The Irish invasion has completely swarmed MMA in recent years and whilst these guys have been fighting on regional scenes for years, their talents and abilities have really been highlighted in recent times with the likes of the UFC cashing in on the talent available. But with all the good that being an Irish mixed martial artist brings, it also brings a huge amount of pressure to these guys and girls to perform at the very best of their abilities at all times.
So with this thought in mind we look across both the International and European scene at five Irish fighters who are in need of a win in their next bout;
Paul Redmond (10-6 MMA 0-2 UFC)
Redmond stepped in on ridiculous late notice in his UFC debut and the weight cut really hurt him in his bout against Mirsad Bektic. It was also his Featherweight debut (although he actually weighed in at 149lbs) which I think a lot of people overlook so it was perhaps unsurprising how this would affect his performance. His second UFC fight came against a fiery Robert Whiteford who was fighting on his home soil and was always going to be a handful for any opponent. I for one didn’t expect Whiteford to storm through Redmond in as devastating fashion as he did. Redmond received a 30 day no fight suspension following the bout and has not yet been given another bout, however, with UFC London coming round early 2016 I would not be surprised to see “Redser” compete on the European stage. Regardless of outcome in his next fight you can bet your bottom dollar that Redmond will be looking to at least be able to prove his skills and ability on the biggest stage of them all, something which so far in his short tenure he has not been able to achieve.
Catherine Costigan (5-2 MMA)
Well in my eyes the biggest upset at BAMMA 22 was Celine Haga defeating Catherine Costigan and clearly the late change in opponent completely threw Costigan on fight night. The result left Costigan with back to back losses on her record for the first time in her career and has made a win in her next bout vital for her. The move from Invicta to allow Costigan to fight at BAMMA was a big risk and given the result it clearly didn’t pay off for any of the parties involved. Given the lack of depth in the Atomweight division in Europe its perhaps unsurprising that all of Costigan’s five wins came against lesser experienced fighters and the step up in talent levels in Invicta clearly showed in her first professional defeat to Amber Brown. Costigan will be eager to get back into the cage and with the opportunity to fight with Invicta and perhaps BAMMA who are returning to Ireland early in 2016, I suspect it won’t be long until she gets the chance to redeem her last two performances.
Chris Fields (10-7 MMA)
Fields is another name in desperate need of a win after going 0-3-1 in his last four bouts. Many were shocked when Cheick Kone knocked him out in 23 seconds at BAMMA 18 but the Frenchman was anything but the underdog going into that bout and has since gone on to pick up the BAMMA Middleweight Title, stopping Andy DeVent inside the first round. It was perhaps though a surprise that Fields lost to Christopher Jacquelin at BAMMA 22 and amidst the controversy (claims that Jacquelin tapped during the first round) the record will show that Chris Fields lost that fight. So without a win since September 2012, Fields really does need to get back into winning ways if he is hoping to make a run at Middleweight in any promotion. Confidence will obviously play a huge part of his next performance and so putting him in a main event in Ireland may not be the best thing for him right now. I understand that he is looking to open up a gym in Dublin and although succession planning is a must for all fighters I hope that this isn’t a sign that Fields is looking to hang them up as I definitely believe he would be disappointed going out on a loss.
Conor Cooke (6-7 MMA)
Middleweight Conor “Da Crook” Cooke is in desperate need of a win after going 0-2 in his last two bouts which took place under the BAMMA promotion, both fights ending in the first round. The Next Generation fighter has been hit and miss in his professional career with the highlight so far being a 2-0 streak featuring a head kick KO win over Ross Pointon. His height and size will make it very difficult for him to get below 185lbs which would have perhaps seemed the next logical direction for his career after his recent performances at Middleweight. He is currently 1-2 with current employers BAMMA and with Ireland Vs England coming up in early 2016 I suspect the promotion will give him one more opportunity to shine in Dublin. A bout with someone like Denniston Sutherland would be a great fight for Cooke and perhaps a final opportunity for him to prove his worth at 185lbs to BAMMA.
Norman Parke (20-4-1 MMA 4-2-1 UFC)
It pains me to add Norman to this list especially after the way in which he lost his last two fights but the Northern Irishman does really need a win in Dublin against Reza Madadi. His first UFC loss against Gleison Tibau was a surprise to me and I had backed Parke to get the win in that one, but a close split decision loss to Tibau is nothing to be upset about as he is a true veteran of the sport. The loss to Trinaldo in Brazil was disappointing and its always going to be tough to get a decision win in Brazil against a Brazilian, not something which we should accept but something which sadly happens more often than not. One thing which actually may save Parke is that he is no longer on the expensive TUF contract and with two very close split decision losses the UFC may give him the benefit of the doubt regardless of what happens at UFC Dublin. I fully expect to see “Stormin” Norman put on the performance of his life against Reza Madadi and leave nothing in the hands of the judges which has pained him so much in his last two bouts.