Friday 23 June 2017

Three Irish wins from five on successful night at UFC Dublin Fight Night 76

Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

UFC Dublin proved you can never judge a fight card until it’s over. Despite losing the main and co-main event fights the event was a resounding success. Every fight had something to it and the action was superb for the first to the last.

Fans and media alike moaned about the loss of all the big names but the Fighting Irish were ably supported by an excellent international cast to provide value for those who paid the entrance fee.

The Fighting Irish had a good night, all in all. Three wins from five contests with Paddy Holohan and Loius Smolka serving up somewhat of a classic in the main event.

Cathal Pendred was first up for the Fighting Irish and well beaten.  The victor, Tom Breese, is a name to remember and will hand out similar beatings to more welterweights as he climbs up the division. He used his reach and size advantage well, cutting Pendred early and dominating the entire fight.

Cathal Pendred during his fight with Tom Breese. UFC Fight Night. 3Arena, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Cathal Pendred during his fight with Tom Breese. UFC Fight Night. 3Arena, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Aisling Daly steadied the ship with a fantastic performance against very impressive Erica Almeida. The Brazilian was on her UFC debut but it seemed nothing was going to get in the way of Aisling getting her hand raised. In a long and storied career this may be the best version of Daly we’ve seen. She was full of energy for all fifteen minutes and seemed to be wise to all Almeida’s submission attempts.

Neil Seery followed on doing what Neil Seery always does – walking forward with his hands up and his chin down. Jon Delos Reyes was willing to stand and trade to a point.

Seery spotted an opening as Delos Reyes started to look for takedowns. Delos Reyes kept entering the takedown with his head too high. Seery kept chancing a guillotine choke on the way down to the mat. He finally sunk one deep to get the submission win late in the second.

Despite playing the berserker role very well, Reza Madadi barely took a forward step in the whole fight. Antrim fighter Norman Parke kept the pressure on but needed all three rounds to take a decision over the volatile Swedish-Iranian. All the bad blood that threatened to boil over at the weigh in was squashed as both men show great respect for each other’s efforts in the Octagon.

In the main event Tallaght man Paddy Holohan served up some of the best action you could ask for as an MMA fan. Though he tapped out to Louis Smolka’s rear naked choke he can take pride from the fact that he was involved in a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.

Louis Smolka has now beaten Holohan and Seery and won’t look out of place in the UFC’s flyweight top ten.

The international cast played their part too. South African Gareth McLellan set a high bar for the rest of the fighters with an impressive TKO win in the third. His fight with American Bubba Bush got the crowd invested early.

Scottish fighters Stevie Ray and Rob Whiteford were well supported with pockets of St Andrew’s flag wavers dotted around the 3Arena. Ray continued his rise with his third win while Whiteford dropped a decision to the highest ranked fighter on the card, American Darren Elkins.

Danish fighter Nicholas Dalby proved it's not over until it's over. Clearly down two rounds down the Dane battled back to eek out a (majority 29-28, 28-28, 28-28) draw against a really impressive Darren Till. It transpired Till picked up an arm injury in the third. It shows how tough he is the he preferred to battle on rather than give up.

All in all a great night for all concerned. We’ll wait to see when the UFC announces the next Irish date. A certain results at UFC 194 in December may dictate whether it’s in the 3Arena or Croke Park.

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