Calen Born (6-1 MMA) is gearing up to re-enter the cage for the first time in over a year. He’s slated to fight Craig Fairley (3-3 MMA) at Shamrock FC 328 Saturday, Feb. 22.
Even with Born’s layoff, he doesn’t consider Fairley a tuneup fight.
“He does have three finishes, so he’s obviously a great athlete and no slouch,” Born told MMASucka. “This will be a good one for me to get back into the swing of things and show all of the things I’ve been working on over the past year.”
Born is excited to showcase his improvements in front of his hometown crowd, as the card goes down in Kansas City, MO. He said being able to fight in front of his fans was a key reason why he’s returning to Shamrock FC after two fight stints in LFA and C3 Fights.
Born suffered his first professional defeat in his last bout to Austin Jones at LFA 57. The card took place at Broomfield, CO, at elevation. Born admitted the high altitude contributed to the unanimous decision loss and said he learned that if he takes another fight at elevation, he’ll train there for a month instead of a couple of days.
“That was definitely a hard lesson to learn,” he said. “I was super ready for that last fight, and I’m even more ready for this one.”
Born said, assuming he defeats Fairley, he doesn’t know what’s next for him. When asked if he’d be eyeing a potential crack at the Shamrock FC welterweight belt, Born said he wasn’t sure, and that money talks. There’d also be a commitment factor.
“I never want to win a belt that I don’t defend. I’m not Conor [McGregor]. If I take a belt, I want to defend it and prove to everyone I deserve it.”
With that in mind, Born said he doesn’t know which promotion will be his next. But he did say it will be whichever one gives him the most exposure for the most money.
“LFA has treated me superb in both of those rights,” Born said. “I hope to fight for them in the spring. If it doesn’t work out until the summer, I pick up another fight with Shamrock, and so be it.”
Whichever promotion Born fights for next, the goal is the same: at least three wins in 2020, which would get him to 9-1 as a pro.
Speaking hypothetically, Born said, “I really do believe that the UFC should be taking a hard look at someone who’s not only 9-1 in professional MMA, but has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a black belt in Judo, and my stand-up game is one of my stronger suits. It gets people wanting to take me down all the time.”
Calen Born vs. Craig Fairley
Born’s 2020 campaign starts with Fairley, however. When looking at the match-up, he said his opponent doesn’t like to get hit or mix it up too much.
“So I’m assuming he’ll try to wait until I come after him or commit on some big shots and then try to take me down,” he said. “I feel very, very, confident against him on my feet.”
Born added that he recently received his BJJ black belt, while he believes Fairley is a purple belt. Wherever the fight takes place, Born just wants to put on a show for the fans.
“I know a lot of people wouldn’t mind me knocking him out or doing something like a highlight reel finish. Hopefully that will give me notice and propel me to the front of the line this summer.”
Shamrock FC 328 goes down Feb. 22 from the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, MO. The card can be live-streamed on FITE TV for $20.