Damien Darker: “I can see another highlight reel KO coming”

Damien Darker: “I can see another highlight reel KO coming”

Damien Darker (Elite Martial Arts) will face Chris Meaney (Newry MT) in the Cage Legacy Kickboxing 2 main event on June 17th.

But, it’s been a frustrating six months for the Dubliner in the build up to his first competitive K-1 fight of 2017.

Winning the Cage Ring Championship (CRC) title in December had set him up perfectly to begin the new year on a good run of form and put together a winning streak.

He’d been due to fight twice in the first three months but several opponents pulled-out and his fights fell through. Promoters struggled to match him and his expected progress ground to a halt.

“It’s been very frustrating because I thought that was one of my best performances at the CRC show. I think it was my most complete performance since turning pro. I wasn’t loading up on my shots or looking for anything and showed what I’d been learning through all my fights. I think it was down to the level of opponent too. The guy was unbeaten before he came over and he wasn’t just there to make up the numbers.

“I think the nerves I had of knowing how good Daniel Kolasinski was made me perform even better. I have underestimated opponents in the past and slipped up. But, I have learnt from all my past fights. If I was to grade myself on that fight, I’d say it was my best performance on a whole. I was just ready to rock into the new year after it and I wanted to be in double figures; have ten plus fights by the end of this year. I haven’t even had one yet,” he said.

His CRC victory came just weeks after a crushing defeat to Colm Neill on Warrior FC IV last October. Darker admits that the experience taught him several valuable lessons.

“I learnt the hard way. I learnt through the O’Neill fight big time; a lot of lessons. I know it sounds weird but I deserved that loss. I was already looking past him. I was looking well beyond that fight. I was thinking, ‘this is great, I’ll just get another highlight reel KO and I’ll be on my way’. I thought I’d be on GLORY and Bellator.

“I thought I’d be on my way once I got through that. It was a huge setback but I took a lot of positives from it. I knew what I had done wrong straightaway watching the tape back. I couldn’t wait to improve on it and then when the CRC fight came, it was perfect.”

The six month wait to step back into action has been frustrating but Darker is adamant that the break won’t impact his next performance.

“It was the same after the McKibbin knockout. It didn’t feel like that due to all the publicity the KO got but it was six months before I got back in the ring. I was rusty and I wasn’t myself. I slipped up big time. I’m making sure that doesn’t happen this time.”

Cage Legacy had earmarked him for their inaugural kickboxing show but after their initial efforts failed they were determined to secure his name for their sophomore event.

Darker will face heavy-hitting Chris Meaney (Newry MT) in the main event at Cage Legacy Kickboxing 2 on 17th June.

But, he had been scheduled to face Derry Guinan (SBGi) originally, until he was forced to withdraw from the bout.

“I was due to fight on the last Cage Legacy too but they couldn’t get an opponent. They wanted to get me on this Cage Legacy so that’s why I got an opponent so soon. I wasn’t expecting Derry to pull-out because he would fight anyone and has always committed to his fights. I got a text two weeks ago to say that he’d pulled out and I just thought ‘here we go again’. But, then they got me Chris Meaney.”

The challenge of Meaney excites Darker and he feels like his style will suit him much better than Guinan’s potentially would have.

“I was looking at his last fight… it was a complete mismatch. I think his style will suit me a lot better than Guinan. Guinan’s style would have frustrated me. Chris is going to come forward. People have said that he hits real hard but I’m not going to believe the hype until he hits me. I believe that I have a really tight guard so let him try and hit me.

“He seems to have a nice relaxed style. I saw in his last fight that he was smiling at his opponent trying to get inside his head. But, I’ve dealt with that style. My last opponent was the same on CRC. Obviously, Chris is going to be a lot bigger and stronger but he’ll have a big weight cut on his hands.”

Darker continued by drawing attention to the weight cut which faces Meaney and hoped that he could make the weight.

“His fight on Thai Wars was at 85 kg so I hope he took that at short notice. If that’s him fit at 85, he’ll be on deaths door when he comes down to 81.4, then he’ll have to go three rounds with me. I just hope he can make the weight. I do not want to get two days out from the fight and have him not make weight. He better make the weight, that’s all I care about.”

Should he make the weight, Darker expects to break Meaney down after the first-round and predicted a late stoppage.

“He just seemed to overpower his last opponent…who looked like a nervous wreck. I can see him coming out guns blazing, trying to land a few shots but then he’ll realise that I have a much tighter guard that he expected.

“I can see myself begin to break him down as the fight goes on and it could end in a late stoppage. Either through leg kicks or I see a knockout. He carries that right hand very low. Once I immobilize him with a few legs kicks I can see another highlight reel KO coming.”

Darker expects to remain busy after his fight with Meaney next month. He plans to defend his CRC belt two weeks after Cage Legacy before setting himself up for a ‘big’ second half of 2017.

“I think once I have ten plus fights on my CV I think I can be knocking on bigger stages. I believe that I have the talent to be doing so. I just need to get the experience and get more of those highlight reel moments to catch people’s attention and get my name out there. I want big international fights before December.”

He also ruled out the possibility of challenging Dawid Blaszke for the ISKA title.

“I know it sounds silly but the ISKA belt means nothing to me. I had lots of belts in kickboxing so the novelty of it means nothing to me now. It’s about the money and bigger shows. I would class Dawid Blaske as a pal and sparring partner. II don’t believe I need that belt to go any further. Dawid deserves it, he’s been on such a good streak. There’s no point either of us being a road block in each other’s way at national level,” he said.

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Exclusive InterviewMuay Thai / K-1
Alastair Magee

Recent Journalism graduate with a passion for covering martial arts. Giving amateur and professional fighters in Ireland the coverage they deserve.

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