Andy Ryan is arguably one of the most well respected figures within Irish MMA. The current head coach of Team Ryano, Andy Ryan has dabbled in all aspects of MMA including competing, promoting and also match making. And while he has experience the highs and lows of the sport he loves, nothing made him happier than when two of his fighters got the call to sign with the UFC.
“It was a super proud moment for me when my guys (Neil Seery & Paul Redmond) got the call (for the UFC). I was really happy for Seery as he is one of the pioneers of Irish MMA. I always knew Redser would get there eventually.”
Ryan saw himself pretty busy at UFC Stockholm in January when both Seery and Redmond made it onto the same card. A night which Ryan will never forget.
“Sweden was special having two guys on the card, Neil fighting a 10-0 guy was a big deal which I thought should have been on the main card. But what a fight and win for Neil. Redser had it all to do, he cut some amount of weight in 12 days and we always knew the win was a big ask. I was just looking for him to show his fighting spirit and he did! The guys have both been thrown in the deep end and they don’t complain, they love it.”
Given Ryan’s wealth of knowledge in the sport I was keen to explore his views on who he thought are the Irish prospects we should all be keeping our eyes on in the coming years.
“From my gym we have some good guys coming through. Patrick Wixted is 0-2 but the record doesn’t show his talent. He took a professional fight when he was just 18 and lost and was very unlucky. Last week he fought in KOK in Lithuania. Also Ayo Daly has had a great amateur career (8-0-1) and just had his first professional win. We have a lot of young guys coming up through the amateur scene. James Gallagher from SBG is one to watch and Thomas Hogan from RFA is another good amateur who will be turning pro.”
The recent rise of Irish MMA across the global scene has been somewhat breathe taking to watch and it is becoming more common to see at least one Irish fighter on most of the European fight cards. But are things on the Irish scene running as smoothly as they could?
“I think Irish MMA is in a great position at the moment, but we need to focus more on the junior scene. We need to run more events, like the way you see a BJJ or Judo event which is more of a competition as then you get these people competing without the pressure of them having to keep a clean record. That way they get the experience to either win or lose. The pro scene in Ireland is starting to grow again and with a bit of luck we can get more guys signed to the big shows.”
So what shows does Ryan feel about the current promotions in Ireland?
“There are a lot of good shows in Ireland pushing and supporting the fighters here. Local shows like Rumble in Rush is a great stepping stone for the guys. There is a lot more shows up North like Akuma, UXC and Clan Wars that are all doing a great job.
“We run our own show, Battlezone FC, and we are on our 13th show now. Our next show is in June and features five professional fights and a great amateur undercard.”
With his experience in the sport and his promotional attributes it was no surprise that when fellow Irishman Graham Boylan announced his departure from Cage Warriors earlier in the year, Ryan’s name was thrown around as a potential replacement. But it seems that he is far too busy with his own business to even contemplate that thought.
“Graham (Boylan) leaving Cage Warriors was a big loss for Irish and UK fighters. He gave them the exposure and a chance to fight around the world and show what they had to offer. I have heard my name mentioned (in terms of replacing Graham) but there is nothing to it. I am too busy with my gym, promotion and my fighters to even think of it. To be honest I don’t think I would be able to do that job, I’m no business man.”