Better late than never as Clarke wins pro fight
Mixed Martial Arts
Drogheda man Ciaran Clarke has been savouring the sweet taste of victory in his first professional MMA fight after stopping Northern Ireland's George Courtney in Dublin's 3Arena in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Scheduling issues meant that Clarke, who fights out of John Kavanagh's Straight Blast Gym in Dublin, stepped into the cage more than five hours later than planned, but the Yellowbatter native held his nerve and inflicted a first professional defeat on opponent George Courtney.
'I was exhausted but so happy to get the win and I feel great now,' said Ciaran, speaking on Sunday afternoon.
'He [Courtney] picked me off the ground and put my hand in the air. He's a nice fella, We get in there to punch each other in the race and then afterwards it's like nothing's happened.
'I did not get a glove landed on me, that's the truth, but people should see it for themselves and watch the fight on the Bellator app. Thank God I didn't let what happened get to me and it's just another experience, but the next time I sign a contract I'll make sure there's a time on it!
'It's tough when you don't know when you're fighting and you haven't eaten since you had your oats in the morning.'
Explaining the sequence of events that led to a long delay to his fight, Ciaran said: 'I was scheduled to be at 7pm just before the American televised card, but because the fights were taking so long they didn't have time to fit me in.
'They told me they'd fit me in after the American card, but then those fights went on longer than expected as well and I ended up walking into the cage at 12.05 at night.
'It was a disaster. Some people went home thinking my fight was cancelled, but I kept texting my girlfriend to say it was still on and when I walked out it felt like the whole of Drogheda was there which was all that mattered to me.
'With it being the last fight of the night they were actually able to come down to the cage-side and I could hear everything they were shouting.'
All three rounds followed a similar pattern, with the two fighters feeling each other out in a standing position before Clarke was able to take down his opponent and try to force a choke submission.
On the first couple of occasions George Courtney managed to fend off Clarke's advances, but in the third round Yellowbatter's finest finally secured victory by rear naked choke.
'At the end of the second round he'd said to me 'You're not going to get it, nobody gets me that way,' and I started laughing, but with three minutes to go I got the choke and he tapped out!' Ciaran recalled.
'They were 155 people packed on three Murrays coaches who were my sponsors, and I ended up missing the bus and we were standing outside at 12.45 in the morning. Me and my girlfriend had to take a taxi home which cost me €100.'
Speaking of money, Clarke said he was looking forward to 'pay day', eating some unhealthy food and also spending some time with his loved ones.
'I think I'm being paid within the week, I hope so anyway because I need the money to pay the insurance on my car!' he quipped.
'The matchmaker told me he's going to try and get me matched on the show at the Wembley Arena in London in November or February 2020 which will be back in the 3Arena.
'Now, though, I'm going to take a week off to let a few knocks and bruises heal. I didn't suffer any damage apart from self-inflicted ones from hitting him.
'I just want to spend some time with my girlfriend and family because I've sacrificed so much time getting ready for the fight. I also want to enjoy some food. Burger and chips is my favourite and I like anything sweet!'