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Exclusive: Aisling Daly on UFC Dublin, Paige VanZant, Conor McGregor and More

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Fresh from her emotional victory at the recent UFC Fight Night 76 in her home town of Dublin, Ireland, Aisling “Ais the Bash” Daly has, like her Irish compatriots did at last year’s UFC event in Dublin, become a household name. That is not to say she was not widely known in Ireland already – she was – but that win opened a lot of eyes that were not previously aware of what Daly is capable of.

In all honesty it was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life,” Daly told MMA Latest News. “I was warned in advance just how great the crowd would be but in honesty I had no idea it would be like it was. My Coach John Kavanagh said to me ‘take a few seconds to acknowledge the crowd and take it all in then we’re back focused and going to work’ and that’s exactly what I done. Watching the walk out back I felt like I was watching someone else make that walk. It was all crazy and emotional.

The atmosphere on the night itself was electric, but even in the build-up to the event, Dublin was buzzing. The event was advertised all across the city capped by a montage at the arrivals terminal in Dublin airport bearing images of the country’s MMA heroes, Daly being one of them. “Seeing all he billboards etc. around town was again a surreal experience,” Daly reminisced. “It really rammed home to me just exactly how far the sport has come as a whole in Ireland. Most importantly it made me so proud to see how far I had come and how much I have achieved since I started my career. It’s all gone so much better than I could even imagine.

Her performance in Dublin was arguably the best Daly has looked in the UFC and much of that was put down to the work she did on her weight cut with Lindsey Doyle. “Lindsey worked with me mainly as a nutritionist for this camp,” Daly explained. “She streamlined my nutrition for the last 3 weeks ensuring the smoothest cut to 115lbs I have ever had. Simon McEvoy of King of Kings PT worked mostly on my Strength & Conditioning with John Connor of the Irish Strength Institute. Going forward though Lindsey will be involved in all aspects of my training, nutrition, strength & conditioning and also as a team mate and MMA sparring partner.

Going forward, with positive changes to her fight preparation regime planned, the future looks bright for #15 ranked strawweight Daly, but she has no preferences on who her next opponent will be. “In honesty I never really have anyone in mind that I would like to fight,” she stated. “Since perfecting the cut I would definitely like to avenge some past losses but I’m not sure if the UFC operate like that. I will never shy away from a fight or a challenge so whoever the UFC feel is best next for me I am ok with. I obviously want to climb the ladder so hopefully someone ranked.” However, when asked would the UFC’s return to London interest her, Daly responded positively. “I have already asked the UFC if my next fight can be on this card. It would be ideal for me on so many levels. A short hop for my friends, family & fans. No demanding time zone changes or adverse weather conditions. It would be perfect.

Daly’s route into the UFC was via The Ultimate Fighter, which caused her to miss the UFC’s event in Dublin that year. The experiences fighters have on TUF vary, but, for Daly, hers was not an enjoyable one. “TUF was one of the most difficult experiences of my life,” she told me. “It really broke me down as a person both physically & mentally. It took me a long time to recover from the experience. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t do again although I appreciate the lessons I learned from it and the extra mental strength I have developed.

One fighter currently doing well in the strawweight division who did not have to go through TUF is Paige VanZant. The Team Alpha Male fighter has posted a 3 – 0 record thus far in the UFC, so what has Daly made of her rise? “I think she is very young in the sport and that shows in her performances,” she stated. “She’s not very polished, she’s sloppy and lacks finesse. She’s been built up by the UFC based on her All American girl look, which is fine by me – I don’t care how you market yourself.  Each to their own. She will have to face top level competition soon and all the questions of her will be answered one way or another.

Even though it is over a month away, UFC 194 is all the talk at the moment, especially in Daly’s home country of Ireland as her team mate Conor McGregor headlines the event in the long-awaited bout against Jose Aldo. Las Vegas will brace itself for another Irish invasion as fans will flock to the fight capital of the world in their thousands again. Daly will not be one of them, but she has every confidence in McGregor, saying “I will be watching from home. Vegas is an expensive trip so I just couldn’t afford it. I have endless confidence in Conor and I know he will deliver another stellar performance on the night.

Much has been said over the past couple of years in MMA about the Irish fans’ fanatical support of their countrymen and women. While the MMA world is relatively new to that phenomenon, it has been evident in other sports for many years and it is certainly something that Daly has felt. “I would like to thank each and every fan for their constant support and encouragement,” she gushed. “I have received so much positivity and I can’t say how much that means to me. I would also like to thank my sponsors The Pure Kitchen for looking after my meals & My Protein for my supplements.

With her new training regime, smoother weight cuts and the support of the Irish public behind her, 2016 could be a great year for Aisling Daly.

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Bellator

Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.

Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.

‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”

Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.

Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?

Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.

Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?

Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.

There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.

Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?

I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.

Credit – michaelpagemvp – Instagram

Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?

The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.

Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?

Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.

You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.

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BAMMA

Exclusive: Alex Lohore “Didn’t Know” Who Richard Kiely Was Before BAMMA 32 Booking

Harry Davies

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We spoke to the recently crowned BAMMA welterweight champion Alex Lohore, as he prepares to defend his title against Richard Kiely at BAMMA 32 in Dublin.

Lohore (13-1) won the vacant BAMMA welterweight title last month at BAMMA 31 in London. Fighting his longtime rival Nathan Jones on the night, Lohore knocked out “Mr Bag & Tag” with a knee in the first round.

Q: Obviously the rivalry between you and Jones had been going on for years, but you finished it in brutal fashion. Did you to speak to him after the fight?

Yeah I did have a chat with him. I was telling him that it was a great fight and we should train together sometime, but he was he wasn’t really keen on it. I guess he was still a bit sore about the defeat.

Q: In the cage after your win, you called out Richard Kiely, now you’re fighting him. Are you happy you got the opponent you asked for?

Everyone keeps saying I called him out, I didn’t call him out, he called me out! I didn’t even address his name, I said ‘this Irish kid has been running his mouth we’re going to go out there and shut him up.’ I didn’t even know who he was. He’s been mentioning my name and talking a lot of rubbish on my social media disturbing me and my fans.

Q: The finish against Jones was picture perfect. From the elbow, to the right hand, to the knee, was it the best of your career?

Yeah I think it is, by far! It was perfect technique. I knew as he was going he back he would try to duck in for the takedown. Because I was throwing the head kick anyway all I needed to do was just switch it to a knee. I couldn’t ask for any better.

Q: Given it’s in Dublin and Richard is Irish, How do you feel about going into enemy territory at BAMMA 32?

That’s great, that’s why I’m doing it! I need to be comfortable in every environment, so going out there will test. I wanted to be on the Dublin card, now I can teach him a little lesson too, I can’t wait.

Q: As you know the Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers has brought a lot of attention to BAMMA recently, what are your thoughts on him? 

He’s good man. For someone who doesn’t come from a fighting background and does reality TV stuff, he’s doing good. How can people say he should fight someone more experienced, because he is taking  guys that are on his level and he’s doing good.

He’s helping MMA fighters because he has got a big following so more people are going to be watching MMA and learning about MMA so it’s a good thing having him on board.

BAMMA32 will take place at the 3Arena in Dublin on November 10th. Tickets are now on sale at ticketmaster.ie. The card will air live on both UNILAD’s Facebook page, and Dave.

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Bellator

Exclusive: Andrey Koreshkov eyeing fight with Rory MacDonald

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Former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov is coming off of an interesting past two years. In 2015 he beat current welterweight champion Douglas Lima, via a dominant unanimous decision, in order to win the welterweight title. He returned in 2016 and beat former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson via another dominant beatdown. It seemed like Koreshkov was going to be the champion for a very long time, making elite fighters look like they had no business being in the cage with him.

Koreshkov’s world came crashing down one night in Isreal. The Russian was beating Douglas Lima in a rematch, he was up 20-18 on the score-cards, and it seemed like he was going to walk away with another successful title defense. Koreshkov forced Lima’s back against the fence and started winging punches at him, Lima started to do the same as he looked to get off the fence, and then it happened, a huge left hook caught Koreshkov on the chin and it was lights-out. Lima was once again champion, and Koreshkov’s reign was cut short.

What was next for Koreshkov after losing the title? Perhaps a move to middleweight? Bellator’s middleweight division has fewer contenders than the welterweight division and could promise a quicker path to the title for the Russian. Koreshkov is a big welterweight, standing at 6’1, he certainly wouldn’t be small in the higher weight class. Speaking to MMA Latest, Koreshkov was quick to shut down the idea of moving up. “No, no, I work hard at welterweight and I’d like to stay there.”

Sticking with welterweight, Koreshkov knew it was going to be tough to get another title shot after his fight with Chidi Njokuani, but he seems to know the key to fighting for the title “It’s not about how many wins, but rather, the quality of my wins”, with that in mind, he promised the gameplan against Njokuani was to “stand and bang”. Koreshkov fulfilled his promise, against Njokuani he came out guns-blazing, giving Njokuani all he could handle on the feet before eventually taking him down and finishing him with some nasty ground and pound.

Koreshkov also got the chance to explain who he’d like to fight next, should he not get a title shot. “I don’t have any favorites, I know that there are a lot of tough fights at my weight class, but if I had to choose, I would say Rory MacDonald.” Unfortunately for Koreshkov, MacDonald is booked against his former opponent Douglas Lima, as the two are set to fight for the Bellator welterweight title in January.

A fight against MacDonald would promise fireworks as the two are known for their ruthless style. There’s a strong chance Koreshkov may get his chance against MacDonald next, as the former champion is certainly either next in line for the shot, or set to fight the loser.

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