With Bellator’s first European card of the year taking place in Newcastle last weekend to rave reviews from fans and sports writers alike, the focus now shifts to Dublin on the 23rd February for possibly the most anticipated MMA card in Irish history to date. The card will be televised live on Sky Sports with the prelims being shown on the Bellator app.
SBG Dublin’s 6’3” middleweight titan Will Fleury (4-1) took time out ahead of his hectic pre-fight schedule to speak to WHOATV and give us some of his thoughts on the card, his fight against Scotland’s Shaun Taylor (8-1) and his plans after the card. Will embraces the ‘raw bastard’ moniker and doesn’t mince his words!
February 23rd promises to be one of the, if not the biggest nights in Irish MMA history. How does it feel to be a part of it?
It’s all incredibly exciting; I feel like this card is what this generation of Irish MMA has been waiting for the last 2/3 years. Having a platform like Sky Sports coming on board just shows the demand and the level of skill from the athletes. I’ve been around the sport for a long time but this card is the most overwhelmingly positive thing I’ve been involved in. I’ve worked incredibly hard for this opportunity but I’m still extremely grateful to finally be getting it. Yeah I’m buzzing basically.
You’ve faced a lot of challenges in your career so far, none more so than pull-outs that have stalled your rise. What kind of statement are you looking to make against Taylor to boost your already high stock?
I’ve faced some very frustrating situations, but nothing can truly keep you down besides your own lack of effort and I’ve never stalled myself on the effort front. Look, I think the fact that I’m coming off the first defeat of my career but still want to take on an 8-1 fighter tells you a lot about how much I back myself to beat high level opponents. I’m not here to beat cans I want to prove I’m the best in the world. Anyway, Shaun is basically a fat welterweight with no reach so I feel he has a lot to overcome before he can get to a position to do anything to me.
What is your pick for fight of the night outside of your own?
It’s a hard one to call, there’s genuinely a lot of fights I’m looking forward to. Obviously the build-up between Peter (Queally) and Myles Price has been pretty tasty so it should be interesting, but I’d expect Peter to dominate pretty easily. Sam Slater is very talented and the lad he’s taking on looks pretty good so that could be a great scrap. There too many to pick one in particular.
You’ve spoken about dead wood clogging up the sport in previous interviews, do you see the European fight series as a platform to get fights with veteran names and take things to the next level?
Yeah, one of the most frustrating things about the last few months has been the lack of opportunity to have a comeback fight and show my resilience. So hopefully with regular fights in Europe there’ll be plenty of opportunity to show what I can do, and I feel there’s a lot of older guys with big names who are living off past glories in the sport. I’d love to opportunity to show how the game has overtaken them. But for now I’m focused on obliterating Shaun Taylor.
How important is the mix of skills and cultures at SBG in helping you evolve as a fighter?
SBG has pretty much become the hub of European MMA, there are new guys from all over Europe and even further afield showing up every week. It makes you feel very proud to be part of it and I’m very grateful that it’s in Ireland. And yes of course it helps you to evolve you encounter so many different games and styles on a weekly basis you’re constantly forced to adapt. It’s class and it’s helping me to become world class.
Bantamweight Main Event: James Gallagher (7-1) vs. Steven Graham (6-3)
Lightweight Co-Main Event: Peter Queally (11-4-1) vs. Myles Price (10-7)
Women’s featherweight bout: Sinead Kavanagh (5-3) vs. Olga Rubin (5-0)
Welterweight bout: Kiefer Crosbie (5-0) vs. Daniel Olejniczak (3-2-1)
Middleweight bout: Will Fleury (4-1) vs. Shaun Taylor (8-1)
Light heavyweight bout: Karl Moore (8-2) vs. Yannick Bahati (8-4-1 NC)
Flyweight bout: Ryan Curtis (4-1) vs. Luis Gonzalez (8-4)
Bantamweight bout: Ian Cleary (1-1) vs. Micky Doran (pro debut)
Welterweight bout: Walter Gahadza (17-3) vs. Ruben Crawford (16-3)
Lightweight bout: Sam Slater (2-0) vs. Chris Duncan (3-0)
Lightweight bout: Paul Redmond (14-7) vs. Charlie Leary (15-9-1)
Welterweight bout: Richard Kiely (2-1) vs. Mickael Bucher (3-4)
Women’s featherweight bout: Leah McCourt (1-1) vs. Hatice Ozyurt (2-6)
Middleweight bout: John Redmond (7-13) vs. George Tokkos (4-0)
Featherweight bout: Richie Smullen (3-1-1) vs. Adam Gustab (3-3)
Featherweight bout: Dylan Logan (2-3) vs. Andrew Murphy (1-2)