In a night that proved to be a resounding success, the UFC left Dublin’s fair city on Saturday night with big plans on coming back next year.
It was a mixed night for Irish fighters overall, with three wins from five fights. However, Paddy Holohan lost his main event fight with American Louis Smolka leaving the Dublin crowd inside the 3arena shocked.
Holohan stepped up to the main event of the night after two fights were cancelled in the weeks leading up to it. Holohan – another big Irish hope from Conor McGregor’s SBG – entered the fight in confident fashion, but was beaten convincingly by the classy Hawaiian Smolka.
After the fight, Holohan addressed the Irish crowd saying: “I never said I was born gifted. But I’ll tell you one thing. When I do come out, I give you everything. My number one love has been MMA and my son, and I just kept both of them close. No matter what happened, I kept trucking forward.”
Holohan’s SBG teammate Cathal Pendred also suffered defeat via TKO on Saturday night at the hands of Englishman Tom Breese.
Breese proved to be too strong for Pendred as he landed some heavy punches to the face of the Irishman resulting in his face being covered in blood. The referee was forced to intervene late in the first round as Pendred was no longer able to defend himself.
Ireland’s sole female UFC fighter, Aisling Daly, got the Irish off the mark on Saturday after beating Brazilian Ericka Almeida by unanimous decision.
Daly was perhaps the stand-out performer on the night as she showed relentless pace throughout the entire fight. Speaking after her victory, she said: “Somebody came into my life, a girl named Lindsey Doyle. She’s had me running like a Ferrari. You saw me out there, I didn’t take a backward step. She’s going to get me on that run for the belt.”
The other two Irish fights saw Neil Seery emerge victorious in a flyweight fight against Jon Delos Reyes, and Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke claiming victory over Reza Madadi.
Despite the criticism of the card itself, the night proved to be very successful and the atmosphere in the arena was electric.
It’s almost a guarantee that the UFC will be returning to Dublin next year, and the hope is for a Croke Park sell-out with Conor McGregor leading the card.