Why is SBG not up for honours at this evening’s RTÉ Sports Awards?
When the BBC announced their nominees for Sports Personality of the Year, there were some moans and groans about who was left out. A lot of the loudest complaints were from boxing fans, dismayed that Anthony Joshua wasn’t among the 16-strong shortlist.
Another boxer, Paddy Barnes put forward the case for his inclusion on the shortlist too, and there was a lot of noise from MMA fans at the exclusion of Michael Bisping.
UFC fans this side of the Irish Sea will be tweeting their complaints if Conor McGregor doesn’t win the RTÉ version of the prestigious award. I’m not here to make the case for McGregor but what about his team, SBG? I’m not advocating that they win the award, but should they be on the shortlist?
The Straight Blast Gym has been a big player in the story of the rise of McGregor. Add this to the other SBG fighters who have competed in the UFC – undoubtedly the pinnacle of the sport – and there is a case to be made.
While the other fighters in the gym aren’t at the same level as McGregor, the likes of Gunnar Nelson and Aisling Daly and well-know names who have competed on big cards.
There will be the obvious teams nominated for the award – the national rugby team who will probably win, the Republic of Ireland soccer team who reached the last 16 of the European championships, the hockey teams for their efforts in Rio as well as various Gaelic Game’s champions across the codes.
While I am not putting SBG above the achievements of any of the above, should their efforts, not at least be on a par with them? Without the Cork Ladies Football team or the Dublins men’s team, there would still be All Ireland champions. However, without SBG, there would likely be little to no world-class Mixed Martial Arts in this country. Is that worth anything?
Indeed, even last night the predominantly Dublin-based stable of fighters won big at a BAMMA/Bellator card in the 3 Arena.
5 great wins, 3 tough lessons. Proud of them all. Another amazing Irish crowd, wow! Time to pack and head to airport for Croatia ?
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) December 17, 2016
No matter what your attitude is to MMA, or to the UFC as an organisation, a team that has helped an Irishman win a world title is exactly the kind of thing the sports awards are meant to celebrate. A similar case can be made for John Kavanagh being nominated for manager of the year.
MMA may not be as big in this country as some angry social media users would want us to think, but just because they haven’t taken over, doesn’t mean they can’t take part.