‘US of A is no exception. Ahead of this Sunday’s sold-out return to Humphrey’s On The Bay, here’s a look at some of the most notable alumni to compete under the red, white and blue banner.
Jim ‘The Beast’ Alers
Jim ‘The Beast’ Alers of Florida was thrown in the deep end, faced with the unenviable task of having his first two professional fights under the Cage Warriors banner when the promotion visited his home state in 2008/9 . A standout grappler, Alers scored two submission wins and became a mainstay in the featherweight division when signed in 2012.
Twice scheduled to face Conor McGregor for the 145-pound title (both men had to retire due to injuries), Alers finally competed for the title in April 2013 after “The Notorious” was signed to the UFC. , beating Finnish ace Joni Solovaara to be crowned champion. Defenses against European stars Martin Svensson and Graham ‘Afterburner’ Turner followed, before Alers became the last Cage Warriors champion to be signed to the UFC.
In seven fights with the promotion, the Alers have competed in six countries, wearing the yellow gloves in America, Bahrain, Jordan, Scotland, Wales and Ireland: a true warrior of the world.
Jesse ‘JT $’ Taylor
If there was ever one man in MMA history who could be counted on to cause a stir, it was “JT $” himself, Jesse Taylor. The California NCAA Division 1 wrestler first rose to prominence as an actor in season seven of The Ultimate Fighter. The show was always sizzling, and with UFC superstar ‘Rampage’ Jackson and TUF 1 winner Forrest Griffin as coaches, fans expected the drama to happen.
Drama was definitely what they had, but few could have predicted that it would come from Taylor going “Full Hangover” in Vegas and getting the show kicked off before the finale. After her stint in the TUF house, Taylor has traveled the world confronting all comers. His path eventually led him to Isa Town, Bahrain, and a shot at Cage Warriors welterweight champion Gael Grimaud.
While his first bid for CW fame was unsuccessful, Taylor was far from completing his quest for a Big Gold Belt. After a three-fight run that saw him claim victories in Mexico, the United States and Australia, a reinforced middleweight “JT $” returned to face hometown favorite Chris Fields on that famous night. December in Dublin, Ireland.
Taylor played the spoiler on the night, winning her Cage Warriors title for the second time by asking through a bare back choke in the first round. He would repeat the feat in his first belt defense, subjecting another local hero to John Phillips at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. And although he would leave the promotion shortly thereafter to continue his globetrotting journey, Taylor would eventually find his way back to the UFC, eventually winning a contract after winning the show’s “The Redemption” season. launched his career; The ultimate fighter.
Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson
While he probably wouldn’t thank us for including him on a list of notable Americans (the notoriously active and self-proclaimed “anarco-communist” Monson has now taken on Russian citizenship), “The Snowman” was very certainly an American during his Cage Warriors tenure. To say that Monson’s journey began in a different era of mixed martial arts would be an understatement; Minnesotan made his UFC debut since UFC 27!
Monson, who balanced MMA with a submissive wrestling campaign that saw him considered among the sport’s elite at heavyweight, has appeared in nearly 90 pro fights over a career spanning nearly two decades. Having fought everywhere from the UFC to PRIDE and everyone from Chuck Liddell to Fedor Emelianenko, it was only fitting that Monson donned the yellow gloves at some point.
This point came back in the promotion’s formative years, at Cage Warriors 9: Xtreme Xmas (yes, really) in 2004. In a highly anticipated heavyweight grappler match, Monson subdued Georgian goliath Tengiz Tedoradze in under four. minutes of the very first round. ‘The Snowman’ then did a better, taking the back and sinking into a choke in the back just two minutes after their April ’05 rematch.
With Tedoradze banned, Monson returned to defend his belt a second time, facing French slugger Marc Emmanuelle. After sending his man out in just 59 seconds, making him three RNC wins in three appearances with Cage Warriors, Monson was selected for his second stint in the UFC, ending up competing for the promotion heavyweight title. against Tim Sylvia.
With Cage Warriors returning to California in a few days, our next American Champion could be in action, with Spike Carlyle, JJ Ambrose, Jordan Bailey, Max Rohskopf, Zac Pauga and many more looking to make a splash this Sunday night. on UFC Fight Pass!
Brad Wharton is the Cage Warriors play-by-play announcer. You can follow him on Twitter, @ MMABrad48.