Hakon Foss faces Martyn Harris (4-2) this weekend at CW81, the pair had been set to meet at Cage Warriors 80 in London, but Harris withdrew from the contest due to illness. Foss made weight and Cage Warriors paid him his show money.
Foss had hoped that Cage Warriors would be able to find him a new opponent in time, but he was aware this would be a difficult task. Cage Warriors only allow fighters with up to date SafeMMA clearances to compete, which restricts the number of fighters available to fight at late notice, but puts fighter safety first.
He asked to be placed on the upcoming Dublin card, and Graham Boylan and Ian Dean were happy to do so. However, Foss was surprised when Cage Warriors told him that he would be facing Harris at CW81, believing that CWFC might look for a new opponent since Harris pulled out so close to the event.
The Frontline MMA fighter believes he knows exactly how his opponent will approach the fight. “I’ve seen some footage on him,” Foss said. “He’s a one dimensional fighter. I see where his weakness is. He’s not going to do what he normally does.”
“He always does the same thing. He rushes in and tries to take his opponent down. He is going to fail to do that. I train with some very good guys, he isn’t going to be able to take me down.”
This isn’t his first time fighting under the Cage Warriors banner, he fought on the prelims of the promotion’s Copenhagen card in 2014, and it was an experience that he has not forgotten.
“It was real awesome,” he said. “I fought Per Franklin, a real tough guy from Sweden. And I had a lot of fans who came from Oslo, it was a very good event.” Foss had been looking to sign with the promotion before their 18-month hiatus, eventually signing a 5 fight contract in 2016.
Ten hour shifts laying railway tracks and repairing broken tracks took their toll on the fighter, and he decided, with the support of his girlfriend, that he needed to commit himself to the sport and handed in his resignation in January. The 30-year-old felt this line of work was impacting his ability to train, and was only giving him minimal recovery time.
He has spent the last two weeks working on his conditioning and game plan . The most dififcult aspect of having to reschedule his fight was the mental impact a delay has on a fighter. “You get yourself into a fighting state of mind,” he said. “The most toughest part of it was having to focus your mind again. You prepare yourself mentally, and then all of a sudden you have to change what is in your head, and you know you need to get back into that zone 2 weeks later. It is difficult, but I have done it and I am focused.”
Foss has seen two of his teammates sign to the sport’s premier promotion over the last year. And in his corner will be a former Cage Warriors champion, Jack ‘The Joker’ Hermansson, and Emil Meek has also travelled to support Foss. “It motivates me,” he told SevereMMA.
“I see how Jack and Emil live, they don’t have to work anymore, and they just spend their time training and have good financial sponsors helping them.”
Knowing that a significant number of European-based fighters have been picked up by the UFC after a stint with Cage Warriors, including one of his training partners, Foss hopes to use the platform to grab the attention of UFC fans and matchmakers, believing that 2-3 impressive performances could secure him a UFC contract. And not content with just securing a UFC contract in the future, he hopes to make waves in sport’s premier organisation.
“I went pro when I was 26, so I haven’t been a pro for that long, but now I’m really figuring everything out. I think I can go really far in this sport.”
There is only one welterweight fighter that Foss would not be willing to battle in his quest to reach the UFC, his Frontline MMA teammate Mohsen Bahari, the pair are very close friends and put that friendship ahead of MMA . And ideally he would rather avoid having to fight Thomas Robertsen, Jack Mason (BCMMA matchmaker) had offered him the opportunity to fight his countryman at a BCMMA card but felt that there were a number of welterweights available and turned down the fight, though he did admit that he would be open to it if Cage Warriors really wanted the pair to face off.
Foss is again having to travel to compete in the cage, since MMA is outlawed in Norway, and Foss may be waiting a while to fight in front of his hometown fans, but he would rather focus on the positives.
“It is frustrating,” he said. “But I get to go out of my comfort zone, many fighters just fight in front of their own fans. I’m always the underdog, which is good for me, I like that feeling.”
“I feel like I need to prove myself more when I fight in my opponent’s backyard.”
The rescheduled bout takes places this weekend in Dublin, and the opportunity to fight in Ireland has made the delay a lot easier for Foss. “I’ve never been to Ireland before, it is another land to fight in and visit. I love the fighting spirit of Irish fans; they have a similar passion to us Norwegians!”
“I’m treating the fight like every other fight, but that great atmosphere will be added motivation, I’ll be fighting in an arena packed with Irish fans.”
His opponent will also be travelling to Ireland, and it will be his first professional fight outside of the UK. The Frontline MMA fighter believes that this new experience could have an impact on his opponent’s performance. “He won’t be in his comfort zone this time,” he said. “We will see how he has prepared for fighting abroad, whereas I have travelled around a lot, and this is another area where I have the upper hand.”
The welterweight travelled to Italy in 2015, where he fought Cage Warriors 80 headliner, and newly crowned CWFC welterweight champion, Karl Amoussou at Venator 2. Foss, with just six pro fights to his name, was caught in a leg lock and forced to tap in the first round. Amoussou had 29 fights to his name when the two met and he outclassed the Norwegian. “I was certain that I could beat him when I walked into the cage. I didn’t prepare enough; it was on 2 weeks’ notice. I got caught; he looked good in that fight. I would love to fight him again.”
Foss was keen to learn from that loss, frustrated that he had been caught in a leg lock, he decided to enter a submission wrestling tournament a week later. “I just wanted to get more time on the floor,” he told SevereMMA.
“I didn’t like losing like that, so I wanted to go and improve my skills. I went to a lot of tournaments and got quite far, got to a final and lost on points.”
Foss was also scheduled to fight Matt Inman at a Cage Warriors event in Jordan. He took the fight on 5 days’ notice, travelled from Oslo to London, but heavy fog prevented their flight from landing on time and they missed the connecting flight to Jordan. And then missed their rescheduled flight to Jordan. He told SevereMMA that he would be open to fighting Matt Inman in the future if Cage Warriors offered it to him.
Having lost to one of the main event fighters, and came close to fighting the other, Foss had spent a considerable amount of time studying both fighters. And was asked for a prediction on the headline fight ahead of time, “Karl has the upper hand,” he answered.
“He has more experience, he is more aggressive than Matt. Inman is a good distance striker, but I think Karl will get him in the clinch and Matt will struggle.”
Amoussou defeated Inman in the first round of the CWFC80 main event, and used his post-fight interview to make the UFC aware that he was looking for a contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion. Hakon Foss has his eyes set on the Cage Warriors 170lbs belt and hopes that the reigning champion stays with Cage Warriors for at least 3 more fights,
“I think I could easily hang with Karl, I could beat him,” he said. “I want the right amount of time to prepare and train. I think I will be calling him out, but not after this fight, after the next.”