Undefeated English flyweight Jake Hadley returns to action on home soil determined to deliver a statement to the UFC that he’s ready to challenge the very best at 125 pounds.
Hadley (5-0) takes on fellow rising prospect Shajidul Haque (10-4) in the co-main event of Cage Warriors 114, which takes place Sept. 24 at the BEC Arena in Manchester, England. The event streams live on UFC Fight Pass.
It’s a fight that pits two of the top European flyweight prospects head to head, and Hadley says the level of his opponent presents the perfect test as he bids to prove his worth as a world-class 125-pound contender.
“It’s a top fight, in the UK and Europe, especially,” he told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’m the best flyweight in Europe at the moment who’s not signed to the UFC, and I’d say Shaj is No. 2. He’s a top fighter, he’s got top wins over top guys like Ronnie Mann and Sam Creasey, who’s one of my sparring partners. It’s a good fight. I’m a former world champion in the EFC in South Africa, so I’ve got some big wins, like Zulu, Blaine O’Driscoll in Bellator. So it’s a top fight on a top card.”
Hadley, who has finished four of his five wins, including three in the first round, and captured the flyweight title for South African promotion EFC in 2019, will make his Cage Warriors debut on Sept. 24. But the 24-year-old from Birmingham hopes that future fights will see him competing inside the UFC octagon, where he thinks he already has the ability to mix it up with the world’s best at 125 pounds, including the likes of Joseph Benavidez, Brandon Moreno, Alex Perez and champion Deiveson Figueiredo.
“To be fair, I honestly believe I could beat them right now,” he stated. “I believe if they were in the gym with me right now, I’d give them hard, hard work. Obviously, it would probably be a harder fight right now, but in a year or two’s time, when I’m actually fighting them, I’ll run through them and I’ll become champion of the world, no doubt in my mind. I feel like I’m already ready, but by the time I fight them, I’ll be more than ready and they won’t even have a chance.”
The reason for Hadley’s confidence is the company he’s already kept at flyweight. While he hasn’t fought in the octagon yet, he thinks his recent opposition is at the same level as those in the UFC, and says that if he gets the opportunity to prove it, he’ll show he’s ready to jump straight onto the big stage and become an instant threat to the world’s best at 125.
“I believe I’m fighting UFC-caliber guys already and I’m not even in the UFC,” he explained. “I fought Nkazimulu Zulu (and) beat him. He was on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 24, the flyweight one, and he did very well in there with them and trained with Henry Cejudo. And, from what I heard, he used to smash Henry Cejudo striking. These are just words on the street, but I feel I could hang with those guys right now. But, by the time I fight them, in a year or two’s time, I’ll finish them, no doubt.”
Confirmed fights for Cage Warriors 114 include:
- Champion Samir Faiddine vs. Luke Shanks (for flyweight title)
- Jake Hadley vs. Shajidul Haque
- Mateusz Figlak vs. Madars Fleminas
- Aaron Khalid vs. Mick Stanton
- Adam Amarasinghe vs. Coner Hignett
- Oban Elliott vs. Michal Figlak
- Alan Brykalski vs. John Mitchell
- Matt Bonner vs. George Smith
- Jack Maguire vs. Ciaran Mulholland