It’s St. Patrick’s Day when the Irish are celebrated. For the occasion MMA Freak presents a list of the best Irish fighters in MMA. Just to be clear this list is for fighters who are of Irish descent so Irish Americans count. However, English and Scottish fighters don’t count so no Michael Bisping or Joanne Calderwood. Here they are:
10) Carla Esparza
Yes, when one thinks of Irish fighters they usually don’t think of a Latina. However, Carla Esparza does claim to be of Irish descent in a tweet on her account late last year and there’s nothing proving to the contrary. Needless to say because of her primarily Hispanic background she barely makes this list. Regardless she is an accomplished fighter just the same. Despite her loss to Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 185, Esparza was the first Invicta FC and UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion, making her a woman to recon with.
9) Paul Felder
While American, it’s not surprising that a man with the fight name “The Irish Dragon” would make this list. Undefeated prospect Paul Felder is an American of Irish descent who has made a quick name for himself in the UFC. In two fights he’s won both and earned a Performance of the Night bonus against Danny Castillo in his last outing. Before that he won eight fights which included a lightweight championship in the New England regional promotion Cage Fury Fighting Championships. He is a member of the Philadelphia Renzo Gracie affiliate.
8) Marcus Davis
It should be no surprise that the man known as the “Irish Hand Grenade” would make this list. Marcus Davis is about a generation away from Waterford, Ireland and started out his combat career in boxing. Over his time in MMA, Davis compiled a 22-11 (1) record and won five different post-fight bonuses in the UFC. He also competed in several other promotions including Bellator and Maximum Fighting Championship. Last year he called it a career and retired while still involved in the MMA community by coaching several fighters.
7) Norman Parke
While one of the stipulations for this list was that the fighters had to be either Irish descent and not English, Norman Parke blurs those lines. Parke was born in Northern Ireland which is British territory. However, because Parke was born in a place with the name “Ireland” in it, he qualifies for this list. Nevertheless, Parke is an accomplished fighter just the same having won the Cage Contenders Lightweight Championship and won The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes lightweight division. In wrestling he was an Irish Freestyle National Champion.
6) Chris Fields
Chris Fields is probably the first of the pure Irish fighters on this list. Fields is most well known for his appearance on the ill-fated season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter. Fields made it onto the show when preliminary opponent Josh Stansbury suffered a knee injury off of a take down. After being picked for Team Penn as the last light heavyweight pick, Fields last a Fight of the Season performance against Matt Van Buren. Fields recently fought in BAMMA.
5) Aisling Daly
One of only two fighters on this list, Aisling Daly can be described as a pioneer in the sport. Daly competed almost exclusively in the British Isles before signing with Bellator and competing in the Women’s Strawweight Tournament. She then won the NAAFS Women’s Flyweight Championship while delving in and out of Cage Warriors and also competing in Invicta FC. Her first mainstream appearance was in The Ultimate Fighter 20 where she defeated Angela Magana before loosing to loosing to Jessica Penne. She will next fight at UFC Fight Night 64.
4) Neil Seery
Neil Seery was one of the fighters to make it on the top four because of their participation on the historic UFC Fight Night 46 fight card. He has since defeated Chris Beal at UFC on Fox: Gustafsson vs. Johnson. Before that he competed in Rings, Cage Rage, BAMMA, and Cage Warriors. In Cage Warriors he won the promotions Flyweight Championship. The flyweight may very well make his way to the title if he can win against the right people.
3) Cathal Pendred
Another participant of UFC Fight Night 46 resulting in an Irish clean sweap, Cathal Pendred is a member of the Irish team SBG Ireland. Pendred first competed in several British promotions where he won the Cage Contenders and Cage Warriors Welterweight Championships. After compiling a 13-2-1 record, Pendred competed on The Ultimate Fighter 19 getting free pass into the house due to opponents missing weight and injuries before the preliminary round could even start. He went 1-1 in the house winning his first match against Hector Urbina and loosing to eventual winner Eddie Gordon in the second round. He’s won all three matches since then.
2) Patrick Holohan
Patrick Holohan was rather unique in that he got a chance to fight in the UFC despite loosing in The Ultimate Fighter 18‘s preliminary round. This may partially have to do with the fact that his UFC debut was on the historic UFC Fight Night 46 event in Dublin, Ireland. It was also Holohan’s flyweight debut as he had previously fought in the bantamweight division. Before this he had fought in promotions such as Pancrase and Cage Contenders. Holohan’s only loss so far has been a Fight of the Night performance against Chris Kelades.
1) Conor McGregor
No one else could be a better example of an Irishman then the Notorious Conor McGregor. Since jumping on the scene, McGregor has been able to not only talk himself into great fights but to also back up his smack talk with four out of his five UFC fights being finishes. Prior to his UFC tenure, McGregor fought in several British based promotions, namely in Cage Warriors where he won both the lightweight and than featherweight championships. He was the one responsible for headlining the historic UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Brandao where he earned yet another Performance of the Night. Due to several factors he is now set to face Jose Aldo at UFC 189 on July 11th.
MMA Freak would like to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!