In light of KSW making their debut appearance in Dublin on the 22nd of October in the 3 Arena, I thought it might be a good idea to give a brief history of MMA’s popularity and rise in Ireland over the last few years.
Growing up in Ireland, I remember Boxing was always popular, especially with the addition of Sky Sports coming being made available. It gave us access to big Boxing bouts like Tyson v Holyfield or Eubank v Collins. It also exposed us more to wrestling, which became insanely popular particularly in the mid to late 90’s. Needless to say, Ireland has always been a country that appreciates combat in some form or another.
In May 2004, Poland and 9 other countries joined the European Union which meant a lot of open borders came to be and Ireland got an influx of population from western European With it, they brought a lot of culture, around this time KSW was formed and when it started it was tournament formatted for the first couple of years, with a few non tournament fights here and there, the Polish really got behind KSW, aswell as been big fans of Pride and UFC. In 2009, UFC put on a show in the same building that KSW will host. The event was a huge success.
From there MMA starting really gaining speed, because of people like Mariusz Pudzianowski being the World’s Strongest man, bodybuilding was popular among the Polish. Gyms that could facilitate bodybuilding, MMA and boxing started popping up. For most fighters who wanted to turn pro, Cage Warriors and BAMMA was the best option across the pond.
Today, MMA in Ireland is more popular, probably surpassing boxing, even though that’s where we excel whenever the Olympic Games come up. We have stars like Cathal Pendred, Joseph Duffy, Patrick Hoolihan, Norman Parke and the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor who is by far the biggest star in MMA and currently one of the biggest stars in boxing. A big part of his push at the beginning was that homegrown support.
Aswell as this; Cage Warriors, BAMMA, Bellator, UFC and now KSW have done shows to big crowds. No doubt KSW will get a big crowd. It’s been a long time coming and it should be a successful event.
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