Crowds in their hundreds turned up to the 3arena on Friday afternoon for the eagerly anticipated return of the UFC to Dublin, which features a predominantly Irish card.
In the week leading up to the Fight Night, UFC fans were left disappointed by the lack of quality fights after Joseph Duffy’s main event fight with Dustin Poirier was scrapped on medical grounds, after Duffy suffered a concussion in training.
This was the second main event fight to be postponed after Ben Rothwell’s heavyweight clash with Stipe Miocic was also pulled.
This resulted in SBG’s Paddy Holohan getting the nod to headline the night, in what looks to be a below par event. ‘The Hooligan’ faces one of his toughest challenges to date when he goes up against Hawaiian Louis Smolka.
Holohan said: “It’s a serious achievement and I’m very proud of myself and all the people who helped me get here. It’s a main event – there’s a lot up for grabs, so it will be tough. I’m looking forward to him getting that look of shock on his face when he experiences what I feel like.”
Elsewhere, Northern Irishman, Norman Parke will also feature on the main card against Frenchman Reza Madadi. There is no love lost between these two, who have been arguing on social media quite a lot recently.
The two fighters also almost came to blows at the weigh-in. UFC president Dana White had to separate the two after both fighters weighed in at 156lbs.
Another fight to watch out for is Cathal Pendred’s, as he looks to get back to winning ways against Tom Breese. The Dubliner is coming off the back of a tough loss in July and will be looking to put on a good performance in his hometown. These two also nearly came to blows at the weigh in, but once again Dana White played peacekeeper.
Ahead of the fight, the welterweight said: “I don’t think he’s anywhere near my level. He’s a young up and comer, he’s undefeated and he looks good on paper, so a win for me will look good on paper.”
Neil Seery also features on the card when he faces Jon Delos Reyes in the Flyweight division. Seery is coming off the back of a defeat to Louis Smolka (who faces Holohan in the main event) and will be aiming to get back to winning ways.
After a mixed run of fights, with two wins and two losses coming in his last four fights, Seery will be looking for the Irish crowd to help him secure victory.
Female fighter, Aisling Daly rounds off the night for the Irish contingent, as she faces Brazilian Ericka Almeida. The 27-year-old from Drimnagh is Ireland’s only female fighter in the UFC. However, she will find victory hard to come by here as Almeida has only been defeated once and is aiming to climb up the division rankings.
There are five other fights on the card, none of which have any meaning in terms of title challenges. UFC President Dana White has refused to respond to the criticism from fans regarding the lack of meaningful fights.
The event itself takes place tonight at the 3arena, and from an Irish perspective, it should be very interesting.
Follow Stephen Larkin on Twitter at @StephenFLarkin