Every cloud has a silver lining, and Christian Leroy Duncan certainly has plenty to be excited for as he heads into 2023 as the latest British fighter to join the UFC.
Cage Warriors middleweight champion Duncan was all set to headline the promotion’s New Year’s Eve show, Cage Warriors 148, in a title defense against former middleweight champion Jesse Taylor, but unexpected events forced his bout off the card.
Taylor was involved in a hit-and-run incident in Greenwich at 1am on Friday night and was sent to hospital and kept in overnight for checks before eventually being released with a clean bill of health on Saturday morning.
However, following the incident the American was not medically cleared to compete in his main event clash with Duncan, and the bout was removed from the card on the morning of the event.
But, as the main card broadcast of Cage Warriors 148 got underway, commentator Brad Wharton was joined on screen by Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan and Duncan, who revealed that he had been signed by the UFC and that he would relinquish his Cage Warriors title and prepare for his Octagon debut.
That bout will take place at UFC 286 at The O2 Arena in London, where Duncan will look to showcase his spectacular striking skills on the sport’s biggest stage on March 18.
“First and foremost, I want to wish Jesse a speedy and healthy recovery,” said Duncan on the Cage Warriors 148 broadcast.
“It was a freak accident that happened – you couldn’t write what happened. There’s a lot of things in this game you can’t control, and unfortunately, this was one of them.
“I was looking forward to this fight. Jesse is one of the most experienced fighters on the planet in MMA. It would have been a great test for me, especially with the plans going forward to the next level.
“Saying that, at this time I think we’ve made a decision. I’ll be handing this belt back to Cage Warriors and next year, 2023, London, March, I’ll be looking to make my UFC debut in London.”
Boylan said that Duncan’s rise through the ranks from talented amateur prospect to Cage Warriors champion showed just what can be achieved by a fighter looking to progress from the amateur level to the top of the sport.
“This is a product of what we do at Cage Warriors,” he said.
“He’s been an amateur Grand Prix champion. He’s made his pro debut with the organization. He’s run through the division. He’s become the champion in the middleweight division. And tonight he signs with the UFC and makes his UFC debut in March in London. Congratulations, Christian Leroy Duncan.”