ULTIMATE Fighting Championship superstar Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson will be among the headliners to appear at Ireland’s biggest ever mixed-martial arts expo and conference Fight-Con, next year.
Fresh off his Fight of the Night victory over Vicente Luque at UFC 244 last month, Wonderboy will appear at Fight-Con in SilverSprings in Cork on February 29, along with some of the most recognisable names in mixed martial arts and professional boxing.
Fight-Con is also the biggest expo event of its kind ever to occur in Europe, where the burgeoning combat sport scene is now rivalling its US fanbase in popularity.
Fellow UFC fighter Ben Askren; Bellator’s Paul Daley and Will Fleury; and Fight Connect TV creator Lydia Des Dolles are among MMA figures who will participate in panel discussions spotlighting different areas of the sport, as well as a question and answer sessions and meet and greets for fans.
Cork’s own professional boxing star Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan will be on hand to discuss his career, just weeks after he faces unbeaten Mexican superstar Jaime Munguia in San Antonio, Texas in January.
A Spike victory over the Tijuana puncher would see the Mahon native propelled right back into world middleweight title contention.
Fight-Con is the brainchild of combat sports enthusiasts Jason Woodard and Cian O’Leary, who said bringing an event of its magnitude to Cork was to cater for the exponential Irish interest in MMA in recent years.
Woodard said: “The interest in MMA and combat sports has exploded in Ireland and beyond over the last decade, and we thought it was about time we brought an event of this magnitude to these shores.
"MMA has received negative attention at times in recent months, and rightly so. However, strip away the outlandish stunts you sometimes see, and there is a community of fans who simply want to see combat sports played out in a safe and honourable fashion. We are of that mindset in Fight-Con, and the conference will reflect that.”
Fellow Fight-Con founder Cian O’Leary said selecting Cork for the inaugural event was deliberate, considering the appetite for MMA in the region.
"Our first and only choice for an event of this size. Fight fans would normally have to travel to Dublin or Belfast for an event like this but we wanted to bring the worlds biggest combat sports stars to Leeside."
See www.fightconireland.com for more.