Behind Fate’s Door: The Twists and Turns of Cory Tait

Behind Fate’s Door: The Twists and Turns of Cory Tait

 

Five years is a lifetime in the ever-changing world of MMA. Jimi Manuwa was making his breakthrough on UFC Fight Night events and Michael Bisping had just made his cut to 185, with a seemingly petering out UFC career. At this point, UK MMA had a bright young prospect who was blowing away everyone in his wake, ready to make the move Stateside and push for greatness in the relatively new 135lb division, ‘Capcom’ Cory Tait.

“Well, that’s not quite how I remember it, as I’d just lost the Cage Warriors title fight” (to Toni Tauru), Tait recalled. “Things had gone sideways with my long-time coach, meaning that I ended up training for the biggest fight of my career in the 2ft square back garden belonging to my Muay Thai coach. No wrestling, just pads. Still, it took him four rounds on my worst day”.

This was the first of many pivotal moments in the young Tait’s fighting life. One of a row of ‘Sliding Door moments that leave you thinking ‘what if?’.

“I didn’t know where to turn for a while”, Cory continued. “I spoke to Linton (Vassell) who was over in Florida (at the now-defunct Blackzillians gym in Boca Raton). I went over there and gelled with everyone. I spent three months in Florida, the plan was to come back for a week to see my girl and family before flying out to Chechnya to fight on a show”.

Sliding Door Number Two

“I was only supposed to be home for 5 days. Back on Sunday, finishing off my weight cut to fly out on Friday. On Thursday I went to see a friend on the way home from the gym. After leaving there, I bumped into three guys I knew. I was just minding my business, but they were looking for a different friend of mine. Long story short, they weren’t looking for him with good intentions and we ended up scrapping. They messed me up. I had a massive cut above my eye, they smashed my face up, it wasn’t good. I’d spent so much money in Florida and this fight was going to pay all of that back. I had to FaceTime the Chechens and my coaches in Florida and explain why I couldn’t fight. The problem was though, I needed to make up that money that I’d lost from not being able to take this fight, so my career had to go on hold. I had to get a job”.

Opportunity Knocks?

Whilst Tait was having to rebuild his career, another young Brit had left Cage Warriors and travelled across the pond to test the waters with the up and coming promotion, Titan FC. Welshman Brett Johns had won 10 straight professional fights, culminating in a one-sided title win against James Brum on Cage Warriors 67. Two wins later and he added to his belt collection with the Titan FC strap before stepping into the UFC. Clearly keen to replicate that success story, Titan once more looked to the UK, with their timeline converging in perfect symmetry with the re-emergence of the now back-in-the-black Tait.

“I went back to Florida (to Blackzillians) in 2016, but I still wasn’t really ‘there’. They got me the fight on Titan, but I just wasn’t right”.

Including the Cage Warriors title bout, Tait had suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. “I had to take some more time off afterwards”.

The Next ”Door”

Fast forward to 2018 and the time off seemed to have reinvigorated Tait. A first-round comeback victory on Cage Warriors 99, where Capcom dropped Gavin Kelly with a devastating liver shot signalling his intent. Perhaps the step up in competition against the Continental-level Belgian Brian Bouland came too quickly in the reemergence of the Londoner, who was only competing in his 4th bout in the past 4 years. However, the fire is well and truly relit, with a move back to Florida to rejoin Henry Hooft and his team on the cards. “The regiment I had Stateside worked perfectly with me and I’m in my prime now. The best thing for me is to go and grab those last experience gems and really show what I’ve got”.

As for the issues with his former coach, “I forgive everyone and hold no grudges. Life is too short and opportunities are out there for everyone, I’m just trying to get mine”.

“I was supposed to be fighting Sam Spencer on Cage Warriors at the end of this month, but he pulled out injured and no replacement was found. They’ve said they’re still looking for another opponent for me, so we’ll see. I’m ready for whoever. It’s time to get my name back out there and let people see what I’m capable of. It’s my time to shine”.

The Cory Tait of 2014 has long gone, but the promise is well and truly there. The murmurs about the return of one of the UK’s prodigal sons are building to a crescendo, with the expectation of an exciting 2020 and beyond. Is this the Sliding Door moment that will allow that potential to be realised?

 

 

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