Samson Martial Arts Ireland: “We want to make the next UFC champion!”

Samson Martial Arts Ireland: “We want to make the next UFC champion!”

Samson Martial Arts, located in Cork City, has undergone some radical changes in the past few years. Kieran O’Brien, an MMA fighter himself, his father and Dylan Sheehan took over control of the gym and they’ve developed it into one of the best MMA gym’s in the country. The gym caters for every age group and they’ve embedded a strong family atmosphere which resonates with everyone who walks through the doors. The owners are determined to produce the best fighters with the ultimate goal of getting a fighter into the UFC.

“Samson is a mixed martial arts club which is run by myself, my father and Dylan Sheehan who’s our MMA coach. It’s a family run gym and the four main disciplines which we teach are, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Muay Thai and MMA. We also do a lot of combat conditioning and children’s classes. We have our stand-up sport which is the Thai boxing, the ground game which is BJJ and then we have a wrestling and MMA coach who brings it all together. We’re trying to build the best MMA fighters instead of a traditional gym who might focus on one martial art. We want to make the next UFC champion; someone like Conor McGregor. By supplying the stand-up sport and the ground work sport it helps put everything together a lot easier for people. If they jump into an MMA class they’ll have the background in both disciplines,” said co-owner Kieran O’Brien.

Kieran said that the gym has ‘a good vibe and all egos are left at the door’. He is a proud coach and was full of praise for the fighters they have produced. He said, “Anytime we get in and perform in the cage or the ring we show that our gym is doing something right. I think it comes down to the strong bond that we have here. Everyone pushes each other to better and turn up for the sessions. They’re all working really well together and everyone’s on the same level. I think the mind frame which we have separates us from a lot of other gyms.”

If you are from Cork and are undecided on whether to join the gym then Kieran makes a great argument.

“I’d say go straight for it! It’s probably the best thing you can do with your life. Martial arts have taught me a lot more than how to defend myself. It taught me to be disciplined in life and helped me to make decisions that I never could have imagined. It gives you a great state of mind and keeps you controlled. Just like you learn how to read and write in school I think that everyone should learn how to defend themselves and be safe. Martial arts gives you that platform and once you have that at least you’ll know how to be safe even if you don’t want to be a fighter.”

Due to injuries he has been unable to fight himself so O’Brien has poured all his energy into coaching. He admitted that he was always able to balance both fighting and coaching but now he’s ‘lucky to have my two co-owners helping me with the gym’.

“Now that I’ve been coaching full time I love putting my energy into the lads and seeing their progression. The performances that they’ve shown keeps the fire in my belly lit. If I was sitting at home and I wasn’t able to train or compete then I’d feel a big void in my life but the coaching fills that for me. I’m constantly getting better as a coach and as a fighter. When I’m learning new things and teaching my classes I know it’s all going to pay off when I get back to fighting.”

Samson Martial Arts are producing a number of top prospects with the most notable being Darren O’Gorman who was signed by BAMMA. But there are also some young stars which Kieran was keen to bring our attention too.

“A couple of new stars that you mightn’t have heard of would be Jared Fitzgerald and Nicholas Llewellyn. Jared started a couple of years ago doing Thai boxing and my father coached him in BJJ. He’s made the transition into MMA over the past few months and he picked up three great wins over the weekend at the Team Ryano Amateur MMA competition. He’ll be one to keep your eye on for the next year. Nicholas had a great knockout victory over an SBG opponent at Battlezone 14 a couple of weeks ago. He’s a quiet lad and he came up against a cocky opponent with his hands down. Nicholas was a little bit intimidated and he got hit with a few shots but then he threw a lovely overhand punch which knocked him out. It shows that he has the heart and great skills, and he’ll have a bright future.”

In Muay Thai there is one name which has stood out amongst the fighters from Samson Martial Arts. Ben Clinch has quickly become one of Samson’s ‘brightest prospects’. On the 20th February he faces Daryl Flood (Warriors) at the Siam Warriors Muay Thai Superfight show. Both fighters are seen as the best young Thai boxers in Ireland.

Kieran said, “Ben and Daryl Flood are two of the best young fighters in Ireland. To be honest I’d pay money myself if I wasn’t one of their coaches to go and see this fight. I know both of them personally and I’ve been watching their styles develop and grow the last few years. Stylistically it’s a fantastic match up for the crowd and each other because I know that both fighters will want to be top dog. They’ll bring out the best of each other on the night. I obviously have confidence in my lad but it’ll be a very tough test against Daryl. I’m really looking forward to the fight.”

Finally for any young fighters new to the sport Kieran passed on some valuable advice. “I would tell young fighters to be like a sponge. Be open to everything and never close a door into any of the areas. Look up to the older fighters, look at their styles, see what they’re doing right or wrong and practice what they’re doing right. Dive straight into it and try everything. Don’t be afraid or anxious about anything. Enjoy every minute of it because with this sport you only get a small window of opportunity to capitalise,” he said.

Samson Martial Arts on Facebook.

Image Source: The Samson Martial Arts Logo was taken from the Gym Facebook page.

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An insight into Ireland's gyms
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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