Elgin MMA featherweight Aidan Stephen is determined to keep his Cage Warriors momentum going when he takes on Sweden’s Tobias Harila in London tonight.
Stephen won his last bout against Turkey’s Emrah Sonmez courtesy of a unanimous decision in December, which put him back on track following a defeat to Irishman Paul Hughes in September.
Harila will make his Cage Warriors debut tonight, but will arrive at York Hall on the back of a six-fight professional winning streak.
Stephen anticipates a hands-on contest against his opponent, who has never attempted a takedown in his career, but he is confident that will suit his own style.
Stephen said: “I can’t wait. The last few people I have fought have tried to take me down and it has become a bit more of a grappling fight than a kickboxing or striking one.
“This guy comes from a boxing background, so I know he’s going to try and keep it standing, which is what I want.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I think I’m a very good striker as well.
“Everyone has been saying how good a prospect this guy is coming out of Sweden, but they were all saying that about Sonmez as well. He was ranked really high in the UK, he was on a good win streak, he was the big favourite with the bookies, but I went out there and absolutely dominated him.
“I think that was mainly because I had a point to prove after the fight before.
“Now I’m back in the winning column, I need to keep that momentum going. It’s not enough just to have one solid performance, I need them all to be solid performances.”
Stephen is eager to keep his winning form going in order to keep in contention for a title fight, with Frenchman Morgan Charriere and England’s Jordan Vucenic contesting the featherweight belt tonight.
Stephen added: “Credit to Cage Warriors for pushing on with it, because a lot of promotions have taken a back seat as they are worried about losing money.
“Because it’s three nights of fights, they can get pretty much the whole roster on.
“There are some really big names in the title fights this weekend, such as Paddy Pimbley.
“The featherweight title, which is the division I fight at, is on the line as the main event as well.
“I’ll be keeping an eye on that, because depending on how spectacular I win, I could be fighting for the title next.
“I know Paul Hughes has a victory over me, but he’s coming off a loss. Depending on how impressive both our performances are, one of us could be fighting for the title next.
“The landscape of the title picture can just change at any moment.”
Stephen’s status as a professional athlete allowed him access to his SBG Moray gym for training, which he feels has allowed him to make the best of his preparation time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added: “I arrived in London on Wednesday and I had to quarantine in my room. This is the fourth time I have done it now and it doesn’t get any more fun.
“Everyone only sees the fight, and the glitz and glamour side of it. They don’t see the sitting around in hotel rooms, the travelling, waiting about and dieting that goes into it.
“The ruling from the government was that you were allowed to train if you were a professional athlete, but only in a bubble with certain people.
“I managed to do the best I could. It’s not ideal and it’s not what I’m used to, but I got a really good camp considering what I was able to work with.
“I could either sit and make excuses or just get on with it.”