Irish Fighters vying for a place at UFC Belfast: Fightstore Media takes a closer look
UFC Belfast offers a golden opportunity for some of Ireland’s best young fighters to appear on the biggest stage in MMA.
At one point nine Irish fighters were on the UFC’s roster but that number has now diminished to just five.
With the UFC lacking any fighters based in Northern Ireland following the release of Norman Parke, it may see them look towards new recruits as they appeal to the local fan base.
A number of fighters across Ireland are on the cusp of the UFC but have they done enough to warrant a contract?
Last weekend BAMMA 26 gave many of these fighters a platform to display their pedigree and improve their chances of getting the call before November 19th.
Many have expressed their desire and availability to the UFC but what are their chances of getting the call?
Fightstore Media takes a closer look at the combatants most likely to be called upon should the UFC require them.
Sinead ‘KO’ Kavanagh (3-0)
Sinead Kavanagh added another impressive TKO to her resume at BAMMA 26 when she defeated Kataryzna Sadura in the first round of their bout. The five time senior national boxing champion has immense striking power and precision inside the octagon and seems to grow stronger as a fighter every time she steps inside the octagon. Working with Coach Kavanagh has been very beneficial, making her a durable fighter who’s not afraid to stand and trade with opponents.
The UFC’s women’s bantamweight title switched hands four times in the space of a year with Brazil’s Amanda Nunes the current occupant. Kavanagh stated that she would take on anyone in the UFC and with the Irish support behind her it would be a great signing for the UFC. She’s an exciting fighter to watch and may prove to be a big draw as a dark horse in the women’s division. ‘KO’ is destined for a larger organisation and it may happen sooner rather than later.
— sinead kavanagh (@sineadkavanagh0) September 11, 2016
Rhys ‘Skeletor’ McKee (4-0)
Northern Ireland’s own Rhys McKee celebrated his 21st birthday with a 58 second TKO victory over Tommy McCafferty. ‘Skeletor’ has steadily developed into one of the hottest prospects in Ireland with three of his four victories coming via stoppage since turning pro. A likeable, disciplined attitude and a mature outlook to fighting warranted his success in the octagon. McKee is still developing as a fighter but showcases a confidence and hunger which the UFC would love.
With other young fighters like Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall getting their chance, there’s every possibility that Dana White might look for the next big thing in Europe. Rhys is enjoying great success under Rodney Moore at Next Gen. His striking and prowess in the cage have improved and make him a very popular fighter to watch.
— Rhys McKee (@RhysMcKee) September 10, 2016
Alan ‘The Apprentice’ Philpott (16-8)
Alan Philpott needs no introduction to Irish fans, the current BAMMA Lonsdale Bantamweight title holder has been one of the top bantamweights in the UK and Ireland over the past few years. He easily defeated Aaron Blackwell at BAMMA 26 to defend his title and wasted no time calling out champion Tom ‘Fire kid’ Duquesnoy for a unification bout. If BAMMA offer him the chance to fight Duquesnoy it would allow him an opportunity to prove himself against the best in Europe before signing for a bigger promotion.
Not afraid to confront opponents, he would add some excitement to the Belfast card should he get signed. ‘The Apprentice’ went 8-3 since 2013, successfully defended his belt and added an impressive TKO over Nathaniel Wood at BAMMA 24. The local fighter is a proud Northern Irishman and would generate a lot of support in Belfast given the loyal fans always at events. His name will be high on the list of possible recruits.
Waiting patiently on a bout agreement coming my way.
Im excited to see what’s next for me
— Alan Philpott (@AlanPhilpottMMA) September 14, 2016
Ryan ‘Chaos’ Curtis (3-0)
An outside bet but it would be a hugely popular choice in Ireland. Ryan Curtis lifted the roof of the 3 Arena at BAMMA 26 with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Shamsul Haque. The Flyweight is marked as one to watch and with the current situation in the UFC flyweight division they are in need of new faces who can mix it with the best.
Owen Roddy developed Ryan’s striking and made him into an all-round fighter who looks sharp inside the octagon. It may come too soon this time but the UFC is not out of his reach, the next year is huge for ‘Chaos’ and his name should become very well known throughout Europe if he continues his rich vein of form.
Just when you think your safe I gut the body. 🔪🔪☠ pic.twitter.com/eJyW2P6m9P
— Ryan Curtis (@ChaosCurtis) September 15, 2016
Peter ‘The Showstopper’ Queally (8-3)
Before BAMMA 26 you’d have said that Peter Queally was guaranteed to be signed by the UFC. While helping Conor McGregor prepare for UFC 202 in Vegas, he offered to fight Tim Means (25-7-1) after his opponent Sean Strickland withdrew through injury. The Welterweight admitted afterwards that visa issues prevented the fight happening. Queally went back to work for his fight with Joe McColgan (2-0) but a below-par performance last Saturday resulted in a shocking defeat.
‘The Showstopper’ was left with a lot of questions to answer and it’s unclear whether he’ll make an appearance at UFC Belfast. He moved quickly to secure a fight against Eldar Eldarov (6-1) at Brave CF 1 on September 23rd. Were he to impress in that fight then the door may still be open to him.
Joe ‘The SBG Hunter’ McColgan (3-0)
McColgan’s been around a while, his record may not speak volumes but after taking a break from fighting to concentrate on work, he has returned in devastating fashion. Against Queally he employed a smart game plan and avoided being taken to the ground. He out-punched the SBG fighter and controlled the fight.
Afterwards he campaigned to take Queally’s place in the UFC and it’s hard to argue against him. Another Northern Irish fighter who would generate a lot of attention and excitement, McColgan’s name looks set to be in the mix.
— Joe McColgan MMA (@JoeMcColgan_) September 10, 2016
UFC Belfast – Live from The SSE Arena on November 19.