Roscommon’s Danni Neilan fell just short of world championship glory at the Khalifa Sports City Arena in Manama, Bahrain on Saturday, as she dropped a unanimous decision to Brazilian fighter Michele Oliveira in the women’s flyweight final of the IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA.
Neilan, whose inspirational journey from fan to world finalist was revealed by SBG Ireland founder and head coach John Kavanagh in the hours leading up to the fight, will thus have to settle for a silver medal.
Neilan did well to survive the opening round of the bout, in which Oliveira thoroughly dominated. The fighters ended up on the floor within seconds of the start and Oliveira quickly took the Irishwoman’s back. Neilan was forced to defend the rear-naked choke for much of the remainder of the round, as Oliveira peppered her with light but undoubtedly painful punches in an attempt to open her up for the submission. Towards the end of the stanza, Oliveira moved to full mount and rained down some far more forceful shots on an already cut Neilan.
In the second, Neilan rebounded admirably, pushing Oliveira against the cage and working strikes from the clinch. The Brazilian mustered little in the way of her own offence and it seemed like a clear Neilan round.
Oliveira showed her own resilience, however, to take an entertaining third stanza. Neilan once again found herself mounted and under fire early on, but she kept moving and fighting. Oliveira switched to the back in the latter stages and began to work for the choke, but Neilan stood up and brilliantly turned into her foe’s guard. From there Neilan ascended to her feet once again and threw some heavy shots as Oliveira remained on the canvas. In the final seconds, Oliveira executed a nice sweep to bring Neilan back to the floor and that’s how the fight ended.
??Michele Oliveira def. ??Danni Neilan via unanimous decision to win the female @immafed world flyweight title!
— IMMAA (@IMMAAOnline) November 18, 2017
In September, following a win over Beckie Ainscough at a Cage Warriors Academy event in Liverpool, Neilan told MMA Thread that she fully intends to make the switch to the paid ranks at some point. She did add, however, that she planned to stay amateur for another 12 months after the IMMAF Worlds and to compete regularly. After her performance over the last week, which saw her earn three wins en route to the final, Neilan will garner plenty of attention when she does decide to go pro.