Saturday 1 October 2016

'Dana White will know exactly who I am after July fight' - Undefeated Limerick fighter plans to take Vegas by storm

Published 22/04/2015 | 15:13

Catherine Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on the same weekend as the Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo fight in Las Vegas.
Catherine Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on the same weekend as the Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo fight in Las Vegas.
Catherine Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on the same weekend as the Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo fight in Las Vegas.

For the Irish MMA fans travelling to Las Vegas for Jose Aldo vs Conor McGregor on July 11th, things got a little more interesting.

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In early April, the all-female fight promotion Invicta Fighting Championships, announced it had signed undefeated Limerick lady Catherine Costigan.

Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on July 10th the night before UFC 189. As yet an opponent and a venue have not been announced for the InvictaFC 13 event, with the card to be headlined by the controversial Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino.

Lady’s Night

Invicta FC was founded in 2012 by Janet Martin and Shannon Knapp with the vision of showcasing Women’s MMA on a bigger stage. Some of the fighters who have gained notoriety with InvictaFC include Sarah McMann, Raquel Pennington, Shayna Basler, Carla Esparza and Jessica Penne to name but a few.

Aisling Daly also fought for the promotion back in 2012 losing to the current flyweight champion Barb Honchak.

After just six events and with WMMA’s popularity on the rise, it was announced the UFC would acquire InvictaFC’s entire 115lbs division. Rumours had been circulating that the UFC might buy the all-female promotion outright.

This has not transpired mainly as there is a rather comfortable working relationship. In exchange the option to ‘buy’ fighters’ contracts from InvictaFC, their events are now streamed on the UFC’s digital platform Fight Pass, opening up their content to millions of viewers around the world.

Enter the AlphaFemale

Catherine Costigan has been a familiar name on the Irish MMA scene for a number of years. Having made her pro debut in 2010 her career was almost immediately derailed by a spinal injury. After a misdiagnosis and years of just dealing with the pain an appointment for a hip operation finally uncovered the issue.

Catherine explained the injury wasn’t a single event rather an accumulation of wear and tear.

“It was down to training with bigger people and lifting big weights," she told Independent.ie. "I had pretty bad pain for about eight years. I went to a doctor at 24 but it was misdiagnosed. I was just told to spend more time on warming up.

Catherine Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on the same weekend as the Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo fight in Las Vegas.
Catherine Costigan will make her InvictaFC and US debut on the same weekend as the Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo fight in Las Vegas.

"Then I went to have hip surgery I mentioned it to them and the surgeon checked it out and found straight away that a disk was crushed so badly that it was pressing into my spinal cord. A severe blow to the area would have left me paralysed.”

Undeterred by the massive setback, Costigan was back in the cage in 2013.  Her Cage Warriors debut was soon to follow. By this stage Cage Warriors had spring-boarded a number of fighters, most notably double world champion Conor McGregor, onto bigger stages.

However, with a question mark over the future of Cage Warriors, Team AlphaFemale needed another stage.

“With Cage Warriors in limbo we were thinking what would be the next step, at the same time I was approached by Scott Davis of Sky High Worldwide agency," she explains.

"We negotiated with Cage Warriors and they released from contract without any hassle. Scott felt that InvictaFC is the next step, which of course makes total sense."

The Take Over Continues

Once news broke that Costigan had signed with InvictaFC, speculation started to mount as to whether she would play a part in the UFC’s international Fight Week in Las Vegas, which was hosting an InvictaFC event the night before UFC 189.

It was soon confirmed that she will indeed be making her debut at possibly the biggest InvictaFC event yet.

“I have a multi-fight deal so they can make me fight whenever they want. But it makes total business sense to have an Irish fighter on the July card. It’ll be like fighting in front of a home crowd. I think it’s going to be insanity in Las Vegas that weekend. And a great weekend for Irish MMA” gushed Catherine.

Having progressed her record to 5-0 the Limerick fighter is now looking for titles. While she believes she’s a contender she’s happy to plot a patient route towards the title.

‘We’re not here to take part…’

Discussing her new home, Costigan is forthright.

“I think I can go straight in to the top five and start causing hassle," she says.

"I’ve targeted Amber Brown because she’s #4 and I’m ready to take her on. She’s a perfect match up for me to showcase my skills. She (Brown) has been questioning the level of my opponents but I made those fights look easy because I train so hard. I feel I could fight the champ tomorrow and win but I have to take the correct steps and wait for InvictaFC to tell me who I’ve got.”

Always with an eye on the future Catherine believes her next fight will be the beginning of great things.

“I plan on being InvictaFC champ by 2016. I reckon it’ll take 2-3 fights but if someone drops out of a title fight I’ll step up.

"I also think atomweights would be a great addition to the UFC because we’re so fast and exciting. Dana lifted the whole InvictaFC straw-weight division so there’s nothing to say they wouldn’t do it for atomweight.

"Dana has been cageside events so you can be guaranteed if here’s there in July he’ll know who I am afterwards.”

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