Irishman Moore to face TUF veteran for Bisping's old belt in 3Arena headliner

A light-heavyweight title bout between Karl Moore and Josh Clark will headline Cage Warriors 81 next month.

Karl Moore Karl Moore, who headlines Cage Warriors 81 on 4 March. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

A FORMER CONTESTANT on The Ultimate Fighter will aim to prevent Karl Moore (7-1) from becoming the next Irishman to win a Cage Warriors Fighting Championship title.

The London-based mixed martial arts organisation has announced today that the Belfast native will face Josh Clark (10-3) in the main event at Cage Warriors 81, which will take place at Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday, 4 March.

The winner will be awarded the Cage Warriors light-heavyweight title, which has been vacant ever since reigning UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping departed in 2006.

Cage Warriors 81 will mark the organisation’s first event in Ireland since August 2014, when current UFC lightweight Joseph Duffy scored a third-round submission win over Damien Lapilus in the main event at Cage Warriors 70 at The Helix.

It was the last of six landmark CWFC events that took place at the Dublin City University venue between 2012 and ’14, which featured former Irish champions such as Conor McGregor, Neil Seery, Cathal Pendred and Chris Fields.

Having returned to the MMA circuit last year following an 18-month hiatus, Cage Warriors have opted to upgrade to the much larger 3Arena for their next visit to Ireland, with Moore aiming to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned previous title holders.

Moore is one of the leading Irish fighters currently operating outside the UFC. The 25-year-old, who holds a 3-0 record under the CWFC banner, suffered his only career loss to current UFC fighter Paul Craig at BAMMA 22 in September 2015.

The most notable of Moore’s seven wins so far came against Cyril Asker, who was victorious via first-round TKO last month against Dmitri Smoliakov at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix.

“Karl has the chance to become the latest Irish Cage Warriors champion — and we’ve had some great ones — but this could go either way, all the way. It’s an exciting fight,” said Cage Warriors Fighting Championship president and Cork native Graham Boylan.

Clark will look to take a significant scalp on what’s likely to be hostile territory when he crosses the Atlantic for his Cage Warriors debut. The 32-year-old, who trains alongside Uriah Hall and Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, has taken all but one of his 10 professional wins inside the distance.

Nicknamed ‘The Hillbilly Heartthrob’, Clark was a member of BJ Penn’s team on TUF 19 but he failed to earn a UFC contract after suffering a decision defeat to Corey Anderson, who went on to win the season.

Joseph Duffy attempts to submit Damien Lapilus Joseph Duffy submits Damien Lapilus at Cage Warriors 70. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

The meeting of Moore and Clark is one of several big title fights on the horizon for Cage Warriors. Matt Inman and Karl Amoussou will fight for the vacant welterweight belt on 18 February in London, while Paddy Pimblett will defend his featherweight strap against Nad Narimani in Liverpool on 1 April.

With early bird tickets currently available from as little as €15, a large crowd is expected for Cage Warriors 81 at the 3Arena to see some of the latest crop of up-and-coming Irish fighters in action.

The event will also include a featherweight bout between undefeated Corkman Lloyd Manning and Scotland’s Paul McBain, as well as an atomweight contest between England’s Wendy McKenna and Limerick veteran Catherine Costigan. Although their opponents have yet to be announced, Belfast’s Joe McColgan and Cork’s Darren O’Gorman will also feature.

The main card will be broadcast live on Eir Sport, BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass, giving the likes of Moore, Manning, Costigan, McColgan and O’Gorman a valuable opportunity to increase their profiles in the pursuit of global success and recognition.

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