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The rise of Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland

Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blank-Fernández on Unsplash

A few years ago, Mixed Martial Arts was an unknown sport in Ireland, but the last twenty years have been decisive in the development of this combat sport, making it one of the most practised sports in the country. The emergence of superstar Conor McGregor from Crumlin, Dublin has also allowed Irish MMA fighters to shine on the international stage and make history.

Although Mixed Martial Arts have become one of the most popular sports in Ireland, MMA is still not recognised as an official sport to this day but is self-regulated. According to a poll, half of Irish people think that MMA should be recognised as a legitimate sport. However, violence involved in MMA fights have slowed down the Ministry of sports willingness to regularise the sport.

In 2016, the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho after Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin shocked the audience questioning security in combat. After receiving 41 shots in the head by the Irish fighter Charlie Ward, Joao Carvalho passed away two days after the fight at the hospital.

However, MMA never gave up gaining popularity in Ireland and this through a fighter from Crumlin with an atypical personality. Since his first amateur fight in 2007, Conor McGregor has become an icon of MMA in Ireland while gathering fans around the world. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters use the Best Grappling Dummy to practice everyday.

Being the first fighter in the history of MMA to become world champion in two weight categories, the Dublin native became the 2021 highest paid athlete of the world after collecting a total of $180m in 12 months. After only two fights and 12 minutes spent in the octogon in 2021, Conor McGregor earned a total of $8,695,652 per minute in the UFC cage.

This podcast traces the history and development of MMA in Ireland from its inception to its rise to the top, before Ireland became one of the most influential countries in the sport internationally.

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