With just two and a half weeks to prepare, Kraniotakes has agreed to face Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Mike Hayes for the vacant heavyweight title of England’s Cage Warriors Fighting Championship. The bout will take place March 16 at the promotion’s “Fight Night 4” event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Cage Warriors director Graham Boylan confirmed the booking to Sherdog.com on Monday.
The 30-year-old “Big Daddy” Kraniotakes accepted similar spontaneous job offers last year when he took on 6-foot-10 Englishman Dave Keeley just three weeks after knocking out Jay Mortimore. Most notably, he also stepped in for the injured Pedro Rizzo and took on former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at ProElite 2 with only 18 days’ notice.
“I am overwhelmed by the opportunity Cage Warriors has given me,” Kraniotakes, who is currently training in Romania, told Sherdog.com on Monday. “It’s a dream come true to finally be fighting for a world title at this stage of my career and I’m fully determined to bring that belt home. Of course, 20 days is not a lot of time to prepare for a five-rounder, but I’m still in good shape from my last fight at Cage Warriors and positive that I can deliver another good performance.”
Hayes, 31, is a graduate of the Pacific Northwest circuit who holds an impressive 16-4-1 record. “300” has been to the big show before, making his third pro fight for Strikeforce and later grinding out a 2-1 record inside the Bellator Fighting Championships with wins over Steven Banks and Neil Grove. Hayes has also faced UFC veterans Mario Miranda and Fabiano Scherner in his five-year professional career.
The winner of this heavyweight battle will succeed Jeff Monson as the Cage Warriors heavyweight champion. The “Snowman” won the title by submitting Tengiz Teodoradze in April of 2005 and defended it once against Frenchman Marc Emmanuel later that year. The belt was vacated when Monson signed with the UFC and was unable to defend it for more than a year.
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