In recent time, Ché Mills (16-8) has had the odds stacked against him. However, on Saturday night, he returns to action against SBG Mainline’s Matt Inman (18-8) as Cage Warriors enters the BT Studios for ‘CW Unplugged.’
Following a severe rupture of his Achilles tendon, the Gloucester battler was last seen in May on Venator FC 3 in a returning bout that ended somewhat unceremoniously for Mills. In a fight that was supposed to mean so much, it ended up meaning very little.
“The Venator fight was only a one-fight deal,” Mills informed. “It could’ve been fun if things developed, but the way that fight finished left me feeling very anticlimactic. I didn’t think it was an illegal elbow and if you watch the replay, I certainly wasn’t intending to hit him there.
“It wasn’t that big an elbow either. In the end, the ref has the final say. That was my first fight back and now it’s behind me, I’m looking at what’s coming up.”
With the No Contest ruling behind him, Mills re-signed with Cage Warriors and moved his mindset onto a bout that had many fans rubbing their hands together, as he was scheduled to meet fellow fun scrapper Lewis Long in Wales in October.
As luck would have it, that fight would also fail to materialise. Mills feels that bout would have been a true spectacle, and one that would have given him a chance in to make up for lost time with a statement.
“From what I’m aware of, it came down to Lewis having personal issues at the time,” the UFC veteran detailed. “It could have been a really good fight in his backyard, but these things happen in life. I’ve nothing but respect for Lewis and I hope things are well with him.
“I found out a week or so before fight week and I was hopeful there’d be a replacement of some sort. When I was told I definitely wasn’t on the card, it hurt a little bit as I’d been through a full camp. Cage Warriors have done well this time round to get me someone who’ll challenge me in the very same facets, so I’m raring to go.”
On the domestic circuit, it’s been felt for a long time that a clash between Mills and Inman has been inevitable. Two of the most combustible welterweights that UK MMA has to offer and with that, a refocused Che feels that this fight could prove vital for a shot at Cage Warriors welterweight gold.
“I think this fight has the chance to put me back in there with the best guys on the scene,” Mills opined. “I definitely know I’m one of the best in Europe and a beating a man like Inman is the way to prove it. We’ve both got great hands and I’m really looking to just put on an entertaining fight. I think I’m one of the few old school guys left who just want to fight for the purpose of entertainment.
“Everybody has their goals now and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just more interested in having great fights and with me, there’s value in that and that’s what I’m looking to deliver. Nonetheless I think there’s potential here for the winner to get a chance to fight for the welterweight title and I’d really like to have a chance at it.
“It’s been a while since my last Cage Warriors fight and that didn’t end how I wanted it. There’s more eyes than ever on MMA now and I think this is the perfect fight for me to just go out and enjoy fighting again.”
As aforementioned, times haven’t been the easiest for the Team Trojan representative as of late. Che missed the entirety of 2015 through injury, however the 170-pounder feels that time out has been a blessing in disguise as his outlook has taken a severe adjustment ever since.
Prior to the rupture, Mills found himself with very low morale for the fight game that ultimately led him to moving up to middleweight. Now he’s back in the gym and has reviewed his previous decisions with a fine-tooth comb, Mills feels his motivation for fighting hasn’t been this sharp in a long, long time.
“It’s been a while since anybody has seen me truly fight,” Che began. “The Venator thing was what it was. Being back on these shores in real fights with Cage Warriors gets me excited. Before I injured my achilles I really wasn’t finding my passion for it and I really thought it was fading away. The injury made me appreciate so much as, at first, I couldn’t even walk for three months. That was a painful process to get back from.
“Missing the simplest of things like walking and the bare basics of MMA, you realise a lot. After all the therapy I jumped in and had a K-1 fight just to get the ring rust gone and that was so much fun. I realised how much I enjoyed training, competing – even doing interviews.
“Going up to middleweight was one of these issues as well. I felt stronger, I could eat more and only had to cut two to three kilograms which is nothing. However, I really felt the extra weight on top of me when trying to move around during fights and I especially felt my opponent’s strength, too. It wasn’t a good move by me. I belong at welterweight and that’s where I’ll remain. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve felt this excited going into a fight. Possibly going back to before my UFC days and when I’m this excited, it’s scary.
“Now I’m contracted with Cage Warriors again, it’s helped morale, too. They’ve signed some great competition that I’d love to get my hands on afterwards.”
Saturday marks Che’s thirteenth year as a professional and it tends to be around this time that critics begin to ask the old questions of a combatant’s plans. On Saturday, Mills plans to silence those questions for a long time.
“I see myself with plenty left. I’m only thirty-four, but as I said before, I feel like I’m doing this to entertain the fans now. That old school mentality has stuck with me throughout my career and it’s what’s given me the reputation and respect I have today.
“People might watch me and think I’m the same, but ever since my injury I’m a totally different guy. I’m so much better everywhere and I know everybody says they’ve improved after each camp, but I can and will prove it. A win would mean the world to me on Saturday. I need to show what I’m about. My outlook has changed completely. I don’t make predictions, but being back active with this mindset, you can expect this to be big.”
You can catch Cage Warriors Unplugged live on BT Sport.
Find our man Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Williams