Wicklow fighter comes out on top
Wicklow Martial Arts (WMA) has a new champion in its midst after Liam O'Brien won the IKF Senior Lightweight Irish Title in style last Sunday.
Traveling to fight his opponent on his home turf in Galway, O'Brien was considered a prohibitive underdog against Black Dragon's Cian 'The Ginga Ninja' McCormack, a fighter with a reputation as a spectacular knockout artist.
In spite of all of those odds the Wicklow Town man walked away with the belt after an immensely entertaining hard fought duel.
The opening round saw both fighters feel each other out in a series of relatively even exchanges but O'Brien quickly established control of the centre of the ring behind some clever footwork and effective use of knees to the body of his opponent.
Round two saw the Wicklow man catch McCormack with a right cross as he began trading on his own terms, mixing up his attack and landing another punishing one-two combination as the round progressed.
Sensing the fight slipping away, McCormack showed his championship calibre in the next round as he attempted a series of showy kicks that were only deterred by O'Brien's resolute defence and awareness.
An impressive spinning backfist by the Galwegian similarly struck leather as the WMA man seemed invigorated by the heightened intensity of the battle, finishing the round with a series of powerful leg kicks that drained his opponent's resolve.
To his credit, McCormack refused to be bowed but his single shots in the fourth round were no match for O'Brien's crisp combinations and smothering, peek-a-boo style defence as the latter forced continued to march forward and force the action.
Round five saw the champion fire off another dramatic spinning heel kick but, once again, it bounced harmlessly off his opponent's guard as the Wicklow Town man finished out the fight as he had started it, stalking his increasingly frustrated opponent across the ring while peppering him with an impressively varied attack.
In the end, it was O'Brien who had his hand raised at the final bell and now stands to make a piece of local history at Wicklow Martial Arts Showdown 6 at the Grand Hotel on Saturday, October 7.
Having won the IKF belt in Galway, the Wicklow man will get the opportunity to become the club's first undisputed national champion if he manages to beat the current holder of the ISKA belt, Drogheda's Mathew 'The Lightening' Whyte.
Showdown 6 will also feature a plethora of local and national fighters as names such as Michael John Devlin, Alan Glynn, Josh Graham, Paul White and Kieran Stapleton are slated to appear on the bill, with the latter accruing a hugely impressive professional record of 5-1 over the past twelve months.
Stapleton will headline the event as he takes on another County Wicklow man, Ivo Clinch, whose reputation for toughness is known throughout the country.
Tickets for the hugely popular annual event are on sale at the club for €20 or on the door on the night, though the event has sold out in the past so those interested in attending are advised to arrive early.