“Capcom” Cory Tait has been one of the most exciting fighters on the UK regional scene for years. Ever since his front kick KO of Dino Gambatesa back in 2010, Tait has been a fighter to watch. At 26-years old and with ten fights under his belt, he’s poised to really break out as one of the UK’s brightest prospect. He recently moved to Lion’s Pride MMA, training alongside UFC light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa. And now, he’s the main event of this weekend’s Cage Warriors 72 card, in a title fight against Finnish prospect Toni Tauru (who himself is on a nine fight unbeaten streak) for the vacant CWFC bantamweight title. A win here could push one of these men closer to a spot in the UFC, especially in a bantamweight division that’s always on the lookout for exciting young talent.
Tait sat down with Bloody Elbow ahead of his Cage Warriors 72 title fight, taking place on September 13th, to talk about his career so far in MMA, and where he feels he’s at right now, along with where he hopes this win will take him.
What were you doing before you started your career as a professional fighter?
I was literally working in a few retail shops. A toy shop, a clothes shop, and I was teaching on the side. Yeah again, all three avenues wasn’t bringing in enough, man. That’s life isn’t it. This world ain’t trying to let you get rich, you know what I’m saying. That was pretty much the ideology behind it. I saw, I think it was Anderson Silva fight Chris Leben around the same time, and then I was like, “Okay, maybe I could do that. Give it a try.” The rest is history.
How much of your traditional martial arts background have you been able to carry into MMA? Did you have to build your MMA game basically from scratch?
I wouldn’t necessarily say from scratch. Because the thing is, with MMA, a lot of guys have now, because MMA has come out, they have just threw out all the traditional stuff that got us to this point in the first place. Do you know what I’m saying? To me, you can’t forget about what got you there. In any… You know, you look at music today, and we can reference and do all of that stuff, but the new artists wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the old artists and that, like in music. It’s the same thing for MMA for me. So, I didn’t really take anything out. Its just more like, adding in and just seeing how I can apply what I already know to MMA. It worked out, because not everybody’s traditional.
You recently moved to Lion’s Pride MMA, Jimi Manuwa’s camp, how has that change been?
Well, to be honest, the complete move was done about six months ago. But, six months before that is when I actually started training there, and that’s… I’ve probably been training there from about last year, really. But, I was just inbetween Gintas Combat and Jimi’s. So yeah, now that I’m there more permanent, it’s working out, man. I mean, he’s in the UFC, doing big things. Everybody knows who he is, I’m sure, in America now. But yeah, so it’s my turn next, hopefully.
Have you been able to go outside the UK and train at all?
No, not yet, man. That’s one goal that I’m trying to achieve next. Really, I haven’t got to do that yet, man. I’d love to. I want to come over there.
I’m kinda just trying to put my cards together and see where the best place for me is. I mean, I’m not… I don’t want to go overseas and then stick to one place, because America is massive, man, and I wanna still take in the experience, just for martial arts, not just for my career. People that I’ve always wanted to train with, people that I’ve watched and respected over the years. That’ll be one of the good things to do, but we’ll see after this fight, if I can get out there and do something.
And you’ve been fighting for about 4 years professionally. How far away are you from where you want to be?
That’s a good question, man. In terms of career? It’s a weird… It’s a good question, but I have to answer it in, sorta, two parts. I mean, on one side, for my fight, for what I’ve done in my fights, for what I’ve produced in my fights, to me, there’s no one in the UK that’s doing it like me, really. In America there’s still… I guess I’m a bit more, part of the bunch in America, but over here it gives me the chance to stand out. I think, given the opportunities that I’ve done in my fights, I think I’m exactly where I need to be, career wise.
On the other side, I don’t feel I’m pushed enough, in this country, either. It’s not until… I think it’s gonna take… I mean, I crescent kicked a guy, knocked him out, before Anderson Silva. I think all it’s gonna take now is me jumping off the cage and everyone’s gonna be like, “Oh, my god, he’s like Pettis.” And that’s gonna skyrocket me. Do you know what I mean, isn’t it? It’s gonna be off the back end of someone else, and I really don’t want that, I’m not really trying to do that, man. And again, I thought, I really did think that I would have taken off having done the kick before Anderson. But, I guess that was still young in my career and I shoulda kinda known better. But, you know, it is what it is.
So again, long story short, I don’t think I’m exactly where I need to be, in terms of respect and stuff like this. A lot of fighters in this country, and even promoters and stuff like this, a lot of people still count me out in a lot of fights. I mean, I’ve got eight wins. I still got two losses, but in those eight wins, I’ve never gone the distance. Four knockouts, four submissions. I mean, I don’t think there’s anybody that’s really as versatile as me in this country. And I think, it’s not until I get to the UFC and then knock someone out, and then the UK’s gonna be like, “Oh my god, like, he’s the savior!” Like, “Dadadada” You know how it goes, isn’t it. I don’t want to be like, Mike Tyson style, and just hate on everybody. Once I actually blow and make it, like, “Aw, fuck them. They never helped me get here in the first place.” I don’t want to have that chip on my shoulder, man. But, it’s difficult, it’s difficult, but you know, you get through it.
Did you catch the recent UFC bantamweight title fight?
Yeah yeah, I caught that last night; kept me up until 3 am watching that. I didn’t want to go to sleep with someone tweeting me, waking me up with, “Hey did you see that? Dadadadada. He done this.” So yeah, I did manage to catch it, man. Credit to Dillashaw, man. He’s taken the ball and run with it. You can’t hate on a guy for that. I’m a fighter too, so I know. And credit to Joe Soto, man. What was that, like a day’s notice? And who knows if it was a real day or not, and this was already set up? You never know. I always like to play the conspiracy theorist. But, like I said, they both went in and done the business, like five rounds, pretty much. So, yeah man, gotta give them their ratings.
Would you have stepped up on a day’s notice for a UFC title shot?
A hundred percent. A hundred percent. I’m not saying I could beat Dillashaw, but then I ain’t saying I’d get whooped by Dillashaw either. I’m a real fighter, man. Until I’m in the UFC and proving this, it might all seem like thought. But, yeah, I’d have taken that shot on a day’s notice. What, for that peak? For that money? For that check? For that title? For all of that, I’d have done that in a second. In a second, man. But, again, they called Joe, they didn’t call me.
If the UFC doesn’t come knocking, have you considered fighting for Bellator?
I’ve thought about it, but to me, I still gotta try to think business-wise. And if… You could have a great career in Bellator, but for right now, as it stands right now… I’ve trained today, so I’m a bit tired, forgive me. But right now, I could not tell you a champion’s name in Bellator. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, you could come out of Bellator and no one would ever know you were there. So, your seminars and anything you try and do after that, people be like, “Ehh, that’s Pepsi, that’s not Coke.” Do you know what I’m sayin? That’s one of them type of deals. I personally wouldn’t want Bellator. If worse comes to worse, then I hit a guy… I was in the UFC, then I hit a guy after the third bell or something like that, end up in Bellator. No disrespect at the same time. But again, that’s not my only option, is it?
The change from Rebney to Coker didn’t change that at all for you?
Yeah, you gotta kinda see how it goes. Again… I forgot until you said that that Scott Coker took over. So yeah, you just gotta see how the organization runs and if it makes any improvements. If it doesn’t, then yeah, your just going to be like, “It’s still division B.” There’s Premiere League Division A, Division B, you know what I’m sayin? That’s how it looks to the public eye as well and I just don’t think I’m that kind of fighter, so I wouldn’t want to sell myself short. Not saying anyone in Bellator is, but you know.
Have you ever tried out for the Ultimate Fighter, is that something you’re interested in?
That’s another thing, as well. That again, it’s not B Team, but again, you come in, people don’t really respect you the same. You might have been at your weakest point in the house, and now everybody has seen that. Psychological, like everyone will feel they’ve got one over on you and can say whatever type of shit they want. You know what I’m saying? I’m a nice guy, but at the same time, I’m no punk. And if someone pissed in my bed or something like that, I’d pack my bags, go into whatever fighter diary room or whatever, tell everyone exactly what happened, “I’m sorry, but I have to leave the show,” get out, and beat the shit out of whoever it was. That’s the kind of person I am, so it’s not wise for me to go onto a show like the Ultimate Fighter.
But, like I said, man, if worse comes to worse, and I go on a twenty fight losing streak until I’m 34, then yeah, maybe I will jump in. But, until then, man, it’s just, it’s all about credentials. I mean, look at what’s his name, Hall, Uriah Hall. Yeah, fucking hell. He wishes he came in on credentials.
It all depends on the person. Yeah, the bubbly characters and whatever, the Bruce Leeroy’s and that, they’ll do well. I’m not always as well received and that’s another thing that I’m not sure if that affects my like-ability as a fighter, or whatever. But, I don’t know, some people love me, some people fucking can’t stand me. You don’t know. I don’t want to go on the show and just be UFC’s most hated. Do you know what I’m saying? Not what I want, man.
What prompted your recent move from UCMMA to Cage Warriors?
To be honest, it was more just levels of competition, man. Not that the levels were going down, but slowly I felt I was beating the division up. Some guys… There was guys messaging me, saying that their promoters offered them to fight and they was like, “Well, they asked if I was gonna fight you, man. So, I just pulled out and quit MMA.” If people are actually starting to do that in an organization… I mean, that’s not the promoter’s fault, that’s the fighters themselves. I’m like, if fighters actually don’t want to fight me, then obviously I’m too good for this division and this organization.
I remember Cage Warriors, at the time, they were just picking guys. Literally, grabbing them out of UCMMA. I don’t even know if they asked me, or if I just jumped on it myself, but I was just like, “Yeah man, I’d rather take the jump, man.” I’d already won two belts there, so if I win another one at Cage Warriors, I’m not sure if that’s been done in the UK. If I become… What’s that? Two different organizations, two different weights, three different belts? Yeah, three different belts, yeah. I don’t know if that’s been done in the UK before. Look forward to it. That’s what I’m trying to do. Don’t know if it’ll work, but we’ll see.
Has Cage Warriors been any different?
I feel, Cage Warriors, they do a better job of working with you to promote you, I guess. It’s all up to you, how much you want to put into yourself, Cage Warriors will kinda see that and help push you along a little bit. I feel, anyway. UCMMA, not that they didn’t do that, but you just, you had to ask for everything. Like, “Can I get on here? Can I dadada?” Not to talk bad on anybody, but it just, to me I was like, “I’m the one carrying this show.” Maybe I wasn’t, but to me I was like, “I’m the best guy here.”
After Jimi left and after a couple other guys left and went to Cage Warriors I was like, “I’m the best guy here.” So, if they’re not promoting me and paying me like the guy that’s carrying the show, then yeah, I guess I’ll walk. I mean, I’m not a heavyweight and I know that the tradition is, yeah, the heavyweight, the heavier guys will get paid more, but I mean, Mayweather’s the richest guy in sports and he don’t weigh much more than me. To me, I see yeah, why can’t I get the same?
You’re fighting Toni Tauru next, for the CWFC bantamweight title. Do you have any specific gameplan in mind for him?
Not a big gameplan. I’m not a gameplanner. I just like to fight. We’ll get in, I like to try and do what I do and have a general idea of what they might want to do and try to do, and then just go from there. And I think that’s what makes for a good fight, because again, people look at me and the fighters that do like me, or the fans that do like me, they’ll always say they just don’t know what I’m gonna do. And that’s not because half the time I don’t know what I’m gonna do, but I’m just literally feeling the fight. Literally, if I see something I’ll try and do it as fast as I can. And that’s where the explosion and everything comes out from.
So, yeah man, I’m excited to fight him. It’s a good test, man. I’ve said before, he does pose some new threats and things for me to think about, but at the same time, the last few guys that I’ve fought are still very similar to his style. My point being, is that he’s… I’ve fought a lot more guys like him than he’s fought more guys like me. He might struggle in the beginning and then have to adapt. And in that time is where people get caught. We’ll see how it goes. I look forward to it, man. This is my first actual, international fight. They’re flying him over here and all of that, for me. So, yeah man, that’s pretty cool.
For a lot of fighters, a Cage Warriors title has been a jumping off point to a UFC contract. Is that something you’re thinking about?
Yeah, trust me. That’s my Mario mushroom right there, brother. That’s gonna jump me right to the UFC octagon, hopefully.
Reports are that the UFC will be rolling out a more involved drug testing program soon. Is that something you’ve heard about?
To me, too much guys… Not so much any more, they’re kinda killing it now, but yeah, that TRT stuff, that stuff that was going on for a bit, that Vitor Belfort was just coming out and just spinning kicking people. First round, just annihilating people, getting the out, man. Who else was there? Dan Henderson, Shogun, there’s a few fighters, man. Again, it’s entertaining fights, they’re on that stuff, but really, man, that’s not right. You wouldn’t inject two dogs and make them fight each other, do you know I’m saying? To the death. Because, in hindsight, that’s really what they’re doing.
Who else was the other one? What’s the knockout, man? Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva. Chael failed man. I don’t know who’s actually on it, but I look at the fights and I just know the power that some of these guys are throwing and landing each other with, it just doesn’t matter, man. These guys train everyday. If you hit someone on the chin, they’re gonna sleep. It’s not science, do you know what I’m saying? But, it is science if you’re kicking them, kneeing them in the face, they’re bleeding out, their eye’s half hanging out and they’re still like, “Yeah, yeah, you want another round, yeah?” You gotta ask a question here and there, man. I’m just happy, yeah. If they’re clearing that up, that’s all the better, man. But again, I don’t have to worry about it, I can just make jokes and that, because I’m nice and healthy.
Do you know anything about that Cage Warriors Sweden card that got cancelled?
I know nothing. I’m terrible with all of this stuff, man. I don’t know anything. I just know, they tell me when I’m fighting, they tell me about a bunch of people that are on the card, fighting with me. I did some promo yesterday. And yeah, the guy taking the pictures, he was telling me about this guy and this card and this fight that’s gonna be on the same card as me. And I’m like, “I don’t know this guy, man.” I don’t want to feel bad about it, but I don’t know them. I don’t know if they know me, at the same time. But, you can’t eat if you’re watching someone else’s plate, man. I can only focus on me.
CWFC 72 takes place on September 13th in Newport Wales. It airs live in the US at MMAJunkie.com starting at 4 Eastern, 1 Pacific. You can follow Cory Tait on Twitter @CapcomCory
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