BY JOHN O’SHEA
Bantry MMA professional Dee Begley is on the verge of a huge career breakthrough when she steps into the cage in Miami on May 20th.
Begley, a graduate of Ian Kingston’s famed West Cork Kickboxing Club, enters the octagon for the third time as a paid prizefighter when she makes her debut for promotion Combate Global.
Combate Global is a major US-based MMA franchise which focuses much of its promotion on the Hispanic market.
‘It is all systems go,’ Begley told The Southern Star ahead of what will be her US debut.
‘I am literally packing my bag today (Monday). I am flying out on Saturday. So we will have a few days over there to acclimatise. I am really, really excited. It is going to be streamed on Paramount Plus. So I will be sharing the link across my social media for anyone that will want to watch it.
‘I am really excited because I think my striking for this fight has come to another level. I want to put on an exciting performance. I also want to put on my best performance and I can’t wait.
‘It is my first fight with the promotion. I signed a multi-fight deal with them. I am fighting a Mexican girl called Yazmin Najera.’
Begley’s last fight finished with an impressive second round TKO against fellow Irish fighter Indra Davis in June of last year and she’ll be hoping to follow that up with another eye-catching performance in Miami.
‘I have been in camp now for the last seven weeks. Training has gone really well. It is a really good matchup. She has a similar style to me. So I should be able to deal with what she throws at me. I am really excited for this fight and preparations have all gone great.’
In her coaching corner Begley has one of the most respected MMA coaches around in John Kavanagh of SBG Ireland, while she also has been able to train and get advice off some of the high quality fighters working in the SBG gym.
Kavanagh rose to prominence as the head trainer for former UFC double champion Conor McGregor.
‘John has been amazing. He is such a good coach. He very much stays up to date because in MMA, so much goes on week to week. You see people coming out with new techniques or adjustments. It is something John really keeps on top of.’
The life of any professional athlete can be tough and the unforgiving world of MMA is no different.
Sacrifices have to be made, and Begley is no stranger to sacrifice having left Bantry behind to commit fully to her training.
‘I think by moving to Dublin, it really helped me to develop all aspects of my MMA. It has just been great. The atmosphere in the gym and my other training partners and the way our training is structured.
‘Just having John in the gym overlooking spars and being able to pick up on things I am doing right or wrong, it is really invaluable because he is like the godfather of Irish MMA. I am super lucky. It is definitely worth being in Dublin training with John because he is great.’
Despite having her sights firmly set on May 20th and her showdown with Najera, Begley sets the bar high when it comes to her career ambitions and she hopes to make it to the highest level possible, with the UFC on her radar.
‘I am very happy where I am at the moment. Combate is a great organisation and they really look after their fighters. For now I am still quite early in my career. I have had two pro fights.
‘My plan is to win my four (contracted) fights with Combate and see what direction I’ll head from there. The UFC is the biggest, so you are fighting the best fighters. That is what I always wanted to do.
‘When I was kickboxing I was fighting the best in the world. That is the same goal that I want in MMA. I want to be fighting at the very highest level against the very, very best. This is my career now. I have left my job. So I am training full-time and I need to be smart about my fights and I need to start thinking about the money side of things and making an income from fighting.
‘It is really exciting though because for European fighters, it is quite hard to get fights in the United States. It is great this early in my career to get the opportunity to fight over there.
‘I am fighting really good people really early in my career, which will just make me better overall. So I think the path to the UFC, I am on the right path and it is just a matter of time before I get there.’