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Exclusive interview with Catherine “The Alpha Female” Costigan

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Catherine “The Alpha Female” Costigan is one of Ireland’s most well-known representatives in the world of women’s MMA. She has experienced what it is like to fight in Ireland’s largest indoor arena as well as the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas. Although 2015 did not go exactly how she had wanted it to, she is not letting that deter her.

The Limerick native is currently sidelined through injury which has kept her out of action since late last year. “There is always general wear and tear and you pick it up as the years go on,” she began. “This year it just started to niggle. My lower back disks were a bit damaged before and the surgeon said ‘we can see some damage but it’s nothing to worry about unless it gets worse but always be aware of it.’ Something happened in the wrestling training before my camp in America. I knew it wasn’t right so I got another MRI. When I came back after Vegas, about two weeks before the BAMMA fight, I got the MRI results back and he said your disk is herniated on the right side and you’ve also got a trapped nerve on your spine.

Back injuries are a tricky thing and the timescale for recovery can vary quite a lot from person to person, but Costigan has a target in mind for her return to action. “I’m hopefully aiming for the summer time for definite,” she revealed. “This is the second week in the last month of recovery, which is a total of 12 weeks, and I’m doing everything at 100%: my physio, I’m eating right, making sure I’m doing as much as I can do to fix myself and recover, which is the most important thing.”

Costigan went on to talk about the next step in her recovery, which involves building her body up. “I’m then going on a strength and conditioning regime,” she said. “I noticed in America that the girls are very good at rehydrating up and getting their weight up. I’ve always known atomweight is small enough, but in Europe I was always a little bit bigger depending on which girls I fought. I just noticed that there’s a whole science behind it now and I really need to get onto that and build muscle. Maybe the weight cut will be a little bit tougher. but it has to be done.

In her last three fights, Costigan has fought for three separate promotions – Cage Warriors, Invicta FC and BAMMA, so she will not be short on options when she does make her return. “The great thing about any promotion I work with there’s always a fantastic relationship with them,” she stated. “I was a business manager for 10 years so I was always called up the office to give answers. That’s the attitude I have when I’m taking a fight or signing a contract. I’m signed to a multi-fight deal with Invicta, so I go to Shannon (Knapp) first and ask her permission. During the time I spent with her, it showed me a lot about how she runs her business and that she really cares about her fighters and giving an honest paycheque. She knows I need to work, so that’s why she let me go to BAMMA and I think BAMMA are coming back to Ireland this summer. With Shannon’s permission I would love to fight on that card.

That fight for Invicta came in Las Vegas during International Fight Week and just 2 months later, she walked out at the 3 Arena in Dublin. These were two big, but quite different experiences. “The first time I went out in the Helix, it was amazing,” Costigan said, before moving on to her experience in Dublin. “To go out in front of the 3 arena was another jump. It was slightly different to Invicta because not every Irish supporter was there. A good crowd from Limerick that followed me up to BAMMA, but everywhere I seemed to go I had a good following. Although, at BAMMA. it was shame Celine (Haga) didn’t make weight and I have no issue with Celine beating me. My issue is, I keep myself at that 51 kilos then she turns up she turns up with no intention of making weight. It’s frustrating.

She then went on to elaborate on the weight issue in the fight with Haga. “The armbar was sweet. I still can’t tell where it exactly came from cause she’s got a fantastic guard. But it’s tough when someone is so physically strong they can just hang on to you. I do think I gave her a fair fight, but I’d love to love a rematch, more than one with Amber (Brown).

Her Invicta opponent, Brown, will next fight for the Invicta atomweight title – something the Irish woman has her eyes on. “I’m certainly looking for that title. It doesn’t matter who holds it or if I fight Amber again. That loss just had to be dealt with. Conor (McGregor) may not fight Duffy again, but that doesn’t affect his record in a major way. It still sucks to lose, I won’t deny that. I saw Ronda (Rousey)’s issue with losing and I don’t want to commit suicide or anything, but you feel you locking yourself away and gaining back belief.

There were some who claimed Rousey’s reaction was over the top, but Costigan is not one of them. “If you read her book or listen to her mother, she is very tender and can get quite emotional quickly when she’s upset. I wasn’t a world champion when I lost and it was devastating, so imagine the hype the pressure behind her, then to lose.

Back to herself now, and with two loses in 2015, it clearly was not the best year for Costigan, but she would never put that down to misfortune. She looks at 2015 as a learning experience. “It was nothing to do with luck I made a bad decision,” she said, honestly. “I should have pulled out the fight. I discussed it with Shannon afterwards and she said ‘always take care of number one’. Then with Celine, never take someone who doesn’t make weight. I don’t believe in luck in fighting, I believe in working your ass off. I didn’t work my ass off last year because of my injury so this year, get rid of it and move on.

I learned a lot about what’s required at this level and to try train with as many experienced girls as possible. When I was in Vegas, there were around 10 pro girls in a class. In Ireland I’m lucky to have one and she won’t be at the level they are. They’re going 3 or 4 times a week training with each other so it’s a thing for me in the future to raise as much money as I can to go train in Tristar or to train with Mighty Mouse – I think he and his coach Matt Hume are amazing.

Away from fighting, Costigan is involved with selling tickets to BAMMA shows in Ireland, but not for her own benefit. Some commission earned from that goes to the Cork City Kids Club charity, which she explained a bit about. “It’s an amazing charity that brings to Disneyland once a year. The kids are very sick and for some of them this will be the only time they’ll see Disneyland. I think as a fighter, I have a role as an ambassador. BAMMA have helped, letting me give the commission. That money could easily be put towards my training camp, but I look at these kids in wheelchairs, kids that can barely breathe or something else and I think ‘every day I can get up, get out of bed and I can do what I love and these kids aren’t given the same thing’. So as a fighter, I believe we’re not just put here to be in the cage, we’re here to help others.” This incredible act of kindness is not seen every day and it is truly amazing what she is doing for these kids. Be sure to keep an eye on her journey as she aims to come back better than ever later this year.

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ACB

Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday

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The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.

He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.

“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”

Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.

“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”

The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.

“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”

Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.

“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”

It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.

“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”

Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.

“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”

When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.

In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.

“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”

Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.

“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”

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BAMMA

Today’s MMA news round-up

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Today has been a pretty busy day when it comes to MMA news. We’ve had it all today from new champions to commissioners being slapped to fighters being flagged by USADA. It’s been hectic to say the least so here are the highlights of today’s news.

1. Conor McGregor causes havoc at Bellator 187

Yes, that’s correct, Conor McGregor at Bellator. Following the win of his teammate and friend Charlie Ward at Bellator 187 the UFC Lightweight Champion entered the cage to celebrate with Ward, however, their celebrations did not go to plan. Referee Marc Goddard wasn’t pleased with this in the slightest and tried get McGregor out. This didn’t go down too well as McGregor confronted the referee who initially pushed him. See the video here:

This unfortunately was not the only incident as Conor appeared to slap an official who tried to get him off the top of the cage.
Credit to @BryanLaceyMMA for this one

2. Bellator to hold 8 Man Grand Prix for Vacant Heavyweight Championship

Earlier today it was confirmed by MMA Fighting that Bellator would crown a new Heavyweight champions following a report from MMA Junkie. There is no official dates yet, however, they do hope to start on January 20th and crown a new champion by the end of the year. There are some big names bidding to become the new champion, they are:

Fedor Emleianenko
Frank Mir
Matt Mitrione
Roy Nelson
Ryan Bader
Rampage Jackson
King Mo Lawal
Chael Sonnen

3. Anderson Silva flagged by USADA for potential doping violation, out of UFC Shanghai Main Event

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva failed a USADA doping test and was pulled from the UFC Shanghai Main Event. The sample was collected from an out of competition test on October 26th. This is now his second time failing a doping test. Last time he was hit with a one year suspension and a heavy fine. No more information on the matter has been made available yet in relation to suspension.

4. UFC newcomer Grant Dawson also flagged by USADA for potential doping violation

USADA had a field day today in terms of fighters testing positive for doping. Grant Dawson, who has yet to even get a date for his debut was flagged for a sample collected on October 18th. The 23 year old was signed after impressing on Dana White’s contender series where he scored a second round submission on Adrian Diaz.

5. Martin Nguyen becomes ONE Championship’s first ever two division champion

Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen stepped up to Lightweight to clash with title holder Eduard Folayang in effort of making history. Many ruled Nguyen out but he silenced all critics when viciously knocked out Folayang to take home another title. See the knockout here:
Credit to @Jolassanda for the video.

 6. All but one fighter make-weight for UFC Norfolk

Things were running smoothly today at the UFC Norfolk weigh ins until Matthew Lopez stepped up to the scales for his bout with Rafael Assuncao. He weighed in 2.5lbs over for his bout. The fight will go ahead, however, Lopez will lose 20% of his purse. Both Pettis and Poirier successfully made weight for their Main Event fight tomorrow night.

7. One new BAMMA champion while Lahore defends his belt in style

Despite some streaming troubles for the first two fights, BAMMA finally got one up in time for fans to see the final 3 fights. In the World Flyweight Title fight, Andy “Taz” Young fell lost his belt to Spaniard Daniel Barez via Majority Decision, After being docked a point in the opening round Barez came back strong to take home the World Title.

In the Main Event of the evening then, the anticipated match up between Alex Lahore and Richard Kiely went down. There was a lot of hype surrounding this one in the build up to the fight but it went as planned for Lahore. The champion pressured for a takedown in the first until finally succeeding, following some work on the mat it looked as if Kiely was about to gain some advantage on top. Only for Lahore to lock in a Kneebar and finish off the fight retaining his belt.

8. Cage Warriors 89 gets a shake up

The Cage Warriors Belgium card had an incredible addition today as they announced via newsletter that Karl Amoussou will defend his belt against Dominique Steele in the Main Event. The fight for the Vacant Heavyweight Championship was then demoted to co-main with a change in opponents for Mauro Cerilli. Dutchman Nills van Noord stepped up to face the Italian after Light Heavyweight Champion Karl Moore was forced off the card due to injury. This dampened his hopes of becoming the first Cage Warriors two division champion since Conor McGregor.

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BAMMA

BAMMA 32: Official Results and Live Stream

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BAMMA and Bellator returned to the Irish capital of Dublin to host BAMMA 32: Lohore vs Kiely, and Bellator 187: McKee vs Moore.

The BAMMA card will be shown live on UNILAD’s Facebook page, MMA Latest will share the live stream when the link is available. Unfortunately for UK fans, the Bellator 187 card, which takes place prior to BAMMA 32, is not being televised.

BAMMA 32 Official Results:

MAIN CARD:

  • Alex Lohore (13-1) vs. Richard Kiely (2-0) – For BAMMA Welterweight Title
    • Result: Alex Lahore def. Richard Kiely via 1st-round Submission(Kneebar)
  • Andy Young (11-8) vs. Daniel Barez (8-4) – For BAMMA Flyweight Title
    • Result: Daniel Barez def. Andy Young via Majority Decision
  • David Khalsa (2-0) vs. Dylan Tuke (3-1) –  Featherweight Bout
    • Result: Dylan Tuke def. David Khalsa via second-round TKO (1:09)  
  • Blaine O’Driscoll (5-1) vs. Dominique Wooding (3-1) – Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Dominic Wooding def. Blaine O’Driscoll via Third-round KO(1:47)
  • Ion Pascu (16-7) vs. Omar Santana (13-4) – Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Ion Pascu def. Omar Santana via Unanimous Decision

Bellator 187 Official Results:

MAIN CARD:

  • A.J. McKee (9-0) vs. Brian Moore (10-5) – Featherweight Bout
    • Result: A.J. McKee def. Brian Moore via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 – 4:14
  • Sinead Kavanagh (4-2) vs. Maria Casanova (2-4-1) – Catchweight Bout (140lbs)
    • Result: Sinead Kavanagh def. Maria Casanova via TKO (strikes) Round One
  • Kevin Ferguson Jr. (1-1) vs. Fred Freeman (1-0) – Catchweight Bout (165lbs)
    • Result: Kevin Ferguson Jr. def. Fred Freeman via SUB  (rear-naked choke) Round One – 1:57
  • Charlie Ward (3-3) vs. John Redmond (7-12) – Middleweight Bout
    • Result: Charlie Ward def. John Redmond via KO Round One – 4:59

PRELIMINARY CARD:

  • Sergio de Jesus Santos (4-6) vs. Paul Redmond (13-7) – Lightweight Bout
    • Result: Paul Redmond def. Sergio de Jesus Santos via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
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