Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Coach John Kavanagh is hoping to find an MMA star like Conor McGregor in Belfast

By Ali Gordon

World famous mixed martial arts coach John Kavanagh is on the lookout for another Conor McGregor in Belfast.

The 40-year-old, from Dublin, was at the opening of the new SBG (Straight Blast Gym) Belfast on Joy’s Entry on Saturday.

“Northern Ireland has some great fighters and I’d love to see some more,” the SBG Ireland head coach told Sunday Life.

“There’s a rich history of sporting contests here and I’ve no doubt there will be more. There are some great gyms and a lot of talented Nordies, so it would be great to see some more coming through and making it on the international stage.”

John says that it has taken a lot of hard work to get to the top, but he is delighted with the rising number of MMA fighters and good gyms emerging in Ireland.

 “When we were starting this 10 years or so ago, there was only a handful of gyms, now there’s around 100 active clubs in Ireland,” said John, who is based in Dublin with his Belfast fiancee, Orlagh Hunter.

“I think sometimes people forget the hard work that goes into running a club, but Conor was an overnight success that was 10 years in the making.

“There have been some big moments in Vegas, but I think the highlight for me was the UFC in Dublin, when Conor came back from injury and I had four guys on the card.

“Above all that, my parents were there. They were in the front row and they saw us get four wins and it was a real stamp on where we were going and where we came from.”

John is now urging people to  give MMA a go at SBG Belfast.

“Some people think that these sorts of gyms are just for the likes of Conor McGregor, but in reality it’s for guys who want to improve their technique, girls who want to work on their fitness and kids, whoever. It’s for everyone.

“Not everyone is training to compete — the majority want to be part of the sport and be fitter and healthier.”

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