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Exclusive: Tristar coach responds to Joe Duffy criticism and says Irish fans “are best in the world”

Jim Edwards



Jim Edwards of MMA Latest, this week got the chance to speak to Eric O’Keefe (@OKeefeMMA) , the Canadian-Irish MMA coach at Tristar Gym in Montreal under head coach Firas Zahabi.

Eric was one of the several members of Tristar who made the trip to Ireland for UFC Dublin to support Joe Duffy who was supposed to be taking on Dustin Poirier in his first ever UFC main event. Of course the fight never took place, with Duffy forced to withdraw due to a concussion he picked up in the week leading up to the fight.

When the news of Duffy’s withdrawal became common knowledge, several fans, fellow fight camps and media were critical of Joe sparring so close to fight week. O’Keefe had this to say about the criticism:

I can understand the criticism from the fans, as they don’t really know better and they wanted to see Joe fight.  But when other camps make negative comments about that, it obviously irks me a bit because they know better.

99% of fighters spar the last Saturday before the fights, including the ones making those negative comments.  It’s kind of ironic that some of the people making comments come from a team that had to pull a fighter out 3 days before a fight with one of our guys not so long ago, because he had smashed his face drilling.

But that’s just the way some people are.  It’s not even mental warfare as we’re not fighting them, it’s just the way they go about things. We can only control what we do and say, it’s part of the game.

Some of the criticism even went as far saying that Joe Duffy had ‘bottled it’ and simply didn’t want to fight, something O’Keefe entirely refutes:

If Joe didn’t intend to fight, he would have stayed in Montreal and recovered.  But he felt good, wanted to fight.  The UFC decided to do their own battery of tests, and they concluded he couldn’t fight. To be honest, it shows they have fighter safety as a priority, and I must commend them on that.  Joe wanted and felt he could fight.

We didn’t want to be the ones to pull Joe from his main event in his own country, but we would have if it was obvious he was not well.  So the UFC doing it kinda took some pressure off us.  You always have the “what if” in the back of your mind. Them making that decision removes all doubt and the fight will now happen on Jan 2nd, and Joe will be more than ready. I also want to add that Dustin was a gentleman all week, and it says a lot about the kind of person he is.

Speaking on how Duffy would prepare for the rescheduled fight in January at UFC 195, O’Keefe added:

Joe will have been out of the gym 3 weeks when we get going again.  Of course, it’s not like we are starting from scratch. We’ll have to pace him so he peaks at the fight, but that’s our job, and with Firas at the helm, we have a lot of experience in every situation, and I feel we’re in a really good situation moving forward.

Firas and I are very philosophical about it, we’ll find a positive angle in every situation, and that will transfer to Joe.  We won’t dwell on the fact he didn’t fight the main event in Dublin, but focus on the fight.  It’s the same fight, probably with less distractions in Vegas.

Despite the criticism levied at Tristar during the week, O’Keefe still enjoyed the event about spoke highly about the Irish fans:

It was unfortunate that Joe’s fight didn’t happen. Joe and the team were well prepared for this fight, and it was special for Joe to main event in his own country.

I think that considering the way the card crumbled, the Irish crowd energized the place, and the fighters felt that. I’m very proud of everyone on that card, they came out and made a great show regardless of the situation. That’s what real fighters do, they step up, and every fighter on that card did just that.

The Irish fans are the stars of the night, they’re the best in the world.

You can follow Eric at @OKeefeMMA

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No More “Nice Boy” for Norman Parke Ahead of KSW 40

Harry Davies



MMA Latest spoke to ‘Stormin’ Norman Parke, as he prepares for a rematch against Mateusz Gamrot at KSW 40 on October 22nd, where the lightweight title is on the line.

Parke (23–6–1) is a 9-time UFC veteran who won The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes tournament back in 2012. He lost to Gamrot by decision in their first fight at KSW 39. It was an extremely close and highly controversial fight, due to a finger bite from Gamrot during a grappling exchange on the canvas.

Q: KSW said they were going to review the bout because of the bite, did they ever speak to you again regarding this?

No, they didn’t. Mark Goddard and Tomasz Bronder sat down after the fight and had a discussion, but it was basically my word against his. They said nothing is going to be done about it so I thought, either pay me my win bonus, or set up a rematch then.

Before facing me I don’t think Mateusz had ever lost a round, he’s always dominated in the cage. Whenever people see him come up against someone who can defend that take down like myself, they realise he’s got problems on the feet, and they now know I’m a bad matchup for him.

Q: Given you could be a champion after this fight, do you expect a contract offer from KSW that is considerably better than your current one?

After this fight, I’ve got one more on my contract for KSW. Of course, I want that money to be going up. Mateusz has been brought up by this promotion his whole career, I respect that he’s still champion, but at the end of the day I have the same goals and want that.

Because of that, I don’t want the judges having any type of favouritism, it’s happened to me before in the likes of Brazil so I’m pissed off about that. I need to get my job done before the time runs out, that way there’s nothing anybody can say because the ball is in my court.

Q: Of course there was the bite, but what else pissed you off about the way he fought in the first fight?

I always show up to fight, I want this guy just to fight me, because in the last fight he was running away the whole time. I mean he’s the champion, come on! Show me something, stand in the middle and fight, don’t be on the back foot running away.

Q: For the first time in the history of KSW, this is a title fight that is contracted for five rounds. Does the extra 10 minutes alter your preparation in camp at all?

No not really, I mean the training I had for Francisco Trinaldo was the best, it was on point everything was perfect. But once I came to fight, after the first round I felt like someone had stuck a hot knife in my chest I couldn’t even breathe.

I think it’s more mindset to be honest I really do. Given this fight is going for or five rounds it’s no problem at all, in the last fight he was a lot more tired than me, I just kept coming forward and I could have done that for another two more rounds.

Q: Is there any animosity towards Matuesz as a person, or do you leave the tension between you two for fight purposes only?

We did speak after the fight, I spoke about the rematch and he wanted me to fight Renato Gomes Gabriel instead. I said, why’s that? So this is how it is, you just don’t want to fight me again. When we went to Poland to promote the fight some of the fans who were young kids went up to take a picture with him, and he didn’t want to take any pictures, it’s things like that I don’t like about him, like he’s upper-class and got something shoved up his arse.

 Q: I asked Norman to explain the following quote he commented on one of his most recent Facebook posts,

Can you picture how famous I would be if there was the tri-color wrapped around me, its a statement to why the guys from the north have to work harder to get the proper recognition they deserve

I’m probably going to rattle people cages, but it’s absolutely true. People in England don’t really like you because you’re “Half British half Irish’, and then people in the south say stuff like “Oh you’re building the British government.”

When I fought in the UFC they wouldn’t even let me wear my own flag. They said no every time they said no, and I was like why? If you’re an American would you come out with a Canadian flag? I found it a disgrace.

Q: Will Gamrot again be apprehensive on the feet to trade with you and look to make it a wrestling match? How will you become the new KSW lightweight champ?

He needs to knock me out or submit me, because its five rounds. I’m a better boxer than him, I can defend a takedown, I feel like I’m better than him. I think it’ll come down to who wants it more, and I want it more, I think if the going gets tough he will break and quit, I can just see it in him.

I’m not being the nice boy anymore, I’m taking this sh*t a bit more seriously and being more aggressive in there, I need to go in there and not give a f*ck, talk to him, taunt him, have no stress and no worries.

You can watch Parke in action next weekend at KSW 40 on the organisation’s official website,, you can also watch it on the Irish TV channel, eir Sport. The card will begin at 17:00 BST.

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KSW 40: Ariane Lipski Faces Mariana Morais for Flyweight Title



KSW women’s flyweight champion Ariane Lipski will defend her title against Brazilian Mariana Morais at KSW 40 in Dublin, Ireland.

Lipski (9-3) is coming into KSW 40 on a seven-fight winning streak. She last fought against Diana Belbita in May, winning by submission in the first round. “Violence Queen” was involved in KSW 33’s Knockout of The Night, when she defeated young Polish prospect Katarzyna Lubonska with a beautiful combination of strikes.


Source: KSW

After this fight “Violence Queen” had an incredible rise and ended up becoming a fan favorite in Poland. Many fans had compared her to Joanna Jedrzejczyk due to her fantastic striking skills.

Morais (12-4) makes her debut for KSW against Lipski. The former Invicta fighter is coming to KSW 40 on a two-fight winning streak. She won her last fight against Vitoria Ferreira by knockout in the second round.

Now that this title fight between Ariane Lipski and Mariana Morais is confirmed, here are all your other fights for a fantastic card as Dublin hosts KSW 40:

  • Mariusz Pudzianowski vs James McSweeney – Heavyweight bout
  • Mateusz Gamrot vs Norman Parke – Lightweight Title Fight
  • Michal Materla vs Paulo Thiago – Middleweight bout
  • Ariane Lipski vs Mariana Morais – Flyweight title bout
  • Maciej Jewtuszko vs David Zawada – Lightweight bout
  • Michal Fijalka vs Chris Fields – Light-heavyweight bout
  • Lukasz Chlewicki vs Paul Redmond – Lightweight bout
  • Konrad Iwanowski vs Paul Lawrence – Welterweight bout
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KSW 40: An In Depth Look at the Dublin Card



KSW Federation is heading to Ireland on the 22nd of October. The promotion will host KSW 40, which will take a place in Dublin’s 3Arena.

The fight card is close to being finalised, and we can expect to see yet another great show from the Polish organization.

In the main event, ex–strongman and Polish superstar Mariusz Pudzianowski (11-5) fights against a legend of both K1 and MMA, James McSweeney (15-15). Mariusz was victorious in his last fight winning by KO in the second round against another former Polish strongman, Tyberiusz Kowalczyk (3-1).

Source: KSW

McSweeney is the less active fighter of the two, as this will be his return to the cage after a one-year lay off. “The Hammer” last fought at AFC 17, where he suffered a first round TKO loss to Tai Tuvasa.

There is no bad blood between Pudzianowski and McSweeney coming into this heavyweight bout, but given the size of both men and their finishing capabilities, you can be sure this fight will not reach the judges scorecards.

The co-main event of KSW 40 features a lightweight title fight between current champion Mateusz Gamrot (13-0), and Norman Parke (23-6-1).

Gamrot is still undefeated and the undisputed KSW champion, but his first fight with Parke was extremely close, so now it’s time for the big rematch. A polar opposite to the tension in the main event, both Gamrot and Parke despise each other and this was epitomised by Parke’s most recent social media post.

Instagram: stormin_norman155

For the first time in the history of KSW, this is a title fight that is contracted for five rounds. Neither Gamrot or Parke have ever been five rounds in their MMA careers, so it will be interesting to see how their stamina holds up if this fight does reach the later rounds.

Another exciting fight at KSW 40 is Michal Materla (24-5) facing Brazilian fighter Paulo Thiago (18-9). Materla is an ex-middleweight champion of KSW, and in his last fight he won against a household name in Rousimar Palhares. Following his knockout victory over Palhares, Thiago will look to build on his three-fight winning streak in his debut for KSW.

KSW 40 will be avaliable to watch on KSW’s official website,, you can also watch it on the Irish TV channel, eir Sport. The card will begin at 17:00 BST.

Written by Przemek Kosinski

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