HE COULD be forgiven if his mind was elsewhere today, but Mike ‘300’ Hayes has got his eyes on the prize: revenge against DJ Linderman.
Having captured the belt courtesy of March’s CWFC Fight Night 4 win against Andreas Kraniotakes in Dubai, the CWFC heavyweight champion defends his title for the first time tonight at Cage Warriors 47 at The Helix in Dublin, Ireland.
Linderman provides the opposition in what will be a repeat of their bout in Washington three years ago. The fight went the distance, the decision went to Linderman, but that just marked the beginning of a heated rivalry.
“He beat me on points, but he definitely beat me,” admits Hayes. “Then months after the fight he started talking a lot of trash, calling me out and calling me every name in the book.
“He said I was ducking him, which was a bunch of crap. I was signed with Bellator and training for the tournament. People talking that kind of trash, I’m not okay with that. Some friendly trash talk in this game is no big deal, but he totally crossed the line.”
It’s a big weekend for Mike Hayes. He could pick up his seventh consecutive win in the Irish capital tonight and, all going well, his wife Meghan will have given birth to their third child by the time he’s back on US soil. Remaining focused under those circumstances has been difficult, but the 31-year-old insists he’s absolutely ready.
“It’s been tough, but I’ve been staying in touch with Meghan. She’s been in and out of the hospital with labour contractions and everything. I’m just hoping she hangs on for another few days before having the baby.
“The doctor said it could be any day now. I’ve just had to set it aside. It’s my third child, not my first, which makes it a lot easier, but I’m here to fight in order to provide for my family and that’s what I’ve got to remember.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s CWFC 47 main event, Hayes is confident of retaining his title by reversing that loss to Linderman in 2009.
“He can’t hurt me. He still has no power in his hands, the worst kicks I’ve ever seen. He’s tough, I’ll give him that, but he beat me before because I was a terrible wrestler back then.
“Now I’m a very adequate wrestler and my ground-game is so much better. I feel confident that I can beat him anywhere. I feel like I could finish him early if I want to, but I’m not going to. I’m going to hurt him. I’m going to beat him up and make him feel every shot.”