In total, nine SBG Ireland fighters will take to the cage at Dublin’s 3Arena tonight, September 10th, as part of BAMMA 26.
Two others were originally scheduled to compete as well but Chris Fields’ fight with BAMMA light-heavyweight champion Paul Craig was scrapped when the undefeated Scot was forced to withdraw through injury. That bout was replaced in the headline slot by John Phillips’ BAMMA middleweight title defence against Andy DeVent. However, that contest was also cancelled when SBG Concord’s Phillips failed to make weight.
Anyway, lets take a look at the SBG competitors that remain on the card.
Welterweight Peter Queally(8-2) is probably the most recognisable name on this list, as he is one of Conor McGregor’s main training partners and is a regular presence in the various media that comes out of ‘The Notorious’ one’s camp – Instagram/Twitter posts, The Mac Life video series and so on.
Solid work tonight at SBG! pic.twitter.com/kppvIxYD9u
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 22, 2016
Queally, who has won three fights in a row since a loss to Igeu Kabesa last year, was actually very close to making his UFC debut just a few weeks ago on the undercard of McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz, but visa issues prevented him from stepping in to replace the injured Sean Strickland opposite Tim Means.
What awaits ‘The Showstopper’ instead is a bout with the relatively inexperienced Joe McColgan, who is 1-0 as a professional, with two wins in the amateur ranks also listed at Tapology.
Queally is a heavy favourite here but with a UFC berth looking very likely in the near future, he has a lot to lose.
Shamsul Haque’s 7-8 record might not be all that aesthetically pleasing, but the Englishman has won his last two fights and has a wealth of experience, so he could prove a tricky opponent for novice pro Ryan Curtis.
However, having won all three of his fights in the paid ranks via KO/TKO inside the opening round, Curtis has the look of a real prospect.
The man they call ‘Chaos’, who trains under McGregor’s striking coach Owen Roddy at SBG Charlestown, has campaigned at bantamweight since turning professional, but for this fight he returns to flyweight, a division he regularly competed in as an amateur.
Ben Forsyth, who goes by the wonderful yet rather confusing moniker ‘Spyder Monkey’, came into the paid ranks with a great deal of momentum behind him after winning gold in the light-heavyweight bracket at the inaugural IMMAF European Open Championships in November of 2015.
He kept that momentum going with a first-round submission victory over Englishman Luke Taylor on his pro debut, which occurred at an ICE FC event on Merseyside in February, but he hasn’t fought since.
His opponent at BAMMA 26 is Pelu Adetola, who holds a record of 3-4 and is on a two-fight losing-streak. One of those losses came against hard-hitting RIZIN World Grand Prix contestant Brett McDermott, who is by far the most notable name on the record of ‘The Nigerian Diamond’.
Ward’s name will be familiar to most of you for unfortunate reasons.
In April he scored a third round TKO victory over Joao Carvalho as part of a Total Extreme Fighting event at Ireland’s National Boxing Stadium in Dublin. Shortly after the fight Carvalho slipped into a coma and roughly 48 hours later, he passed away.
It was an incident that caused a debate in Ireland about the safety of MMA, with some calling for the sport to be banned and others calling for it to be regulated. Neither has happened at this point, but the latter is looking more and more likely.
In the meantime however, safety standards at MMA events in the country have been reviewed and improved upon. A national governing body called the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association(IMMAA) was set-up, with SBG Ireland founder John Kavanagh as president. From the outset it pledged to ensure higher standards by acting as an advisor to the promoters of amateur MMA events and controlling pre-fight medicals.
On the professional side of things, BAMMA also took action.
This particular event was originally scheduled to take place in June but the organisation made the admirable decision to postpone it in order to introduce new, more stringent safety measures, such as mandatory MRI/MRA scans.
The results have impressed the aforementioned Kavanagh.
There is a strong argument made for Ireland now being the safest place in the world for MMA. Well done guys! https://t.co/9ujuNWQBY0
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) September 8, 2016
Ward has fought once since his tragic bout with Carvalho. In June he won a three-round decision over Welshman Gareth Williams in Swansea to move to 4-1 as a pro. That solitary loss on Ward’s ledger came in his debut, and it was to the aforementioned John Phillips, who at the time was a 22-fight veteran.
Tonight, Ward faces experienced Romanian Ion Pascu(14-6) in a catchweight contest. Pascu has won five of his last six bouts, but is looking to rebound from a decision defeat.
Smullen made his professional debut on the 30th of July, submitting Jay Moogan in the second round of a featherweight contest at Shinobi War 8, and he hasn’t been forced to endure a long wait for his second run out.
The 25-year-old is something of a submission specialist, as one glance at his amateur slate will illustrate. Of the six wins credited to him by Tapology, four ended via submission.
The man who will attempt to navigate the minefield that is Smullen’s ground game is Team Ryano’s Andrew Murphy, an experienced amateur making his first appearance as a professional.
Interestingly, Murphy, who competed at lightweight throughout his amateur days and was making his first foray into the featherweight division, tipped the scales at 145.8lbs – a couple of ounces under the 146-pound limit for non-title bouts – while longtime featherweight Smullen came in overweight at 147.4lbs.
Murphy has agreed to go ahead with the bout however.
Sinead Kavanagh singled herself out as one to watch with a tremendous performance at the IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas last year. She scored one of the most memorable finishes of the tournament in her semi-final bout, knocking out American Lindsey Lawrence in just 38 seconds, and went on to claim silver in the featherweight division.
The former national boxing champion turned pro just a couple of months later, dropping down to bantamweight to take on Hatice Ozyurt at BAMMA 22. She needed just 17 seconds to complete her task on that occasion.
Kavanagh had things a little tougher in her second outing however, as she was extended the distance by Zarah Fairn Dos Santos(3-1) at BAMMA 24. But she claimed a split decision win to move to 2-0.
Kavanagh’s opponent tonight is Katarzyna Sadura, a 25-year-old from Poland who also possesses a 2-0 record. She needed just 36 seconds combined to finish off her two previous opponents via KO/TKO.
Unfortunately, like Smullen and Phillips, Kavanagh failed to make weight, tipping the scales at 136.8lbs – .8lbs over the limit. Despite the hiccup, this fight will still go ahead.
O’Driscoll won both the Clan Wars and Ryoshin FC flyweight titles as an amateur, before turning professional at Cage Kings 3 in October of last year. At that event he scored a second round stoppage of Dylan Sheehan.
In his second fight, he stepped up to bantamweight to face Adam Caffrey, whom he had defeated in the amateurs, but dropped a unanimous decision after three rounds.
Tonight, O’Driscoll faces Next Generation MMA’s Mark Andrew. Like the SBG product, Andrew has a 1-1 record as a professional. He moved to 1-0 with a win over Sean Tobin at BAMMA 22 but he was demolished in just 51 seconds by O’Driscoll’s teammate and hot SBG prospect Dylan Tuke at BAMMA 24 earlier this year.
Dargan is a taekwondo black-belt who helped McGregor prepare for the striking style of Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59. As a professional, he has compiled a 1-3 record, while Tapology also credits him with one amateur victory.
Dargan was involved in a tragic incident earlier this year when, according to the Irish Independent, he hit a 57-year-old Dublin man named Paddy Mullally in the early hours of Saturday March 5th. Mullally, who had apparently attempted to quell an argument involving Dargan, subsequently died of the resultant head-injuries.
At BAMMA 26, the 41-year-old heavyweight faces Nothern Ireland’s Darragh Kennedy, who is 0-2 as a pro.
Fogarty is both an MMA photographer and fighter. Tonight, however, he will play the latter role, as he takes on Barry Hanna in BAMMA 26’s only amateur bout.
Fogarty has done very well competing internationally as an amateur, making the semi-finals of the IMMAF European Open Championships in Wolverhampton, England last year and picking up a silver medal at the IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas a couple of months ago. Last week, he was once again selected as part of the Republic of Ireland’s team for this year’s European competition, which takes place in Prague.
Fogarty’s bout with Hanna will be a flyweight contest.
You can catch all the action from BAMMA 26 through the promotion’s official YouTube channel. Or if you are in Dublin, tickets are available at the door of the 3Arena. The first fight is expected to take place at around 4.30 p.m.
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