Joe McColgan: If I beat another guy at lightweight, then why not give me the title shot?

Peter Carroll caught up with rising Belfast prospect, Joe “The SBG Hunter” McColgan, who recently made the trip down South to train with Dublin’s Team Ryano. Sitting on a record of 2-0 and coming off the back of a convincing decision victory over SBG’s Peter Queally in his last outing, McColgan expressed frustration at his lack of an opponent for Cage Warriors 81, which is slated for March 4th in Dublin.

“It’s very difficult, I’m sitting here at 82kg and due to fight at lightweight, that’s a 12kg cut. I need to have a name, I need to have a face to focus on to get me through the diet and the training. So, it’s very difficult to focus, but I’m getting through it. And, as you say, it’s very frustrating. I want to fight and with three weeks to go, am I gonna get a fight? Right now, I don’t know.”

McColgan was unsure why he’s having so much difficulty finding an opponent, but suspected it may have something to do with the effortless way in which he dispatched the highly rated Queally.

“I don’t know why they’re turning me down. Are they looking at my last fight and thinking ‘well, this guy did that to Peter Queally, could he do that do me?’. And they’re a wee bit, ‘that’s a risky fight and he might beat me’ or is it ‘I don’t want to take the risk of losing to a 2-0 fighter’?

I think I’m in a difficult position in that guys at my level, guys who are starting out are not wanting to take the fight. And the guys at Peter Queally’s level aren’t wanting to take the fight.”

Focusing on Queally for a moment, McColgan spoke admirably of the SBG man’s willingness to take a risk and felt that more fighters should be following his lead.

“I was actually thinking about Queally and I was thinking ‘f**k, I owe a lot to Peter Queally’. Hat’s off to him, he literally is not afraid to risk what he has…

You know, people should be taking a leaf out of his book and take fights. Let’s not pad records, let’s just take who’s the best fighter. That’s what this game is about, beat the best. If you’re trying to get into the UFC and you’re dodging fights, guys who have a 2-0 record, then you’re not meant to be in the UFC. That’s not the right attitude.”

When asked if he’d prefer to fight opponents with a similar record to his own or against the top fighters to climb the ladder, McColgan reiterated his willingness to step into the cage against anyone that was put in front of him. But again, couldn’t escape the fact that he still can’t get a fight.

“I’m not here to take steps back, I took a risk with Peter Queally and it paid off. Now, let me get the rewards from that. Let me fight those big-name fighters. Off the top of my head, there was one guy on an 8-fight win streak, he’s from Belgium, I said yes instantly to him. His last loss was against a 14-0 Russian and it was a close fight…

And then there was another guy who recently fought for the Cage Warriors number one contender spot, I said yes to him instantly and then both of those boys turned me down. And I was getting 3 and 0 guys from Edinburgh or SBG Scotland turning me down. Everyone’s turning me down, no-one wants to take the fight.”

McColgan also felt his relatively light record shouldn’t be an issue and stated he would be calling for a title shot with reigning lightweight champion, Chris Fishgold, assuming he comes through a bout at Cage Warriors 81.

“Yeah, of course. Why would I need to wait? Why would I need to have a record to get into the UFC? Why do I need a record to fight for the Cage Warriors lightweight championship? I don’t. I beat the number one guy. Some would consider him one of the top fighters in Europe at welterweight outside of the UFC, and I beat him fair and square…

“If I beat another guy at lightweight and if he’s one of the top 20 guys in the UK, then why not give me the title shot?”

When pressed on a date for any likely title fight, the Belfast man may have let the cat out of the bag about a potentially huge event in the pipeline for his hometown.

“So, if they give me that fight on March 4th and I come out unscathed, I’ll be looking for that title. Whether it’s in April in the Echo Arena, or in June if they ever come to Belfast, which I hear they might. [laughing] That’s what I hear, that’s what I hear!”

McColgan also spoke briefly, and ominously, about what it’s like to spar his Fight Academy Ireland teammate, Karl Moore.

“I can barely concentrate in work thinking about going in and sparring him, and he’s taken me around, you know? And I think the bigger guys who are more around his weight, we were talking about it going ‘Jesus Christ, I can’t even eat thinking about this’.”

Moore himself faces off against TUF 19 veteran, Josh Clark, in a highly anticipated light heavyweight title fight on March 4th. Asked about Moore’s chances of walking away with the title and his future in the fight game, McColgan firmly believes that there’s only one place Moore is going.

“The man is an animal, there’s no-one and I mean no-one in the UK, Europe, worldwide that is going to be able to tame this beast. He’s a specimen. He moves like a featherweight and he hits like a heavyweight. There’s gonna be no stopping him. If he can just get the fights, and if he can get a good run going, and I’m not talking about getting a fight, getting a knockout and taking a long time off.

I’m talking about getting the head down and taking these fights consistently. He’ll be up there contending for the UFC title, never mind Cage Warriors. He’s destined for great things and this Cage Warriors title is going to be the catalyst, he’s gonna go for great things after this.”

Salon-quality hair and a right foot that could open a tin of peas. Twitter: @ahayde7