'I’m Peter Queally and I’m a fu**ing savage' says Irish MMA fighter
Last weekend Norman Parke kicked off an incredible summer of action for Irish MMA. Leading the charge this week is SBGi man Pater ‘The Showstopper’ Queally.
Independent.ie caught up with Queally in South Africa as he prepares for EFC 40 this weekend in Carnival City, Johannesburg.
Peter is fighting Igeu ‘Smiley’ Kabesa who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kabesa is undefeated since his pro debut in 2013. Though the fight didn’t come through the usual matching process, preparation couldn’t have gone better for the Irishman.
Training out of SBGi in the Concorde Industrial Estate, Naas Road Queally regularly works out with UFC fighters Conor McGregor and Cathal Pendred. So much so, that Cathal asked Peter to join his training camp for UFC 188 in Mexico.
Though his fight at EFC 40 is taking place at lightweight (155lbs/70kgs), much of Queally’s career has been spent at welterweight (170lbs/77kgs), which is the weight Pendred competes at.
Before heading to Mexico, Peter was contacted by the EFC’s matchmaker Graeme Cartmell. Cartmell had, with no luck, been trying to find an opponent for Queally at welterweight. He eventually gave up but made one last appeal to Peter.
“I got a call from Graeme and he said, ‘I really want you on EFC 40 but I can’t get a welterweight fight would you consider dropping to lightweight’. I said 'fine, whatever,'" explains The Showstopper.
With the fight in the bag Peter jumped on a plane with Cathal and another team-mate Chris Fields. Once in Mexico they were joined by more SBGi team-mates Gunnar Nelson, Francisco Barrio, and Matt Inman from SBG Manchester.
One characteristic of nearly all the Irish fighters in the UFC is they’ve opted to remain training with the Irish MMA teams that brought them up. Though Pendred and McGregor have opted to train overseas for their fights they have each brought a team from SBGi with them.
Peter explained why Pendred opted to go out to Mexico early – “Cathal’s fight is in Mexico City, which is at about 2,200 metres altitude. So, Cathal wanted to get out in plenty of time to acclimatise to the thinner air. At the first UFC event in Mexico last year most fighters only came out for fight week and you could see them gassing out hard during the first round. We’re based at 2,700 metres.
I found it takes a while to get used to training in the thinner air, you feel like you’re having an asthma attack at the start. But we were all fine after a few weeks.”
For his fight this weekend Queally has opted to compete at lightweight for only the second time in his six professional contests to date.
The weight cutting process fighters endure is a mild form of starvation and temporary serious dehydration. Cutting a large amount of weight over a short period of time can mean you have a size advantage over your opponent on the night of the fight. However, the effects of weight cut can seriously impact your energy levels and thus back fire once you enter the cage a day later.
FC 40 Countdown: Kabesa vs Queally
Many fighters, like Queally, chose to forgo an arduous weight cut and fight close to their "walking around" weight.
“I’ve no problem making lightweight I just don’t like doing it," he says. "I’d rather train and walk around with a smile on my face and give up the bit of size in the fight.
"If I’m training and watching what I eat my weight drops to about 78kgs pretty easily. That’s where a lot of fighters start their cut to lightweight. So, it’s not a major cut for me but its hard and I used to prefer fighting welterweight and not have to worry about the cut."
With UFC level preparation in the bag Queally headed for South Africa. We spoke to him on Wednesday giving him about 40 hours till he hit the scales. He gave us a little update on how his weight cut was going – “I was on 75kg this morning so I’d expect that to be down to 74ish kilo’s by the morning so that’s a handy enough cut between Thursday and Friday morning.”
Queally is still unsure as to which weight category he will settle on. Regardless of what the scales say his goal is still the same; to follow his team-mates Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan, Gunni Nelson, Aisling Daly and of course Conor McGregor into the UFC.
With a win already in the EFC welterweight division, Queally knows he can be competitive at that weight. For the moment he’s content to explore lightweight and with regard to the future, he’s happy to wait and see.
“I’ll see what’s offered after this one but to be honest I’ll probably stay at lightweight. It feels easier this time (the weight cut), it doesn’t seem as bad as I remember," he said. "The environment in Mexico helped because everyone was eating so clean it was harder to stray from your diet. So, we’ll see.”
Looking forward to his fight Saturday, Peter is pretty confident. He has respect for his oponents ability but believes he won’t be at the same level.
“He can wrestle a bit. He throws hard shots but I can’t see him hitting me. I don’t think he’ll lay a hand on me. He can wrestle a bit but I’m incredibly hard to take down. So, I’m not worried about him taking the fight to the floor. I think I can knock him out or if it hits the ground I can see myself taking him out there as well” explained Queally.
Having competed with bigger men in the welterweight division, the Waterford man is looking forward to having a size advantage – “For the first time in a while I’m going to be the bigger man in the fight. I’m gonna have an inch in the height and I’ll have a few kilos on him come fight night. So I’m gonna maul this guy, I don’t really have plan I’m just gonna do what I do.”
You can watch Peter Queally battle Igeu Kabesa at EFC 40 via live stream available on the ESPN Player.