Rooney on CWFC 73: “Whether it’s on the feet or the ground I’m getting the finish”

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Damien “The Rage” Rooney will make his flyweight debut at Cage Warriors 73 in Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Saturday where he will face off against top ranked English prospect Shaj Haque.

Rooney, who runs his own performance gym away from fighting, explained how his 130 lbs catchweight win over Bryan Creighton back in March made the transition to the lighter weight so much easier.

“The last few times I made bantamweight I did it very comfortably so that got me thinking about moving to 125 lbs initially,” Rooney revealed. “Then I start seeing some of the fights that were available at that weight and I thought it was the time to do it.

“Making 130 for the Creighton fight was pretty tough to begin with. It wasn’t a killer or anything, but it was as tough as any weight cut I’ve ever done. Once I made it I knew the next logical step was to go down to flyweight.

“I had to get quite scientific with it, every calorie I put out and every calorie I put back in was counted over the twelve weeks for the greater cause. Touch wood everything has gone well so far, but obviously we won’t know for sure until tomorrow at the weigh in, but I literally couldn’t have asked for anything to go better in the whole camp.”

The Team Torres man made no bones about calling out Haque ahead of their matchup being announced but struggles to see why his future opponent seems to have taken it as an insult.

“To be honest, it was never about that,” he explained. “If Demetrious Johnson was on the Cage Warriors books I’d want to fight him too. I don’t need to see something that I think I’ll be able to capitalize on – I just want to fight the best.

“Apart from Haque, Marcin Lasota is on the card as well, and he was someone else who I openly said that I wouldn’t mind fighting on Twitter as well, and that was because he was so highly regarded. I wanted either of them because they were supposed to be two of the best in the division.

“When I got the fight with Haque I was delighted, it was the fight I was looking for. Reading a few of his interviews I think he’s been a bit insulted by me calling him out, but that’s his choice really because there was absolutely nothing personal behind it. I would have taken it as a compliment that someone wanted to fight me.”

Many believe that between Rooney vs Haque and another flyweight bout on the card, Marcin Lasota vs Brett Caswell, a flyweight champion will eventually emerge. Despite this, Rooney maintains he has tunnel vision on the task at hand.

He said: “I’m just focusing on me and this Haque fight. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the other fights. They are very intriguing matchups, I’ve seen those guys perform. Lasota has been very impressive, he has a very strong ground game, he has a really strong resume coming in and he’s probably one of the top, if not the top, flyweight outside of UFC in Europe.

“Caswell is going in with nothing to lose and all to gain. He’s a very talented guy, he’s been a medallist in the Commonwealth Games in judo, he showed a lovely submission in his last fight – so it’s a tough one to call. It’s a shame I won’t see it, I do imagine that it’s going to be an exciting matchup. I’ve just got to focus on my fight and take each step as it comes”

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Despite being completely focused on Saturday’s contest, Rooney insisted that he would not continue to compete if he didn’t believe he could become the Cage Warriors flyweight champion:

“I wouldn’t be in this game if I didn’t think I could be the champion. I’m not in this for pay cheques – I have my job and that pays the bills – so I’m just doing this to prove I can compete at the top level. If I didn’t think I had the capacity to compete at the top level I just wouldn’t compete at all. I’d quit, I’m a very competitive person.

“This is all about showing that the game hasn’t passed me by. I could never be a journeyman. The minute I see myself getting passed by a bit, that’ll be it, I’ll be out of the game.”

Finally, Rooney gave his prediction of what he thinks will happen when he meets Haque in the middle of the cage on Saturday.

“I stopped making game plans a few fights ago and that’s what has worked best for me. I used to go in thinking ‘I’m going to do this because he’s going to do that’, but to be honest, these guys are at the top level – I don’t know what he’s going to do. I only know what I’m going to do.

“It’s more like a sort of adaptation that I have in my head. I’m gonna go in and start out the way I want to start out and then the fight will take shape as it does. I’m prepared everywhere, whatever happens, whether it’s on the feet or the ground I’m getting the finish,” he said.

 @PetesyCarroll

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