This Saturday, Cage Warriors Fighting Championship returns to Denmark for the first time since 2014, in what will be the biggest mixed martial arts event in the country’s history.
Cage Warriors 103 is a triumphant return, showcasing the growth of Danish MMA in the five-year span since Cage Warriors 66 with a main card anchored entirely by Danish fighters, as it features four of the Nordic nation’s biggest names in Nicolas Dalby, Soren Bak, Mark O. Madsen and Mads Burnell. That the success of the card is fueled by homegrown talent is not lost on the fighters, several of whom spoke to Sherdog.com about their excitement for what they believe may be a new era in Danish combat sports.
“There has been nothing ever like this in Denmark. This will break several Danish records,” Madsen said. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling has played a major role in elevating the Danish MMA scene with local fights and even launching Cage Warriors Academy Denmark to put on smaller regional shows in the country. Meanwhile, Madsen himself has remained undefeated, running his record to 6-0, drawing the eyes of mainstream press and helping propel the sold-out card.
“We have over 2,500 confirmed tickets sold. This could be a turning point in Danish MMA!” said Madsen, who faces France’s Thibaud Larchet (12-4-1) on Saturday. Madsen views a win on Saturday as a possible springboard to an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract.
Another fast-rising local star is Soren Bak, who beat promotional star Paddy Pimblett to capture the vacant Cage Warriors lightweight belt last September. Like Madsen, Bak is excited about this weekend’s event for what it means for Danish MMA as well as for his own career.
“It feels fitting that Danish MMA [has] been on this growing journey with me and that I, at the best I’ve ever been, get to show my country what I’m made of,” Bak said. “The True Viking” will give up his lightweight belt to face Morgan Charriere for the interim featherweight title. The interim title fight was booked after featherweight champ Dean Trueman was forced to withdraw from a scheduled defense against Bak with an injury three weeks ago. If successful, Bak would become only the second two-division titleholder in Cage Warriors history, after Conor McGregor.
In the main event is Copenhagen’s Nicolas Dalby, fighting for the interim welterweight title, a belt he vacated in 2015 when he signed with the UFC. Denmark’s biggest MMA star once again headlines the card in his home country, just as he did at Cage Warriors 66, where he made waves with a highlight-reel head kick finish over Sergei Churilov.
“It feels amazing,” Dalby said. “Headlining the biggest-ever event in Denmark, fighting for the title in the biggest European organization at such a historic location -- It doesn't really get bigger than this.”
Cage Warriors 103 takes place Saturday, March 9 at K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen, Denmark. The four-fight main card features a Danish fighter in each bout and is headlined by the interim welterweight title fight between Dalby and Lohore, with Bak vs. Charriere fighting for the interim featherweight belt in the co-main. The prelims start at 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET) and the event will be broadcast in North America via UFC Fight Pass.