With a fairly bare weekend for mixed martial arts, Shane Saunders switches his focus to the rise of Irish MMA in such a short space of time.
It’s hard to argue that Conor McGregor has not single-handedly dragged MMA from a seemingly underground sport to a towering pedestal for all to see. Well, in this part of the world anyway. A sold out o2 Arena (or is it 3Arena now?) back in July and a staggering viewership figure on terrestial television are hard to argue against.
While the UFC may be the biggest organisation in MMA today, the influx of Irish fighters to the roster including Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred and TUF contestant Aisling Daly have revitalised the sport and new followers to the sport and the organisation have been of huge significant monetary value to the UFC.
From seemingly leaving Ireland out in the cold for five years since they last returned prior the the July 19th event, there is now talk of a potential stadium event because the demand for the sport and in particular one Mr. McGregor have increased ten fold.
While the UFC are feeling the benefit of new consumers, local MMA events are also feeling the surge of popularity with a recent sold out Cage Warriors event in August testament to this argument. Gyms are also feeling the buzz with facilities such as SBG and Ryano/BJJ gaining new memberships.
This newfound sense of belief that relative unknowns can become the cream of the crop for the whole world to see in such a short matter of time is a wonderful thing.
Various media interviews with Irish fighters flying the flag have instilled a sense of pride and there is a “well, if I can do it, you can do it” mentality in fighters and fans alike that has really captured the imagination.
MMA in this country has never seen so much mainstream media attention for all the right reasons. Mixed martial arts has gone from a sport that people were quick to lambaste, but it has now become a sport that deserves attention.
With McGregor, Pendred, Holohan and Daly leading the charge, the future is extremely bright for Irish MMA.
Shane Saunders, Pundit Arena.