Meet the Bantry MMA fighter who is gunning for the UFC

Meet the Bantry MMA fighter who is gunning for the UFC
Cork MMA fighter Dee Begley with her coach John Kavanagh. 

CORK MMA fighter Dee Begley was recently crowned the first female Reign MMA champion following her brilliant performance in Dubai.

The Bantry native produced a masterful display to overcome her opponent.

“It was a very proud moment for me,” she said. “It was a big win for me in my last amateur fight on an international stage. I was very happy with my performance. It is always a great honour to represent Ireland.”

Dee was also delighted to secure her win on International Women’s Day and loved staying in Dubai for the championship encounter.

“It was such an honour to fight on Reign MMA on International Women’s Day and get the win,” she said. “Dubai was amazing. We were looked after so well by the organisers of the show.

“I’m always nervous before my fights, but once I make the walk to the cage, all my nerves are gone. I just take in the atmosphere and enjoy the fight.

“I’m always confident going into my fights. All the hard work had been done in camp. I’m training with the best team and the best coach in John Kavanagh.”

Dee was part of an official Team Ireland versus Poland series of bouts.

She was delighted she overcame her experienced Polish opponent on a night of total Irish dominance.

“I had one fight in Dubai. I had a tough fight against an experienced Polish fighter, Barbara Grabowska, who has had 50-plus boxing fights.”

Dee Begley walking out for a fight.
Dee Begley walking out for a fight.

The Cork MMA fighter only recently converted to MMA following a very successful kickboxing career which yielded her numerous titles both on a national and international level.

Dee is delighted she has pursued her MMA dreams.

“It is the best decision I’ve ever made. It is a tough sport yes, but so rewarding,” she said.

“It has been a challenge, but I’ve enjoyed every moment. [But] I still love kickboxing and hope to compete every now and again.

“My immediate aim is to focus mostly on my wrestling and jiu jitsu. I hope in time, I become a more complete and well-rounded fighter. I will, however, always be a kickboxer at heart.”

Dee is still managing to combine competing in both kickboxing and MMA at present with great success.

“I fought the week before I travelled to Dubai in K1 at the Irish Open WAKO World Cup in Dublin,” she said. "I had two tough fights and fought the European champion in the semi-final. I won the final as well against an Irish opponent.”

Dee is fortunate to be able to call upon the services of renowned coach John Kavanagh, who famously coached Conor McGregor. She has loved working with coach Kavanagh.

“My preparations couldn’t have gone any better leading up to the fight,” she said. “I was able to train fully and wasn’t hindered too much by injuries. John is an outstanding coach and very supportive.

“His advice is second to none and he helps out any way he can leading up to fights. SBG have been so friendly and welcoming. I really am training with the best.

“The girls I train with are great. We help each other any way we can, especially coming up to fights.”

The Cork sports star is currently balancing her sporting dreams with her full-time job in Dublin.

“I train every day from Monday to Friday. I train in Straight Blast Gym. I work in Linked Finance. They are very supportive of my fighting. I can leave work and train three days a week for one hour on my break. I also train every evening for three hours depending on what sessions are on, or who I’m training with.

“I love training, so it never feels like a burden. It can be stressful balancing work and training, so I’ve to be really organised and manage my time well.

“Some days I have to change my training schedule if work gets busy, but I make it work.

“I come down to Cork every weekend to spend time with my boyfriend Colin. I also train when I’m in Cork. I do my strength and conditioning sessions in Exceed Fitness. I do my boxing sessions with my boxing coach Eamonn Scully.”

She is very grateful to her family and sponsors for all their help.

“My parents are so supportive. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” she said. “They have given me every opportunity to succeed and I’m trying to do the most with everything they’ve given me.

“My sponsors are also amazing, I would not have made it to the World Championships in Bahrain last year without help from the guys at Gym Plus Coffee and Exceed Fitness.”

She has very specific targets around what she hopes to achieve.

“In the short-term, I want to have two or three professional fights in 2019 and win all of them,” she said.

“Looking further ahead, I want to be the best fighter I can possibly be. I want to fight on the biggest stage in MMA. My goal is to fight in the UFC.”

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