RISING Irish MMA star Dee Begley has set her sights on reaching the pinnacle of the sport.
The Bantry fighter (26), who recently won her first bout as a professional, was a recent guest on the Star Sport Podcast.
When asked what her ambitions in the sport were, Begley replied: ‘The ultimate goal is to be champion of the UFC.’
The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the premiere MMA promotion in the world and is home to megastars like Rose Namajunas, Jon Jones and Dubliner Conor McGregor.
‘For me, the UFC is the MMA equivalent of the Olympics,’ Begley continued.
‘I want to be champion of the UFC. I want to be the best in the world. I know I am at that level.’
Begley, a graduate of Ian Kingston’s famed West Cork Kickboxing Club, made her professional MMA debut back in 2019 but like the rest of the world her progress was curtailed by the pandemic.
At a recent Clan Wars MMA event in Belfast, she got her career back up and running with a second round TKO victory over Indra Davis.
It was her first fight in over 21 months.
‘I was absolutely delighted. After such a long break it couldn’t have gone better,’ Begley told the Star Sport Podcast from her home in Dublin.
‘I kind of surprised myself with how calm I was. I want to continue with this momentum and fight again as soon as possible.’
Though a native of Bantry, Begley has based herself in Dublin for the last number of years in order to train at John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym (SBG). Kavanagh rose to prominence as the head trainer for former UFC double champion Conor McGregor and is widely regarded as one of the best MMA minds in the world.
How did Begley manage to get her foot in the SBG door?
She sent Kavanagh a simple text message.
‘I got in touch with John. I sent him a brief history of my martial arts career and I said “I’m looking to join your gym”’.
‘He couldn’t have been better. He was over for the (Floyd) Mayweather (v Conor McGregor) fight and said “Dee I’m away at the moment but call up and start training immediately’’’.
For Kavanagh to even acknowledge Begley’s message while in Las Vegas preparing his charge for one of the biggest money fights in history, says a lot about her fighting pedigree.
Begley’s ability as a martial artist is unquestionable but in order to reach the top of a sport like MMA you need a plan.
And she has one.
‘The next few years are going to tell a lot. If I get to 4-1 or 5-1, that UFC door will open.’
Begley’s professional record currently reads one win and one loss.
‘I’d love to have another two or three fights this year and two or three fights next year.’
Her choice of gym is undoubtedly the right one if she’s to realise her dreams. McGregor may be the poster boy for SBG but the talent-pool training at the gym is deep. One of Begley’s training partners is Sinead Kavanagh, a veteran of eight Bellator fights and one of the hardest-hitting fighters in the game. Bellator, like the UFC, is one of the global leaders in the sport.
Sparring with Kavanagh is as good a measuring stick as Begley’s likely to get at this early stage of her career.
‘I’m definitely at that level. Sinead is a tough cookie and she gives everyone a hard time.
‘I was so calm going into my (last) fight because I said that no one will hit me as hard as Sinead will hit me.’
With her plan in place and a world-class team around her, Begley’s lofty ambitions of bringing a UFC championship home to Bantry are not nearly as far-fetched as they may sound.