Clubs across the country made their nominations and the public then voted for their favourites on the internet, with Rush coming out best in three of the eight categories to members' great surprise. Reacting to the success yesterday (Monday), Rush Fight Academy coach Paul Cowzer - himself one of the award recipients - said: 'It's a small town and I didn't think we had a hope, but it's all down to hard work and a lot of dedication. 'Some clubs are very one-directional. They might focus on two aspects of MMA - say boxing and wrestling - and neglect one, but we don't tend to have a weak area in our game.' Malahide resident Neil Ward won the Amateur Fighter of the Year Award after going the whole year undefeated, but Cowzer was keen to stress that the Rush Academy is open to fighters of all abilities, including beginners. 'All the lads we have started from scratch. None of them came in as experts - they walked in the door and we made champions of them. 'Anyone at any level can join and it's not only for competitive people. There's ladies there and people who come in just to get fit, and there are lads there aged 40 or 50 who just want a bit of craic. 'It's a fast-growing sport. We're going five or six years now and when we started there were probably seven or eight MMA clubs in Dublin, and now there's nearer 50. We train every day and we're like a full-time club.' Mixed martial arts - or cage fighting as it is often tagged - has a fearsome reputation, but again Cowzer pointed out that, like boxing, anything untoward is quickly dealt with. 'It has a reputation as a violent sport, but MMA is very disciplined,' he said. 'There would not be any messing tolerated. The lads train hard, they're very respectful to each other and win or lose they shake hands at the end of a fight.' Rush Academy stage two shows of their own each year at the St Maurs GAA Club but have their own training facilities on the Whitestown Road, and details of the club's activities can be found at www.rushfightacademy.ie.